by April Mosher
Once a year my 6- to 10-year-old ballet students play a game I call “Ballet Challenge.” For a week or two before the challenge, we review proper terminology and correct execution of steps. During warm-ups we go over terms like chassé, bourrée, etc.
On game day, I come prepared with flash cards. The students take turns picking a card. I read the ballet term written on the card each dancer chooses, and she attempts to show the step. If she does it correctly, she earns a point. If she is not successful, the students lined up behind her can claim the point by doing it properly. The next dancer in line then takes a turn and can earn another point by doing her own step correctly.
Each point is worth one “dancing dollar,” play money that I decorated with a dancer motif and copied in multiple colors. At the end of the game the kids can spend their winnings in my store, which I’ve stocked with pencils, note pads, sunglasses, and other items. Prices range from $1 to $5. Each dancer receives $1 for coming to class.
Our Ballet Challenge has proved to be a fun and effective way for my students to learn and understand ballet terminology. And my student helpers get a kick out of seeing the next generation of dancers enjoy the game they played when they were younger.