Ideas and advice from our readers
Classroom Connection: Fun and Games
Games are often incorporated into classes for young dancers, yet just as often are eliminated as students mature in age and dance ability. However, games are a great way to refocus and reenergize even preteen and teenage students. Here are some I enjoy.
Truth or dare (focus on vocabulary and dance history): Each student takes a turn answering a question about dance terminology or history. Students who pick “dare” have to demonstrate a dance step. For “double dare”—which I use on a student’s second turn or throw out randomly to add an element of fun—dancers must demonstrate a short movement sequence.
Skipping rope (focus on proper jumping technique and timing): Students take turns jumping a rope swung by two classmates. Jumpers have to follow requirements, such as adhering to specific counts (hold 1 2; run into the jump rope 3 4; jump 5 6 7 8), turning as I call out directions (stage right), or jumping in a petite allegro combination (using sautés, changements, and so on).
Relay races (focus on teamwork and quick changes): Following a theme such as “summer,” bring in items that students can wear (swim goggles, visors, tank tops). Split the class into teams; for each team, put one of each item in a bag. Write the name of each item on a slip of paper; place the slips in a hat. The first dancer in each team’s line runs to the hat, picks a slip, locates the named item in her team’s bag, puts the item on, and runs back to her line. The next dancer in line takes the item off the first dancer and puts it on herself, then runs to the hat to repeat the process. Repeat the sequence down the line until the last dancer is wearing all the items. —Debra Danese
Reality Check: Progress Reports
Q. Do you do end-of-year progress reports for company members and/or recreational students? Do you keep copies or have the students return the originals to you?
A. For my competitive team dancers (ages 10 to 16), I do a midyear review of three areas—strengths, opportunities for improvement, and effort—and a technique evaluation in June. Younger dancers (5 to 9) get weekly feedback based on a reward system in which they collect or lose cards based on their behavior or technique in class. Older dancers (17 and up) don’t need reviews. —Shena Cameron-Prihoda
A. Teachers do in-depth reports in January on students in grades 3 and up to give them the opportunity to improve. We keep the reports in the office and use them for the following year’s placement and for future reference if there is an issue about why a student did not move up. If a parent or child wants the report, I have the office send it to them. Little ones get a report to take home. —Lisa Abbascia
A. At the end of April we do progress reports with class recommendations for the next dance year, and we keep copies. —Maureen Gelchion
A. I do progress reports for company students only—there’s no time to do one for every student. Students do receive emails with class recommendations for the next year and are told to call if they have questions. —Doreen Oros Freeman
A. One studio where I work does optional in-studio exams. The teacher runs the exam similar to a class while two or three other teachers watch and write comments. The students demonstrate technical exercises, do their recital dance, and learn a short combo. Participants get their feedback in a week, plus a certificate at the year-end banquet. —Nicole Erin Vanderwall