Dancing with D'Arts - 2. The Howdy Partner warm-up

Duration: 7:37

Transcript – Dancing with D'Arts - 2. The Howdy Partner warm-up

[upbeat music playing]

VIRGINIA FERRIS: Howdy, everyone. Building on what we've just covered, we can now explore a creative task in our space. We're going to be using very simple structure to create a dance about meeting and greeting.

This is an excellent way to meet the students in your class and for them to meet each other and also be reminded of the space that they're moving in. We're going to start with a stimulus such as 'howdy' or 'g'day', using a voice or a body part to explore the space safely. This is called the 'Howdy' dance. It could be done with music or without. You can download the 'Howdy Partner' music in the resource section.

Okay, we're going to start. We're going to travel around the space using different directions, any direction so long as you don't crash. As students travel past each other, they're using their pathways in the space.

They can use any body part to react or say 'hi' when you feel someone near. It could be your arm, your foot, your stomach, your head, your eyes. Maybe also use your voice as well.

[children chattering]

Do this again with your eyes closed and feel when others are near. If a student can't think of a 'hi' gesture, maybe they can borrow one from you or a friend in the class. This can work with students who don't want to create, but are happy just copying each other. So, building on the stimulus of a word 'hi' body gesture, now explore as many different ways to create this 'hi' reaction. For example, use different levels such as high--

[energetic music playing]

--or low levels.

[children chattering]

And freeze!

Slowing down a movement or making it quicker, changing the tempo. To create more dynamics, make the movement big or small. This can be directed from you the teacher or you could use visual cards to change the movement.

As another variation, use an Auslan sign. For example, 'How are you?' And get a reaction such as, 'I'm good.'

How are you? Good.

Or, 'I'm really good.' The students can now travel around the space, stop at a friend in the space and say, 'How are you?' The other student reacts with, 'I'm good' or maybe 'I'm bad, really bad.'

[students chattering and laughing]

Now change the word stimulus to something more abstract such as a colour. For example, when you're travelling around the space and you pass a friend, you could do a red shape or a rock shape.

Move like a rock, you show me.

Or a super model shape.

Okay, then I'm going to ask--

I often change this to just a super shape. This can trigger off a super model or a super character or just plain super. Explore as many different words or signs to create these improvised shapes, again, working with who's in the room.

One student today wanted to use the word 'fox'. So we adapted the lesson plan to use a fox movement to engage the student.

[students making fox noises]

Once we've explored this 'hi' body locomotor, which means to travel, and non-locomotor, meaning not travelling movement, we can now focus on just one or 2 friends in the room, maybe even a carer and a teacher with another student.

[energetic music and voices]

Let's now create our 'Howdy Partner' dance using some simple hand claps [clap] [clap], slaps [tap] [tap], a do-si-do, swing your partner. By using a social dance such as a barn dance, you can create some movement using very unique names, such as 'swing the gate', 'promenade', 'swing your friend'. All these can create a movement phrase.

Okay, first thing, we're going to travel to a friend taking 8 beats, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. When you get there, one friend will go, 'How are you?', 2, 3, 4. The other friend says, 'Hi, I'm great!', 2, 3, 4.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and howdy.


VIRGINIA FERRIS: Add 4 beats of a clap, 1, 2, 3, 4. Maybe you could do this like clap with your friend, clap with your friend. Then add 4 slaps, slap, 2, 3, 4, slapping any part of your body. Add then 4 dodge movements, 3, 4.

Dodge, dodge, dodge, dodge with your friends.

Eight beats to do a do-si-do around your friend, 5, 6, 7, 8. Following this, maybe a little Harbour Bridge or a Spit Bridge or the bridge at Grafton. Eight beats then to swing that gate or your friend, swing your friend around, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and then freeze using your 'hi' body shape.

Now travel to a new friend and repeat. This can be repeated as many times to meet everybody in the space.

Pick a position. Well done. And go clap, clap, 2, 3, 4, slap, 2, 3, 4. Do-si-do. Around we go. And Harbour Bridge.

Congratulations, you've just done the 'Howdy Partner' dance. Now remember, this is just a template to explore the space, time, dynamics and the room with the other people. This style can be adapted or changed to suit the students' ability and response.

It's also very friendly and fun. And students respond very quickly, particularly when you use music that's appropriate with a clear beat or fun words. This 'Howdy Partner' dance is made up of simple dance phrases like sentences which can build towards creating a dance performance. Change the style by theming the dance to something age-appropriate or the subject the student may be learning.

For example, reflect back to the old Australiana settlement days by using more bush-style music. Maybe another theme could be an insect dance so that when each student meets each other, they may do an insect shape. They may swat a fly. They may travel like a bee. This format can remain the same and the theme or the style is endless.

Being a social dance, taken from traditional barn dancing, it means that it's an accessible dance that all can feel comfortable doing. Just like many barn dances, a caller is used to direct the dance. You as the teacher can be the caller or you can sign the dance.

Using the space by travelling in any direction makes the students feel non-threatened. They can also move at their own pace. But still give them enough structure to direct their attention with cues such as 'freeze'.

Spatial awareness is being utilised. And the brain forming pathways, gaining an understanding of time and the duration in which the movement is being done, also good for memory skills for this dance. As the dance is very repetitive, the students can feel comfortable that they can pick it up each time it comes around again.

For some students, doing the same dance each week as a warm-up or an introduction can be comforting and rewarding when they remember the dance. Some additional links and support documents can be found in the resource section. In the next session, we will look at creating movement sequences by adding dance blocks.

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