Harnessing Excitement of the Holiday Season in Dance

Harnessing Excitement of the Holiday Season in Dance

‘Tis the season to be jolly! This time of year is thrilling, full of wonder and anticipation. There is so much joy for a child in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Why not capture that excitement in dance class and convert it into extra focus and participation by your students?

Below are a few ideas to add some holiday cheer into your studios! I’d like to thank my fellow dance instructors and peers out there who have shared some of these ideas with me throughout my career. It takes a village, and I do not claim to have personally fashioned all of these ideas myself!

  1. Jazz up the ole Playlist

Spotify to the rescue! *This is not a sponsored post… I just really believe it’s a truly great teaching resource! Having an account for yourself and/or your studio is just as pivotal as pivotal gets, in my opinion. First of all, other folks have already done a ton of work for you. There are so many holiday music playlists already created. Whip through them for inspiration and create your own curated playlists. Shameless Plug Alert! Become one of our Concierge To Go clients at the beginning of January when our curtain is open and we’ll share our Preschool Ballet and Tap Holiday Playlist with you!

I personally have separate holiday playlists for various classes, based on genre and age. For instance, a glance at my Senior Lyrical list displays “Snow” by Sleeping at Last. My elementary aged holiday tap list boasts “Run Run Rudolph” by Kelly Clarkson. Take a swing by any of my holiday ballet playlists and you’ll see the ever-popular Christmas album by Lisa Harris. The possibilities are endless, and you should be playing at least a few (if not all) cheerful seasonal songs in your classes during December!

  1. Golden Book of “The Nutcracker”

All ballet dancers out there, let’s share in our collective sigh in 3.2.1… Sharing the story of The Nutcracker is without a doubt one of my favorite parts of being a ballet instructor. It’s a classic after-all! One great way to tell the story is through the Golden Book version of the ballet.

Every December, I pick which week will be my Nutcracker week. I tell the story to each and every one of my classes, molding and shaping the presentation to be age-appropriate. With a few YouTube clicks, I curate 5-6 (short) scenes that I want to share with my students that correlates to the Golden Book story. Those links stay open on my iPad in separate tabs. I gather the kids around, usually on a fun and festive blanket to read the book; however, since this is dance class I like to keep them moving throughout the story! I’ll read a few pages and stop to share the YouTube link when one of my pre-selected scenes arises. After pausing the story-telling to view that scene online, we’ll hop up and act out that scene ourselves around the studio room to the track. I love watching the little ones interpret snowflake-like movements vs sharp, staccato Spanish Chocolate movements. Throw in a few props like foam snowflakes shapes or an actual Nutcracker doll for the party scene and you’re golden! (See what I did there?!)

  1. Pop-Up Tinsel Christmas Tree

The classic song “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” simply begs for a collapsible, pop-up tinsel Christmas Tree! Grab one on Amazon for your studio and let all of your teachers share it. You’ll be able to use this for years to come, and the kids will love doing a silly tap dance in a circle around the Christmas Tree. I’ve seen them online for as low as $21 for a 5’0” tree! This makes for a great circle dance that you can use as a teaching tool for circle formation rules and “how to” tips.

  1. Holiday Dress-Up Day or Christmas Jammies Day

Some parents may be exhausted by all of the holiday “hoopla,” butttt we know your students would love to have a dress-code free day at dance. Why not host a Holiday Dress-Up Day or a Christmas Jammies Day? Be sure to promote it on social media and send notes home the week before as a reminder. I’ve heard of studios having an “outrageous costume winner” for the kids that really get into the activity and go all out! One tip for those tired mamas I mentioned earlier though… Be sure to have a box on hand with extra tinsel, holiday bows, reindeer antlers, Christmas socks, etc… You never want someone to feel left out, even if they show up in regular dance clothes!

  1. Live Presents Dance

If you have a few cardboard boxes hanging around from all of those costume orders that are starting to roll in (deep breaths, friends… deep deep breaths), wrap and decorate five sides of the cube, leaving one side open. Let your dancers crawl under the box for a fun entrance to a silly in-class dance that serves as a great review for the vocabulary you’ve been working on this semester. Kids will giggle like crazy while popping out of the box at the beginning of a song! Another teaching moment here is to explain what a canon is. Assign them fun holiday names like the each of the reindeer names, or ornament/lights/mistletoe. When you call their name, that’s their cue to pop out from under the box and make their way with a traveling step to their spots. Make sure you have enough for the amount of your biggest classes, or at least make sure that the boxes are big enough for more than one child to fit in.

  1. Pass the Hot Chocolate

Instead of doing a seated Hot Potato release activity this month, try a “Hot Chocolate” version. The next time you’re in Starbucks, ask for a small sized extra cup (with obviously nothing in it). The kids can use this to pass around the circle instead of a beanbag, anticipating for you to stop the music. The holiday album “Polar Express” has a really fun Hot Chocolate song that works perfectly for this activity!

  1. Jingle Bells

Your itty-bitty babies will love this ballet game. Grab a pipe-cleaner and thread 3-4 bells on it, creating a jingle bell bracelet. These are excellent for both a sweet and effective rhythm activity in ballet class to this popular Christmas song!

  1. Dance Studio’s Elf on the Shelf

Those adorable toys that have swept the nation can be very useful in your dance classes! If you have a particularly challenging group on the behavior front, utilize this trick for all it’s worth! 😉 Having a studio-wide Elf on the Shelf could help promote good choices in dance class. Follow up with a fun elf-themed treat for the end of class like an elf stamp, some light glitter powder for the back of their hand (call it “Elf Dust”), or a set of Santa’s elf stickers.

  1. Reindeer Ballet Leaps

Lastly, a stuffed reindeer would be a fabulous addition to the leaps portion of your ballet class. Go ahead and give him a name like Dasher, Dancer, or Prancer and explain that our leaps have to be super high in the sky over him, just like the reindeers that carry Santa through wintry Christmas Eves! Circling back to point #1, we all know there’s a famous song that should be used here… “Then how the students loved you, as they shouted out with glee! The very best teacher ever, you’ll go down in history!!!!”

Happy Holidays from Studio To Go!

Cheers-Lauren

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi all,

From our family to yours, happy Thanksgiving! We always have so much to be thankful for: health, families, our homes, having jobs, etc., but this year we are extra grateful. We are so happy to be sharing our lifelong love of dance with each of you.

As dance teachers it’s easy to get bogged down and tired at this time of year. However, it is important to take a step back and realize how important our jobs are. We literally shape young people. Every. Day. We get to wake up and do something that we love. Every. Day. Not everyone gets to say that, and we are so fortunate to be able to do so.  I personally had dreams of being a dancer when I “grew up”. And now that’s my reality. Well, the whole growing up part might be questionable…but I have lived out my dreams.

Thank you to each of you for being on this journey with us, and for being a part of our STG Tribe. Here’s hoping that all of you have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving!

Cheers- Lauren, Leah, + Robyn

Dance is more than just dancing

Dance is more than just dancing

Looking back at the fact that I have a 12 year old daughter, I realize that dance has had such a positive effect on both my girls and on me. When you think of the sweet little ballerina twirling around in pink this and that, you have no clue what dance will actually teach your child. Determination, perseverance, organization, team work, and time management are just a few. Who knew that dance could have such effect on character building?

Seeing how my daughter dances, plays in the school band and still manages to get fantastic grades in middle school is a testament to the lessons dance has taught her. Dance made her determined to learn something new every time she was in class, which carries over to her school work. She continues to persevere in becoming a better human and friend because of dance. She’s organized in what she needs for performances and class, as she is as organized in knowing what test is coming up. Dance is a team activity just like working on a team for a science project. Somehow she manages to make it all happen at the age of 12!

I can’t imagine if either one of my daughters did not dance because it is what I have done for several decades now and am still going strong! I know at some point that time could come and I would be heartbroken, but I would be happy knowing that having danced they became better people and learned many life lessons. Not only did they get to twirl across a stage decked out in sequins and tulle, but they learned that they are a gift. Dance is a gift. Dance is beauty. Dance is everything.

At Studio To Go we pride ourselves in developing and molding students into wonderful little people that are kind, determined, grateful and happy. Of course you can’t forget to mention that they sure can tear up a dance floor!

Cheers-Robyn

Tutorial: Turkey Tail for our Tappin’ Turkeys Dance

Tutorial: Turkey Tail for our Tappin’ Turkeys Dance

Looking for a little extra fun for November classes? Both dance teachers and students are looking forward to the upcoming Thanksgiving break with family and friends. Let’s all get in the spirit together!

To infuse our Tappin’ Turkey choreography with more festivity, we suggest creating a set of turkey tails for your studio rooms. Ask teaching staff to be gentle each time they are used, and these little props should last for a while! Since this danced is set to “Shake a Tail Feather,” why not give the kids some actual feathers to shake?!

Sidenote: this does not have to be a tap dance. An upbeat and silly creative movement dance would be just as precious with this easy, in-class costume idea!

We found all of these items at our local craft store. Here is what you need:

  • Foam sheets: Choose your favorite fall colors! We selected dark brown, light brown, red, orange and yellow.
  • Feathers: We found a pack of small feathers in a variety of colors.
  • Elastic: User a wider band to ensure that it can hold up the tail properly. Our sample picture shows dark brown elastic.
  • Hot Glue
  • Thread & Needle: We used dark brown thread to stitch the elastic in a circle before attaching it to the turkey tail.

Step 1: Cut the Foam into feather (oval) shapes.

Step 2: Glue feathers to foam shapes for added decoration and pizazz. We used one feather to each piece of foam.

Step 3: Glue the foam shapes to each other. We simply spread the pieces of foam out and arranged them to our liking, ensuring that we didn’t have the same colors next to each other. Flip them over (backside up) and glue every piece in place.

Step 4: Create the waistband. See below for sizing chart and waist circumferences based on age. Select a happy medium that you feel will best suit the ages for which you plan to use the turkey tails. (For reference, our sample turkey tail pictured is made for a size 3T.) Arrange the elastic in a circle and stitch the overlapping pieces with a needle and thread.

Step 5: Hot glue the elastic waistband onto the turkey tail, wait for it to set, and voila!

Standard Pattern Waist Sizes (inches)

2T 3T 4T

4

5 6
20 21 22 21 21.5

22

Studio To Go is so very grateful for the art of dance and for our community of fellow dance professionals out there. Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

 

Cheers-Lauren