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The 5 Key Ingredients for an Entertaining Dance Performance

Are you struggling to teach your students a dance piece for their upcoming production?

Do you want to teach dance in your school but don’t know where to start?

In our many years of choreographing and teaching dance to mostly 4 – 13 year olds (but even grandparents!), we have found that there are 5 key things required to truly make a highly engaging and entertaining dance performance.

Those five things are listed below:

1. Choose the right music!

This sounds self explanatory, however the amount of times I’ve see teachers choose songs that are ridiculously slow or don’t have a clear beat is staggering. You’re song should have a clear beat, with well structured verses and choruses. I have written a short, yet detailed article on how to choose the right piece of music, check it out!

2. Focus on Formation!

Naturally this will depend on the number of students and the size and shape of your performance space. We will always recommend holding one formation for the entire routine and focus on the dance itself. Trying to change formations, especially with younger groups can be catastrophic and it only takes one or two spaced out children to spoil the look of the performance!

We are huge fans of a grid formation, six students across the front and four deep works well on a low stage, or eight by three on a higher stage. From this formation you can do some simple changes, like two lines forming one, leaning away from a neighbouring line, turning to face eachother, or splitting the group in half for different steps etc.

TIP: Space students with fingertips on the persons shoulders in front of them and ask students to shuffle back until their arms are straight and just their fingertips can reach

3. Focus on Timing!

If you have chosen a good song with a clear and concise beat, it will be a lot easier for students to hear the beat. Having simple movements in time with one another is far better than the generic – “take turns at freestyling/cartwheels” approach we often see.

TIP: Instead of teaching them to count the music, get them to practice saying the dance moves in time with each other and the music while dancing it. For example “Right foot, together! Left foot, together!”

Simply having the students in time with each other using this simple trick will make you look like an awesome dance teacher!

4. Focus on Energy!

Work on small groups of steps at a time instead of just running the entire dance over and over again. This lets students practice putting full effort into each step and not just lazing through the routine.

Don’t be afraid to have high expectations of the children. Kids love to push themselves to learn and improve, so by being too easy on their performance quality only does yourself and them a disservice.

TIP: A good idea can be to add in the occasional sound effect to a few steps. This will encourage the students to get excited about those steps and put in that extra energy!

5. Keep It SIMPLE!

If your dance choreography is too complex, it will be next to impossible to get the formation, timing, and energy right. Keep the steps clean and simple. Some repetition is fine. Bigger, clearer movements are far better than small and inconsequential movements

TIP: Make a simple intro where students walk on to the music and into formation >> Have a simple routine (with timing and energy) that can be repeated twice to the music >> Then have a simple exit or bowing sequence at the end to get that much deserved round of applause!

Finally, I hope you got a lot out of this article, and have the confidence to try teaching your students a dance routine. It truly does wonderful things for their learning and self confidence.

Please share below how your particular performance piece is going and feel free to post any questions for us to help you out with!

Thanks for reading!

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