Why is summer the perfect time for dance class games?
I absolutely love summer dance. I love welcoming new students into the studio during summer camps, helping them to fall in love with dance forever. I love getting into the nitty gritty with experienced students during summer intensives, helping them to reach new milestones in their dance technique and artistry. I love meeting new students when I go to teach workshops and guest classes. I love that summer offers extra time to challenge students in their technique … it’s always amazing to see how much a student improves in their skills after an intense summer session. I love finding new ways to connect with students – and help them create connections with one another – as they develop social-emotional skills. And perhaps most of all, I love the opportunities for playfulness and creative expression that come with the fun vibes of the summer season. Summer is, in my opinion, the perfect time to incorporate dance class games that help students grow in technique, artistry, and social-emotional skills – and I have some great ones for you to try in this blog post!
How do dance class games help students learn?
If you follow my blog, you know I love a good seasonal dance activity at any time of the year! 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 summer 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, especially as they take in all the new experiences that can come with summer camps and intensives.
A note on play as an educational tool in the dance studio
These Summer-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.
Find detailed explanations of these games and 12 more in The Holistic Collection of Dance Games for the Summer Season to keep the fun going all season long!
My favorite summer-themed games for dance class
The primary objectives of this game are to create connections among the dancers, while also helping them develop directional clarity in their movement. It is inspired by the classic summer camp game, “1-2-3 Look!”
- Arrange the dancers in a circle.
- Direct them to close their eyes and keep them closed until you call out “1-2-3 Dance!”
- When they hear “1-2-3-Dance,” the dancers will do a movement that ends up pointing or reaching in the direction of one specific person. Be sure that they do not change who they are pointing or reaching toward after completing the movement.
- Have the dancers hold the pointing or reaching shape made at the end of the movement for a count of eight, while looking at the person to whom they are reaching.
If that same dancer is pointing or reaching back at them, both dancers are out. If that dancer is pointing or reaching toward a different person, they will close their eyes again and wait for the next call of “1-2-3 Dance!” The game ends when only two dancers remain.
The primary objective of this activity is to help dancers explore different spatial relationships as they dance independently and with a partner. The basis of this activity is the perennial dance class favorite, freeze dance.
Before you begin, explain to the dancers the concept of general space, personal space, and negative space. General space is the space we all share, outside of our individual kinespheres or “bubbles.” When you travel across the floor in class, you are using general space. Personal space is the space inside our individual kinespheres or “bubbles.” When you do barre exercises, you are using personal space. Negative space is the space immediately around an object – above, below, between, and around it. In this game, we will use all 3 kinds of space.
For this activity, pair off the dancers. One student from each pair will be Team Strawberry and the other will be Team Rocky Road (feel free to substitute your own favorite ice cream flavors!).
- All Strawberry dancers will take the floor and start moving in general space, traveling around the studio improvisationally.
- The Rocky Road dancers will wait on the side of the studio, watching their partner dance.
- When the music stops, all Strawberry dancers will freeze, making a big shape in their personal space.
When you say, “Double Dip with extra Rocky Road!”
- The dancers in the Rocky Road group will dance to their Strawberry partner.
- The Rocky Road partner will dance around the Strawberry dancer’s negative space. They can crawl between their legs, wrap their arms around their torso, jump over their feet, or do whatever kind of movements allow them to explore the negative space.
- The Strawberry partner must remain frozen the entire time!
When you say, “Add a cherry on top!,”
- The Rocky Road partner will make a shape in the negative space that complements the Strawberry dancers’ shape.
- After freezing in this shape for a moment, direct the Strawberry dancer to step away from the shape and leave the dance space.
The game will begin again with the Rocky Road dancers remaining in their shapes on the dance floor, ready to move in general space, and the Strawberry dancers on the side, prepared to join in on the “Double Dip” cue.
Beach Bag Movement Memory Quiz
The primary objective of this activity is to help students develop movement memorization skills while also encouraging them to make their own unique movement choices.
- Tell the dancers that you are going to enjoy a day “at the beach” as class and that you have to pack a bag full of all the things you’ll need for fun in the sun!
- Each dancer will take a turn adding an item to the bag, but you’ll all need to remember what’s been packed as you go.
- Assign a dancer to start the game by choosing an item to pack in the bag and creating a movement to represent it. For example, they can add sunglasses by doing a movement that connects to the idea of “sunglasses” for them, either literally or abstractly. They will do the movement and say sunglasses at the same time.
- The entire class will repeat movement and say the name of the item after the dancer.
- The next dancer will repeat the first item and movement, then add their own. The entire class will repeat that sequence after them.
- The third dancer will repeat the first and second movements, then add their own as well, with the entire class repeating the sequence.
- The pattern will continue in this way until all dancers have had their turn adding an item.
More games for dance class
Check out The Holistic Collection of Dance Games for the Summer 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.
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
Find all the dance teacher resources you need for a fabulous summer of dance – all at a great price – with the Spring into Summer Bundle!
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!