Why is team-building important in dance?
One of the most incredible things about dance, in my opinion, is its capacity to bring people together in real and powerful ways. In our age of social media, Zoom meetings, and FaceTime, dance provides a unique opportunity to connect in real time and real space, face-to-face and heart-to-heart. We have an opportunity, as dance teachers, to help our students make meaningful connections that will support their overall well-being and lead to lifelong friendships. With just a little effort and creativity, we can build strong, supportive communities in our dance classes, companies, and teams. Honoring community is one of the Core Tenants of The Holistic Dance Teacher Approach, and honestly, the opportunity to help my students realize that they are an integral part of their community is one of my most cherished parts of being a dance teacher!
How do team-building dance games create community?
One of my favorite ways to foster community in my classes and rehearsals is to play team-building dance games. Team-building dance games help students develop collaboration, communication, and creative skills as they work together to meet a shared challenge. Not only are these skills important in the dance studio, but they will also serve our students well in their lives outside the studio. When students tap into these skills sets and learn to be part of a community, they grow as artists and individuals. Making time for team-building dance games is an important way that we can set our students up for success in their art and in their lives. In this blog post, you’ll find 3 of my favorite team-building dance games that will help you create a strong and supportive community in your dance classes, as well as other resources that will make your back-to-dance season a success!
A note on play as an educational tool in the dance studio
These team-building 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.
Examples of team-building dance games
Describe a Dance
The primary objective of this team-building dance game is to help students develop communication, imagination, analysis, and cooperation skills.
- Arrange the students in pairs.
- Assign each person in the pair a dance step that they would be familiar with. (For students who are brand new to dance, you can use pedestrian movements like skip, hop, or run.)
- Each dancer will have a few moments to think about how they would describe the movement to someone who is not familiar with dance at all. They cannot use any dance terms to describe the step, such as dance vocabulary, names of other steps, or codified body positions like arabesque or croise. They can only use basic movement words that the “average” person would be familiar with. You can give the dancers time to write down their description if you think it would be helpful to them.
- Have each dancer take turns describing their step to their partner, using just the basic movement description. They may not show the step or any parts of it. They may not use any dance-specific terms or vocabulary.
- After the first partner describes their assigned step, the other dancer will try their best to do it. If the “doing dancer” does not get it on the first try, they can ask their partner for further description – again, not using dance terms!
- When the “doing dancer” successfully performs their assigned step, it will be their turn to describe their assigned step to their partner.
Get in Shape
The primary objective of this team-building dance game is to encourage spatial awareness, communication, collaboration, and group creativity as students work together to solve a movement problem. This game works best with larger classes of at least 6 students. If you have less than 6 students in class, you can have the dancers hold a scarf, ribbon, or piece of string between them, with one person holding on to one end and the next dancer holding on to the other. This will make their line a little bigger and easier to manipulate.
- Direct the dancers to hold hands and make a long line in the dance space.
- Ask to work together to turn their line into a circle. They cannot talk as they do so – they must only use non-verbal communication as they work as a team to make a circle shape together.
- Once the dancers think that they have formed their line into the correct shape, take a picture. Show the picture to the dancers so they can see how close they came. If necessary, have them try it again to see if they can improve!
- Repeat using different shapes like a triangle, square, figure 8, heart, peace sign, star, or letters of the alphabet.
The only rule is that the dancers must hold hands the entire time, they cannot let go of one another’s hands to make it easier to “get into shape! The variations included in The Holistic Collection of Introduction and Team-Building Dance Games make this game more fun and challenging once students have the hang of it.
Dance as I Say Not as I Dance
The primary objective of this game is to help students develop observation and listening skills as they take turns leading a silly but fun movement exploration. This activity is based on Simon Says, with a twist! The goal of the game is for the dancers to do what the leader is saying at all times.
- Appoint one dancer to be the first leader. The leader will do a movement and say what they are doing out loud. For example, they can run in place and say, “Run in place like me!” The other dancers will follow what the leader is saying and doing.
- The leader has the option to switch things up by doing one movement, but saying another. For example, they can run in place, but say, “Jump up and down with me!” In this case, the other dancers will follow what the leader is saying (jump up and down), not what they are doing (running in place).
- A dancer will be “out” if they do the movement the leader is doing, not the one the are saying.
More team-building dance resources
For even more team-building dance games, along with activities that help you get to know your students, check out The Holistic Collection of Introduction and Team-Building Dance Games! This ready-to-use collection of 15 educational dance games is perfect for the busy dance teacher who wants to get to know their dance students, help them learn more about one another, and create a strong sense of community in their classes, companies, or teams …. without having to do a lot of extra planning. The detailed explanation of the learning objective and instructions for each activity make it easy to use these games in class, while the list of ways to change up each activity over multiple uses keeps these games fresh and interesting all year long! It’s perfect for back-to-school and on sale for just $8 through August 31, 2021!
Get all the dance teacher resources you need to get to know your dance students and create a strong class community – all at a great price – with the Back-to-Dance 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.