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How to keep your ballet and dance class students motivated and engaged during class and rehearsal

Posted by Kim Shope on

As a dance teacher, do you ever struggle to keep your dance students engaged throughout class and rehearsals? During my 30 years of teaching Ballet, I have learned some tips and tricks that may help you and your students. Use these suggestions and create your own.

 If you incorporate a few or all of these ideas, your dancers will not only be more motivated to work hard and pay attention, they will also begin to train their “eye” for corrections. Teaching another person, is a valuable tool for learning. Dancers who can “see” correct/incorrect technique and also verbalize corrections will improve faster than dancers who simply watch without a trained eye. Help your dancers develop their technique tools in imaginative and creative ways. 

 

Beginning Dance Students- 3-7 y ears old

  • Students watch one student perform a step and ask them to share one thing the dancer did very well. I start this with my youngest students! 
  • Perform a step incorrectly and ask students to give you corrections.
  • Fix Me! Make a pose and have dancers fix any position that is not correct (sickled foot, bent knee, arched back, looking down, etc).
  • Divide class into two groups and have half the class demonstrate the movement or exercise while the other half (the audience) watches carefully. Discuss audience etiquette and make sure all audience members applaud or show their support.
  • Students not dancing should count or say the ballet vocabulary words while the other group is dancing.

Dance Students 8-12 years old

  • Choose a partner for each student and watch their partner perform a combination offering a compliment and a critique. Discuss how to critique partner without hurting their feelings! 
  • Perform a step incorrectly and ask students to give you corrections and/or do the same step without the mistakes.
  • Divide class into two groups and have half the class demonstrate the movement or exercise while the other half (the audience) watches intently. Students share compliments for proper technique and stage presence. 
  • Ask students to watch the other group looking for a specific quality like highest jump, highest extension, best smile, most fluid arms, etc. Changing the quality hopefully ensures that each student will receive a compliment.
  • Improve stage presence by asking students to execute class combinations with happy, sad, mad, excited faces.
  • One group dances while the other group says the names of the steps in sync with the music.
  • In small groups, ask students to create a very simple barre combination with one or two specific steps. Remind them to make sure the exercise equals 2, 4 or 8 eights. Have them demonstrate for the class without music, using proper ballet vocabulary and terminology then choose music and have the whole class do the exercise.

Dance Students 13  years old to adult

  • Students choose a partner and watch their partner perform a combination. Offer a compliment and/or a critique. Student in the role of the teacher can also demonstrate the correct technique.
  • Ask a dancer to perform a step incorrectly and ask for corrections from the class 
  • Ask students to watch the other group while looking for qualities like clean 5th positions, epaulement, stage presence, musicality, ballon etc. Ask the dancer to explain why they chose this dancer as the best.
  • Improve musicality and artistry by asking to students to execute class combinations with different elements of dance, changing the tempo, intensity and accents.
  • One group dances while the other group says the names of the steps and/or claps in sync with the music.
  • Ask students to create class combinations alone or in pairs. Dancers develop the combination, teach it to the students and share three important technique requirements. 

 

If you incorporate a few or all of these ideas, your dancers will not only be more motivated to work hard and pay attention, they will also begin to train their “eye” for corrections. Teaching another person, is a valuable tool for learning. Dancers who can “see” correct/incorrect technique and also verbalize corrections will improve faster than dancers who simply watch without a trained eye. Help your dancers develop their technique tools in imaginative and creative ways. 

 

What are your favorite Teacher Techniques to keep your classes engaged? 

 

 

Timeline of theorists about student motivation

By U118827 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


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