by Holly Derville-Teer
One day I had 15 minutes to spare at the end of a beginner jazz class for 7- to 11-year-olds. “What am I going to do for 15 minutes?” I thought. Then I remembered my days teaching 5- to 6-year-olds and it hit me: freeze dance! I needed to create an older version of this kindergarten hit, on the spot. I recalled the improvisation class I’d taken from Derrick Yanford at the 2011 DanceLife Teacher Conference, and it came to me: improvisation freeze dance.
“OK,” I said, “I am going to play the music and you can dance any way you want to. When I turn the music off, freeze. Then I will give you a new challenge.”
With challenges inspired by Yanford, I first asked them to dance with one arm behind their back. After 20 seconds, I told them to freeze and changed the rule to only floor work. Next were all jumps, all turns, favorite animal, giraffe, anger, sadness, happiness, etc., with freezes after each. When I said, “the color blue,” the students looked at me, puzzled. I responded, “How do you think the color blue would dance?”
The kids loved it. Their natural expression and creativity flowed. The entire class danced with complete abandon. This game encouraged the kids to be expressive, confident, and creative. It was such a hit that the kids started requesting it every class. I now end all of my 7- to 11-year-old classes with five minutes of this exercise.