Incorporating guided explorations into our classes is a fantastic way to boost engagement, enhance creativity, and build artistry. If you’re not already including moments of improvisation into your classes or you need some fresh ideas, keep reading!
First, let’s look at the difference between guided explorations and free explorations. Both are important aspects of improvisation.
Free explorations are activities where you dance freely with no guiding directions.
Guided explorations have a problem to be solved, a motivation behind the movement, and/or a goal to reach. These explorations help dancers build their movement vocabulary.
A dancer needs their own stash of movement based on their creativity, their self-discovery, and their vocabulary in order to freely improv. Without this, your students’ free explorations will all look the same because their movement vocabulary is limited to the steps they have been taught by their teachers.
One of my favorite ways to incorporate guided explorations is with movement cards. I’ve included a set for you to download here. I recommend you laminate the cards before bringing them into your classes.
Here are five ways you can use these movement cards…
- Four Corners- Divide the room into four separate spaces using cones/domes. Each corner of the space holds a different movement card. Dancers travel freely through each corner using the movement card in each space to guide their movement choices.
- Freeze Dance- During each freeze, show dancers a new movement card. They perform that movement until the music stops again.
- Chance Dance- Choose 3-4 movement cards. Place the cards in an order and perform each movement. For dancers ages 6 and under, work together as a class. For dancers ages 7 and older, split the class into smaller groups. If you have time, allow each group to perform for one another. Be sure to take this opportunity to teach proper audience etiquette.
- Mirror Me- Choose a card to prompt movement. Facing your class, dancers focus on the teacher and follow the performed movement. Dancers ages 7 and older can perform this exploration with a partner.
- Dance Charades- Each dancer chooses a movement card and performs that movement for the class. Dancers have to guess what the performer is portraying, based on their movements.
I can already imagine the joy and creativity filling your classes… Happy Exploring!
Andrea Trench is dedicated to helping dance teachers create and deliver content that is research-based and developmentally appropriate for children under the age of 6. Her primary focus is classroom management, conceptual teaching, and foundational movement skill development in early childhood dance education. In addition, Andrea uses her 12 years of experience as a partner in a dance studio to inspire, equip, and empower educators.