By Natasha Benway
- Length of Program
- Program Description
- Books to Booktalk
- Guest Speakers
- Web Sites
- Professional Resources
- Program Materials and Examples
Length of Program
90 minutes up to 4 hours
Dance is everywhere in the world around us. Dance is in every movement we make everyday, from closing the car door, to putting out the trash, to getting out of the bed in the morning. Exploring dance can help teens learn about their bodies, the larger world around them, how to express themselves, and better communicate with others. For this chapter, there are two options for exploring the world of dance with teens. The first option is to organize a dance workshop that could fill half a day. The second possibility is a movement class that can be presented in an hour or two.
Books to Booktalk
Alvin Ailey Dance Moves!: A New Way to Exercise by Lise Friedman and Chris Callis.
Belly Dancing for Fitness: The Ultimate Dance Workout That Unleashes Your Creative Spirit by Tamalyn Dallal.
Dance Teams by Doris Valliant.
Dance A While: A Handbook for Folk, Square, Contra, and Social Dance by Anne M. Pittman, Marlys S. Waller, and Cathy L. Dark.
Jennifer Kries' Pilates Plus Method: The Unique Combination of Yoga, Dance, and Pilates by Jennifer Kries.
Martha Graham: The Evolution of Her Dance Theory and Training by Marian Horosko.
Promotion is key to the success of this program. Prepare press releases and send them to local media outlets. A sample press release for the dance workshop is provided in the program.
Find an example of a Dance Press Release at the end of this program.
Prepare posters and flyers informing the community of your event. An example of a poster for the Dance Workshop and an example of a flyer advertising the dance movement class and the dance workshop has been provided in this program. Unless you have access to a large sheet printer, print out the poster in parts and piece together.
Find examples of a Dance Workshop Poster and a Movement Class Flyer at the end of this program.
Display fiction and nonfiction books about dance and surround them with dance clothing (leotards, warm up pants, etc.) and dance shoes (ballet slippers, point shoes, dance sneakers, sandal shoes, etc.). Ask a local dance store or studio to lend the library these items or see if staff and patrons have items to loan.
Refreshments served during the dance workshop depend on the time of day and length of the workshop. For an all day event, plan for lunch. Ask the teens to bring their own lunch or request that a local sandwich shop donate the items. Also plan to have a light snack, such as fruit and crackers, and juice. For the dance workshop, it is essential that water be available. A sample donation letter requesting food for the dance workshop has been included in this program. Post a sign at the workshop that acknowledges your sponsors and donors.
Find examples of a Donation Letter for Food and a Dance Sponsor Sign at the end of this program.
Provide reusable water bottles imprinted with the library’s name and a teen friendly logo. If funds don’t permit this or you can’t get a company or organization to donate the funds, ask a sporting goods store or running store to donate bottles.
Hosting a dance workshop is a big and rewarding undertaking. And if dance is not your forte, it’s a wonderful way to introduce dance to your local teens without having to dance yourself. It is important to consider several factors in planning a dance workshop, including the space, the dance teachers, publicity, donations for workshop supplies, and volunteer coordination.
Dancing involves movement. The room selected for this program must have enough space for a large group of teens to stretch and to move individually and in groups across the floor. If the library does not have a suitable room, look for another location in the community such as a local community center, gym, dance studio, or rental hall that could house a dance workshop. Ask the owners of these locations to donate the space for the program.
Another consideration is flooring. The best type of flooring is a sprung hardwood floor that is not too slick. However, the chances of finding a sprung wood floor outside of a dance studio are slim. The next best floor is one that is smooth but not too slick. This will allow for easy movement and turns without increasing the risk of slipping. Regular hardwood or linoleum floors will work fine. Carpet should be avoided since it causes too much friction and can easily lead to twisted ankles.
Once a space for the dance workshop has been selected, the next step is to decide who to invite to teach the teens dance. It is best to offer a mixture of dance techniques. For instance, consider inviting teachers who can teach ballet, jazz, modern, tap, or hip hop. It can be confusing to decide where to look for dance teachers. Some suggestions include local dance studios, large and medium city dance companies (many of which will have an outreach coordinator dedicated to such tasks), local dance college professors, and local dance college graduate students. A sample letter requesting dance teachers to volunteer their time and talent for the dance workshop has been provided in this program.
Find an example of a Donation Letter to Studios at the end of this program.
Also consider how many teachers you want to invite to teach at the dance workshop. This can be dependent on several factors, such as the duration of the dance workshop and how long the space is available. Do you have to pay the dance teachers, or are they willing to teach the teens on a volunteer basis? This will affect the program’s overall budget. How long are the teens going to be willing to participate in the dance workshop? How long a lesson is each dance teacher willing to teach? What is the overall schedule for the dance workshop? A sample schedule for a dance workshop has been provided in this program.
Find an example of a Dance Program Schedule at the end of this program.
The key to the success of teen programs is getting the word out to teens. The importance of proper publicity for a dance workshop is no different. Advertise the dance workshop by placing a free or paid advertisement in the newspaper, posting information on the library’s web site, and distributing flyers and posters through local businesses, schools, dance studios, and library systems. Speaking to local dance teachers and drill instructors who work in the public and private school systems about your dance workshop is also very helpful. A sample flyer used to advertise a dance workshop has been provided in the Promotion section of this program.
Donations can be an important factor in making a dance workshop run smoothly. Sponsors may donate many of the items needed for the workshop. These include food or refreshments, water (it’s very important to avoid dehydration), tables for the refreshments, gifts for volunteering dance teachers, and a sound system or boom box. Depending on the number of teens participating in the dance workshop it may be necessary to have a common t-shirt for all volunteers and staff so that they will be more visible. Ask a local store to donate the t-shirts and transfer paper to add a design to the t-shirt if desired. You might also request a first aid kit and instant ice packs for scrapes or bumps received during the workshop. An example of a logo design for iron-on transfers for volunteer t-shirts is provided here and a sample letter of donation for food supplies is provided in the Promotion section of this program.
Find and example of the Logo for Iron-on T-Shirt at the end of this program.
Volunteers will play a huge part in making the dance workshop possible. They can help with the set-up and clean-up, distribution of lunch, snacks, and water, signing teens in and out of the workshop, as well as running errands and general crowd control.
Look for volunteers from community service workers, members of the local National Charity League, teen members of the library’s teen advisory board (TAB), scout troops, and high school volunteer groups. Local businesses may also be willing to send employees as volunteers. A sample schedule for volunteers for a dance workshop is included in this program.
Find an example of a Schedule for Community Volunteers at the end of this program.
Exploring Dance with a Movement Class
If a dance workshop is not going to work out for your library, or if you want additional dance programs, teach a simple movement class using common motions to help teens understand what an amazing part dance plays in the everyday world. The movement class is broken down into the following sections: Basic Warm Up, Yielding and Standing, Authentic Movement, Everyday Movement as Dance.
Basic Warm Up-15 minutes
Have the teens spread out, making sure that they have enough room around them to stretch their arms and legs to their front, back, and both sides. Have the teens repeat the following movements three to five times. Feel free to have music with a good beat playing to help teens get in the mood to move during the warm up.
- First have the teens look from the right to the left.
- Then have the teens look up and down.
- Finally, have the teens rotate their head around in a full circle making sure not to throw their heads hard to the back as this can cause injury to the spine.
- First have the teens rotate both their shoulders to the front.
- Then have the teens rotate both their shoulders to the back.
- Finally, have the teens rotate the right arm forward around in a full circle and then backwards around in a full circle then repeat with the left arm.
Tendu and Ankle Rotations
The tendu is one of the basic steps in classical dance. The word literally means “to point.” Photos of the basic ballet positions are provided in this program for reference.
- Have the teens tendu in demi-pointe followed by full tendu with their knees facing front doing this to the front, side, and back.
- Then have the teens point the foot to the front in tendu, flex their foot, and rotate their foot all the way around to left and then all the way around to right to warm up their ankles.
Plié means “to bend the knees.”
- First have the teens plié in first position with knees facing front, then have the teens plié in second positions with knees facing front
- Then have the teens repeat pliés in first and second positions with knees facing side. In all positions the knees should align with the ankles, tracking nicely making a clean line and not wobbling from side to side.
- First have the teens place both feet together facing front and have them bend down in a roll with their head leading to touch their toes. Then have the teens reverse that movement and reach up to the sky.
- Next, have the teens seat themselves on the floor and spread their legs out to the sides, making as wide a V-position as possible, and point their toes. Have the teens stretch their arms over their heads bending to reach their right toes and then repeat to reach their left toes. Finally, have the teens reach out to the front, stretching down as far as they can between their legs.
Sit-ups and Push-ups
- Have the teens do a set of twenty sit-ups.
- Have the teens do a set of twenty push-ups.
This exercise will get the blood flowing. Tell the teens to take their time and do as many as they can comfortably complete.
Have the teens kick their legs out in front of them as high as they can go while keeping their balance. Some may be able to go to 45 degrees, and some may be able to go to 90 degrees or higher. They should do what is comfortable without straining themselves. Legs should be straight, not bent, with toes pointed. Repeat the kicks to the side and back. Legs should be in alignment with the hips to form a nice clean line.
Having good music to keep the beat in the combination makes it more fun. The combination of movement will make more sense if you think of it in terms of the electric slide.
- Have the teens do three turns (simple continuous rotations with their hands to the side) and clap at the end. Repeat the movements to the left side. The final combination of moves is turn, turn, turn, clap, followed immediately by the same movements to the left.
- Next, have the teens repeat the same movement, adding a small jump after the turns and before the clap. The final combination of movements would be turn, turn, turn, jump, clap, followed immediately by the same movements to the left.
- Finally, have the teens repeat the same movement again, adding a step to the side after the small jump and before the clap. The final combination of movements would be turn, turn, turn, jump, step to the side, clap, followed immediately by the same movements to the left.
Jumps and Wiggles
- Ask the teens to do small jumps in place, moving in any way they feel is necessary to finish warming up and stretching their body.
With all jumps, make sure that the teens know to start a jump in plié and end a jump in plié, especially if the floor is not sprung so they don’t injury their knees, hips or back.
Yielding and Standing
(This exercise is adapted from an example found in Body and Earth: An Experiential Guide by Andrea Olsen and John Elder. Middlebury College Press, 2002. P. 75.)
This exercise will help the teens focus on the space around them. They will learn how walking, falling to the ground, and standing, all simple movements we use in daily life, can be made into dance. Divide the teens into three groups A, B, C. The teens will remain in these groups for the rest of the movement class. The teens will move as one group unless their group is specifically singled out. During this exercise the teens should always keep moving, except for the end when each group is asked to watch.
- Begin with the teens walking as one group. The teens can walk in any direction they choose: Front, side or backwards. Have them do this for about three minutes. As they walk, ask the teens to focus on how the space in the room and the other bodies around them forces them to change their walk. Also, ask them to vary their speed by walking quickly or slowly.
- Next, explain to the teens that they are to continue to walk around the room but when a cue is given they are to crumble to the ground. They can fall forward, backwards, and or to the side. Then, on the next cue, they are to stand back up and continue walking as if nothing happened. Warn the teens that they are thinking of crumbling into the ground, as if the ground were embracing them. They are not to slam into the ground because someone could get hurt that way and it would defeat the purpose of the exercise. Allow the teens to practice this for about five minutes.
- Next, ask the teens to continue to walk, but to try crumbling to the ground and standing up slowly when they are given the proper cues. Next ask them to do the same thing quickly. Do this for about three minutes.
- Next, ask group A to fall to the ground while groups B and C continue walking. Vary this sporadically between groups A, B, and C.
- Finally, ask group A to come to front of the room and watch. Have groups C and B walk and fall to the ground on cue, varying their speeds as they are cued to do so. Next, ask group C to fall to the ground while B continues. Repeat and allow groups C and then B to step out and watch. This will allow the teens to see that their movements have become a dance. It will also let them see the big picture and the whole dance, rather than just seeing the individual part they are doing while they are dancing.
(This exercise is adapted from an example found in Body and Earth: An Experiential Guide by Andrea Olsen and John Elder. Middlebury College Press, 2002. P. 75.)
This exercise will help the teens focus on how everyday movements and movement impulse can be made into a dance. For this exercise start with the teens lying on the floor with their eyes closed.
- Ask the teens to take a moment to stay completely still and listen to their breathing. As they breathe, ask them to focus on the space and individuals around them and to focus on their bodies. Ask them to focus on every tiny movement they may want to make, but cannot, because they are lying still.
- Next, ask each teen to listen to their bodies and begin to move whenever their body has an impulse or need to do something. For instance, tell them that scratching their nose or wiggling their feet, rolling over, moving their legs or arms, and stretching count as movements. If the teens seem embarrassed or reluctant, remind them that all eyes are closed so they have nothing to feel self-conscious about.
- Next, ask each teen to explore each movement as much as possible. They can do this by making the movement more slowly, faster, softer, or louder. In order to facilitate this and make sure each teen spends the proper amount of time trying each variation out, ask them to isolate one of the movements and try to make it move more slowly. Let them try this out for about one minute, and then tell the teens to try to make the movement faster, etc. This part of the exercise should take about five minutes.
- Next, tell the teens to continue doing all their movements however they wish: Slow, fast, soft, or loud. Let them try out all of their movement for about two minutes.
- Finally, announce that when they hear their group letter called they are to sit up and watch the other teens’ movements. Then have that group lie down again and continue moving. Repeat this rotation through all groups so that each teen will have a chance to see what dance movements have been created.
- At the end of the exercise, ask each teen to say what their original movement had been. In other words did they roll over, scratch their nose, etc.
Everyday Movement as Dance
This final exercise asks the teens to use everyday movements and turn them into a full dance sequence. During this exercise teens should always be kept moving except for at the end when each group is asked to watch the others.
- Ask teens to think of a mundane everyday chore, such as getting up in the morning, taking a shower, folding clothes, digging a ditch, etc. Have the teens spend three minutes mimicking the movements needed for these chores, sequencing them in one continuous loop from beginning to end.
- Next, ask the teens to alter their movements by making them bigger, smaller, faster, slower, heavy, and light. Lead them through this process so that they spend about ten minutes trying to alter their movements in each way.
- Next, ask the teens to pick the three altered movements that they like best and string them together in a continuous loop. For instance, they can get up in the morning at a normal speed, then faster, and then smaller. Let them practice this for about two minutes.
- Now call each group up to the front of the room, one at a time, to watch while the other two groups continue to move.
- After all groups have watched, begin to place the teens that have similar movement patterns or movement flows into separate groups, i.e., those that seem to make big movements, or small movements, or even opposite movements are grouped together. Have these new groups perform as the other teens watch. Try to arrange the groups so that each teen has a chance to participate at least once.
- At the end, have each teen say what their movement pattern was based on.
Have the teens begin this exercise by lying down on the floor with their eyes closed.
- Ask each teen to focus on their breathing, taking deep breaths in and out.
- Ask each teen to imagine that there is sand slowly filling their feet and moving up through their bodies. Lead the teens through this imagery by telling them that the sanding is filling their feet, and now it is continuing up to their knees, hips, etc., until the sand has filled their whole body. While they are filling up with sand, ask them to imagine that the sand is pushing them deeper into the soft floor.
- Last, reverse the imagery by telling them that the sand is slowly trickling out of their bodies, starting with their feet and lead them through their whole body. Tell them that the resulting feeling makes them feel so light that they feel like they can float up to the ceiling.
After the workshop, ask the teens to complete an evaluation form so that you will know how they liked the program and to plan changes and improvements.
Find an example of a Dance Evaluation Form at the end of this program.
Invite local dance studio teachers, dance company members, or dance college professors to speak, demonstrate, or teach at the dance workshop. The same group of people can be contacted for teaching or speaking if you choose to have a dance movement class instead of a dance workshop.
Show these videos and DVDs or segments of them if you have public performance rights. Otherwise, display them for home use.
Ballet for Beginners. (40 minutes)
Isadora Duncan Masterworks 1905-1923. (52 minutes)
New York City Ballet: Bringing Balanchine Back. (80 minutes)
Pilates for Dancers- Get the Dancer’s Body. (100 minutes)
The Spirit Moves. (120 minutes)
Tap Dancing for Beginners by Kultur. (30 minutes)
Urban Jam- Hip Hop Dance with Laya Barak. (60 minutes)
The web site for Dance Magazine is good for browsing and offers some video clips of dancers in action.
This wonderful site provides video clips of professional dance, local studios, and competitions.
International Tap Association
Learn all about tap at the International Tap Association’s web site.
101 Dance Games for Children: Fun and Creativity with Movement by Paul Rooyackers.
Bodystories: A Guide to Experiential Anatomy by Caryn McHose and Andrea Olsen.
Body and Earth: An Experiential Guide by Andrea Olsen.
Dance and Grow: Developmental Dance Activities for Three- Through Eight-Year-Olds by Betty Rowan.
Playdancing byDianne Fraser.
Perpetual Motion: Creative Movement Exercises for Dance and Dramatic Arts by Janice Pomer.
Rhythmic Activities and Dance by JohnBennet and Pamela Riemer.
Cyberdance: Ballet on the Net
This web site gathers a wealth of information on different dance topics, such as Schools, Companies, Colleges, and Summer Programs.
This is the web site for Dance Teacher magazine. It has a lot of interesting topics that would be good for browsing, as well as some nice video clips.
Sapphire Swan Dance Directory
This directory includes groups for all types of dance, including ballet, tap, hip hop, Irish, Greek, folk dance, and much more.
Program Materials and Examples
Example of Dance Press Release
Printer Friendly PDF Version (151 KB)
Example of Dance Workshop Poster
Printer Friendly PDF Version (182 KB)
Example of Movement Class Flyer
Printer Friendly PDF Version (143 KB)
Donation Letter for Food
Printer Friendly PDF Version (171 KB)
Dance Sponsor Sign
Printer Friendly PDF Version (151 KB)
Donation Letter to Studios
Printer Friendly PDF Version (198 KB)
Dance Program Schedule
Printer Friendly PDF Version (104 KB)
Logo for Iron-on T-Shirt
Printer Friendly PDF Version (94 KB)
Schedule for Community Volunteers (Page 1 of 2)
Printer Friendly PDF Version (186 KB)
Schedule for Community Volunteers (Page 2 of 2)
Printer Friendly PDF Version (172 KB)
Dance Evaluation Form
Printer Friendly PDF Version (97 KB)