Celebrate the beauty of spring with dance games
Spring is one of my favorite times of year, and I think the best way to celebrate this (or any!) season is by dancing. More sunlight, gentle breezes, and the emergence of colorful flowers and bright green grass all spark joy – especially for kids who have been feeling cooped up all winter long. Nature itself seems to dance, from budding trees blowing in the wind to worms wiggling their way down the rain-soaked sidewalk. And of course, there is nothing better than the annual dance of jumping in puddles after a good spring rain! But for all its beauty, spring can be a difficult time in the dance studio. It is an intense season, filled with rehearsals. competitions, performances, auditions, amid exams. Spring burnout can be a real thing – for students and teachers alike. Dance games can offer a respite from the stress of the season, and help shake us out of the usual routine.
How do dance class games help students learn?
If you follow my blog, you know I love a good seasonal game in my dance classes! Improvisation, games, and creative exercises all provide fun ways to help students develop greater creativity, self-expression, collaboration skills, and performance quality, while also developing a deeper understanding of their dance technique. Tying these games and activities to the season add a celebratory nature to class, and helps students connect what they are doing in dance with what they are experiencing in their lives outside the studio. These 3 Spring-themed dance games can be easily adapted for students of all ages, skills levels, and most dance genres, but are designed with dancers ages 7 and up in mind. After all, students of all ages learn through play!. Moreover, play can be a great way to improve students’ social and emotional health, not only in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also as the hectic, stressful spring season takes hold.
A note on play as an educational tool in the dance studio
These Spring-themed games for dance class are all based in the philosophy that play can be an important educational tool in the dance studio. Research indicates that students of all ages learn through play, and play can help children can develop important social, cognitive, and emotional skills. Using play as an educational tool can help students gain self-confidence, engage in new experiences, and meet new physical and mental challenges. Incorporating play in the dance studio with students of all ages can have many benefits, from helping students learn new skills and refine their technique to helping them cope with stress and anxiety. Read more about the play in the dance studio in this blog post: Your Ultimate Guide to Play in the Dance Studio.
My favorite Spring-themed games for dance class
The primary objectives of this activity are to help students learn how to apply technique in new ways, create and execute transition steps, and engage in the process of making original movements. Students will work, individually, in pairs, or in teams, or create a dance phrase that corresponds to the word RAINBOW.
To make this an individual activity using the dance vocabulary and technique you are working on in class:
- Direct the student to think of a dance step from their vocabulary that starts with each letter of the work RAINBOW. In ballet, for example, this might look like R-rond de jambe, A-arabesque, etc. In tap, R-riff, A-Alexander, etc.
- Once the student has a step for each letter of the word, they will create transition steps between each to link the steps into a cohesive dance phrase.
To make this a partner/team activity using the dance vocabulary and technique you are working on in class:
- Explain the exercise as outlined in above, but students will work as a team to create they rainbow phrase, not individually.
- Direct the students to choose their collaborative style. Will each student choose one letter and create a corresponding step? Will they work together to come up with each step as a pair or team? How will they decide on transitions? What will they do if disagreements or differences of opinion arise?
To make this a creative movement exploration:
- Follow the above directions for either individuals or partners/teams as desired.
- Instead of asking students to choose a step from their known dance technique, have them create their own dance step and give it a name that corresponds to the appropriate letter. The names could be literal, such as R-Reach with leg, A-Arm swish, or original, such as R-Regiplop, A-Apple Step. It’s always fun to allow the students to be silly and creative!
Faerie Garden – A St. Patrick’s Day Game
The primary objective of this game is to foster teamwork and connection between dancers as they engage in imaginative, playful dance together. It is a fun way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!
- Ask all but one of the dancers to imagine they are aos sí or Irish fairies, relaxing by the sea on the green cliffs of Ireland. After a long day of fairy fun, the dancer/fairies fall asleep.
- When they are asleep, the remaining dancer enters. This dancer is the Leprechaun. The silly Leprechaun doesn’t want to sleep, and dances around the fairies.
- The Leprechaun finds a fairy that they would like to dance with, and uses their magic to bring them to life. They can wake the fairy up by tapping them gently on a pre-arranged body part (head or elbow works well), using a pre-arranged signal like waving to them, or calling them to life with a magic chant, such as Bibbity Bobbity Boo, (Name) I choose you!
- The fairy wakes up, and dances with the Leprechaun. You can provide instructions for the dancing, such as that they must use a certain body part, or a certain level.
- After a time, the fairy casts a sleeping spell on the Leprechaun, who stops dancing and falls asleep.
- When they fall to the floor to sleep, the fairy becomes the next Leprechaun, and goes to find another fairie to wake up.
- Repeat this process until all fairies have been woken, danced, and had their turn as the Leprechaun. The final Leprechaun gets to wake all of the other fairies, and they all dance together!
Moves in Bloom
The primary objective of this activity is to help students develop improvisation skills and creative expression, while counting the music and following directions. This activity is inspired by flowers in bloom.
- All dancers start on the lower level in a shape that resembles a seed in some way – leave it open to the dancers’ interpretation.
- For 8 counts, the dancers will “bloom” as they move from floor to standing on the highest level.
- After pausing for 8 counts, they will then take 8 counts to “wilt” back down to the low level.
- Allow the dancers to practice this several times, then add layers of complexity such as:
- Take 8 counts to bloom, then 8 to wilt down just to mid level before being infused with sunlight and blooming to the highest level again.
- Take 8 counts to bloom just to the mid level, before drying up from lack of rain and wilting back down to the low level for 8 counts.
- Take 8 counts to bloom, but instead of pausing in stillness on the high level, the dancers are blown from side to side by a gust of wind!
- From your position on the low level, take 8 counts to root down to the earth by moving on the low level only, then bloom to the highest level for 8 counts.
- Grow and wilt just as a stem, without using your arms because your flowers did not bloom.
- Use different count structures, for example: 4 counts to bloom, 4 to pause, and 4 to wilt; 7 counts for each; or 3 to bloom, 12 to pause, 5 to wilt.
More games for dance class
Check out The Holistic Collection of Dance Games for the Spring Season, a ready-to-use collection of 15 educational dance games to keep your students engaged, learning, and having fun all season long! ach game listing includes a description of the primary learning objective, detailed instructions, ideas for adapting the game for multiple uses, Covid-19 considerations, and music recommendations. The activities can be adapted for use with students of all dance genres and skill levels, and are recommended for students age 7 and up.
Find all the dance teacher resources you need for a splendid spring dance season – all at a great price – with the Spring into Summer Bundle!
Plan ahead for future holidays by checking out my other seasonal games for dance class:
- Get-to-Know-You Dance Games
- Halloween Games for Dance Class
- Thanksgiving Dance Games
- Winter/Holiday Dance Class Games
- Valentine’s Day Games for Dance Class
- Spring-Themed Dance Games
- Summer-Themed Dance Games
- Team-Building Games for Dance Class
For dance games that help your students learn through play all year long, check out the Dance Games Bundle. This bundle includes 75 educational dance games arranged by season – Back to School, Fall, Winter/Holidays, Spring, and Summer – all for under $40!
Visit my Resources page for tools that support a holistic teaching and creative practice. Keep in touch by signing up for my quarterly newsletter, or join me on Facebook at The Holistic Dance Teacher.