Exercises for an Introduction to Dance for Students

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Dancing takes time and patience to master. Before tearing up the dance floor like a pro, beginners must learn the basics of dance, such as proper alignment and positioning. Whether you teach ballet, hip-hop, ballroom or another style of dance, help your beginning students gain confidence by building a strong foundation of basic technique and movements.

Stretching Exercises

  • Help students become aware of their bodies and natural range of motion by introducing gentle stretching exercises. Demonstrate dynamic stretches, for example, rolling the shoulders or reaching side to side above the head. Also introduce more passive stretches, for example, letting the torso hang low as you try to touch your toes. Vary your stretching routine depending on the style of dance or type of choreography students will learn. Because warm muscles are more elastic than cold ones, save your more intense stretches for the end of class.

Positions and Postures

  • Identify the key positions of the feet or body your students need to know. In an introduction to ballet class, teach the five basic positions of the feet and help novice dancers learn to focus on keeping a tall, straight back. Beginning ballroom dancers should learn how to face their partners in a closed-position dance hold. Take this opportunity to discuss posture as well. In a beginner's tap class, teach students how to remain over the balls of their feet as they dance. Focus on these basic positions until your students feel comfortable and confident.

Muscle Engagement

  • When dancing, dancers use muscle groups differently than they do during common daily activities. Many styles, including ballet and modern dance, involve keeping the abdominal muscles engaged and strong. Train dancers to understand this concept by having them tighten their abs, pulling the navel toward the spine, and releasing them. Finally, challenge dancers to hold this engaged position throughout the remainder of class.

Basic Steps

  • Get your students moving and grooving by giving instructions on a basic step. Start with a step that provides the foundation for other exercises, such as a plie in ballet and modern and jazz dancing, or a simple do-si-do for square dancing. Walk through the steps carefully and slowly, offering hands-on instruction when possible. Once students have a grasp of one step, move on to another. Introduce steps one at a time to avoid overwhelming or confusing your students.

Choreography

  • After beginning dancers have learned a few different basics, choreograph a simple routine that involves several familiar steps and positions. Choose a slow or moderately paced piece of music with a steady beat. If your introductory class meets regularly, continue adding new steps to your routine as dancers broaden their knowledge of dance steps and movements.

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