Fall is, for sure, my favorite season – and I know I’m not the only one! Even here in Southern Arizona, there is a special magic to the fall season. The air becomes crisper, the nights cooler, and an overall feeling of coziness prevails…even when the temperatures still reach the high 80s on the regular! Our dance students pick up on the fall vibes, too. You can feel their excitement grow stronger and stronger as we slip into October. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah, and winter break start looming large in their minds. Planning some special fall dance activities in your classes is a great way to tap into their excitement and focus their energy, keeping them engaged and learning through the season.
Here are some of my favorite fall dance activities to help you celebrate the season in your dance classes:
1.) Rock a festive playlist. Seasonal music can set the tone for fall fun in your dance classes. Simply swapping out your regular playlist for some festive fall tunes can breathe new life into your class routine, without having to make drastic changes to your lesson plans. Thanks to streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, it’s easier than ever to build a nice collection of seasonal songs. You can get started by following my Dance Songs for Fall playlist on Spotify here! (Bonus: The suggested music for The Holistic Collection of Dance Games for the Fall Season can be found on this playlist, making it easier than ever to use these fun fall dance games in your classes!)
2.) Watch some fall-themed choreography. Fall can be a great time to introduce your dance students to new choreographers and iconic dance works. Some of my favorite dance pieces that tie into the fall season include: Antony Tudor’s The Leaves are Fading, one of the many imaginings of Dracula in dance, the positively haunting second act of Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Creole Giselle, Roisin Murphy’s zombie-inspired Ramalama (Bang Bang) from So You Think You Can Dance, and of course, Michael Jackson’s iconic Thriller video with choreography by Michael Peters. Taking some time in class to watch excerpts and discuss would be ideal, and The Holistic Guide to Analyzing Dance Performance can help you easily facilitate discussions or written reflections about what your students watch. If time is tight, you can also share clips on your studio or program’s social media accounts. What are your favorite fall-themed dance works? Share in the comments!
3.) Make time for fun fall dance games. One of my favorite ways to celebrate fall in my dance classes is with educational dance games. Students of all ages learn through play, and dance games can be a great way to help students refine their dance technique, develop artistic skills, and build social-emotional skills. Through educational dance games, students can practice improvisation, moving with different energy and qualities, portraying a character, cooperation and teamwork, and using their dance technique in new ways. Fall is a perfect season for dance games, as there are so many ways to explore the season through play. Dance games provide a fun way to help students expend some of the extra energy they have around Halloween, and help curb the burnout that can start to emerge later in the season. A super simple way to incorporate fall dance games into your classes is to put an autumnal twist on old classics. For example, “Falling Leaves Freeze Dance” can be played by mimicking the gentle way that leaves float from the trees in your movement, and falling to the floor instead of freezing when the music stops. For 15 unique, ready-to-use, and educational dance games that are always a hit with students, check out The Holistic Collection of Dance Games for the Fall Season.
4.) Create a gratitude ritual. Anchored by the Thanksgiving holiday, fall is a great time to incorporate a gratitude ritual in your dance classes. One easy way to do this is to ask your students to share something that they are thankful for when you take attendance. Older students can also make a shape or movement that corresponds to their response. You can use their responses to create a dance phrase inspired by the words or movements, or as the basis for improvisation or creative movement explorations. Another easy gratitude ritual is to give the dancers a mantra to reflect on during your cool-down or reverence, such as, “I am grateful for the people who support me on my dance journey,” “I am thankful for my classmates and dance friends,” or “I am fortunate to express myself through movement.” For more ways to foster gratitude through dance, check out this blog post.
5.) Give back to the community. In the spirit of gratitude, fall is a perfect time to give back to the community through a service project. Working with.your students to design a service project can be a fun fall dance activity that also helps to build teamwork and friendships in your studio or program. Some simple ideas include:
- Taking a few minutes of class time to make cards for deployed service members, nursing home residents, or patients in a children’s hospital.
- Collecting food for a local pantry or food back, toiletries and socks for a homeless shelter, books and toys for a children’s hospital, or dance clothing and old costumes for a program like Traveling Tutus.
- Organizing a mini-concert for a senior center or day program for adults with disabilities.
- Hosting free classes for children in need, with your students helping to create the exercises and taking the lead in teaching or assisting.
- Volunteering as a team at a soup kitchen, animal shelter, or to clean up a local park.
- Filling shoe boxes or backpacks with toiletries and school supplies for programs that serve unhoused youth.
6.) Embrace Halloween. At times, the holidays can seem super distracting, especially Halloween! Kids may seem to loose focus or have a ton of excess energy as Halloween draws near. As someone who is not the biggest fan of Halloween or anything frightening, I used to fight against it. Over time, however, I’ve learned to embrace it – and I see the benefit in my classes! We bouree with zombie arms, practice tuck rolls like pumpkins, and leap through the air like bats flying in the night. These little twists on standard dance steps help students of all ages engage with their technique in new ways. You can bring some extra spooky fun into your classes – without sacrificing dance learning – by playing some of the Halloween dance games in this blog post!
7.) Practice Pantomime. Is there any ballet character more frightening than Carabosse, the evil witch from The Sleeping Beauty?! Fall is a great time to teach students the art of pantomime using the cursing scene from the Prologue of The Sleeping Beauty. Students of all ages will enjoy learning the meaning behind Carabosse and The Lilac Fairy’s movements. They can take turns portraying each of the characters, and even create their own dance story inspired by the pantomime that they’ve learned. For jazz, tap, or musical theatre classes, try a similar activity using story-telling movement from The Little Shop of Horrors, Wicked, Young Frankenstein, Beetlejuice, The Adams Family, Into the Woods, or Sweeney Todd (for older kids!).
Feeling a bit of a fall funk? Want to use the themes of the season to inspire and engage your students? Get The Holistic Dance Teacher Fall Fix Bundle, with 5 amazing resources to help you make the most of the season, all at a great price!
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