Dancing with D'Arts - 4. Sequences and dance blocks - green fingernails

Duration: 6:16

Transcript – Dancing with D'Arts - 4. Sequences and dance blocks - green fingernails

VIRGINIA FERRIS: A fun way to create dance movement and engage with students is through simple word association in an accessible way. This session is about engaging students and creating a 'Green Fingernail' dance. I'm using a word stimulus and a more formal direction in the space for this dance to create this 'Green Fingernail' dance.

I say, 'more formal', as in a traditional dance class, where the students mirrors the teacher and faces the front of the room. They copy the style and the steps of the movement. This method can be daunting to inexperienced teachers with little or no technical dance knowledge.

So instead, I use simple everyday movement or colourful words to create the movement. Using words such as, 'throw', 'throw the money', 'in your pocket'. A phrase such as, 'green fingernails', gives colour and is a fun way to engage the students. Using an exaggerated voice also adds to the memory of this movement.

Show me your green fingernails. Show me. Imagine.

You have to imagine really hard. [gasp] Green fingernails. Can everyone show me your green fingernails? [gasp] And conjures up visual ideas of what green fingernails could suggest. Spooky, witch-like, alien, green jelly beans, et cetera.

By using descriptive words, this can make it easier for students with low vision or vision impaired to react to a word as opposed to a step movement. Okay, let's build a sequence. Students may require a carer, or a teacher, or an interpreter to assist them. The movement can be adapted to explore more complex movement or simplified to actually suit the ability for the student.

The following dance phrase will cater for a mixed range of abilities and can suit any age or level. Building on our previous awareness of the space and direction, but this time, we are going to face the tutor and follow the moves. I'm going to use the word, 'green fingernails'. If any student can't actually make the green fingernails with their arms, then a body movement or even eye movement can suggest what it's like to do a 'green fingernails'.

This is quickly followed by what I call 'feel the fat cow' arm. Imagine you're at the cattle show. And you've got 2 beautiful cows either side. And you can really feel them. Maybe they feel warm, or spiky, or friendly.

Once the students experience this imagination, they feel associated with the words. And then the movement becomes embedded into their memory. Other words to use are, 'squish a cockroach'.

Now, you can squish the cockroach with your foot, like that, and bring it in. You can squish the cockroach with your hand. You can squish the cockroach with your head. I don't care how you want to squish the cockroach. Are we ready?

Maybe 'throw the money' using an arm gesture. Throw the money away. Who needs money? Oh, I'm going to throw to Chris. There you go, Chris.

Now, we're going to do the 'Green Fingernail' dance. Here we go. And green, 2, 3, 4.

Feel the cow, 2, 3, 4. Squish your cockroach, 2, 3, 4. Squish another cockroach, 3, 4.

Throw the money, 2. In your pocket, 2. Pop, 2. Then, freeze, 2.

Green, cross, green. Pocket, yeah? Fat cow.

In. And squish the cockroach. Squish the cockroach.

Throw the money. In your pocket. And we're going to go, 'Pop! Pop!' And then, I want you to go, 'I don't care.'

STUDENTS: I don't care.


This sequence has been done in unison, but to give it some dynamics, now try and add variation. Begin the 'Green Fingernail' dance in one direction, then change direction halfway through. Perhaps both rows of students are facing opposite directions.

Now, we can also add variation by changing the formation of the group. Placing the students within the space in different formations can add to the excitement of the piece. Another way to add variation is to use different tempo, the speed of the movement. For example, the first 2 movement phrases you could use on a slow tempo. Perhaps on the on-beat of the music. Then, speed up the second part of the dance on the half-beat.

Use a canon or a staggered start with different students. This can be very exciting but may need a little practice. In a formation, for example, 2 students in a forward line and 3 students behind in another line.

The first line will begin the movement while the second line freezes. The second line can begin, perhaps, one lot of 8 beats later. This will give your 'Green Fingernail' dance a pattern.

Okay. The students are ready now to create their own dance by the teacher facilitating the students' word phrases. Maybe a student comes up with a crazy word for the teacher or students to respond with a dance movement. Or the teacher can throw a word at the student to respond with their own movement. Use the same formula for the students to create their own dance.

Some things to remember. Get creative with visual and word stimulus such as, 'green fingernails', to engage with students. Reinforce what they are learning through repetition. Build on existing material by adding new moves, called dance blocks, to sequences.

Use your students' imagination to create ideas. Feel free to adapt any movements to suit the abilities of individual students. Allow the students a sense of ownership in the creative process.

[dance music playing]

Green! Cross! Green. Cross. Cow.

Squish. Squish. Throw. Pop. Good!

By adding, each week, some short dance sequences together, you can create a performance piece for the next assembly or school concert. In the next session, we will look at creating a dance program.

End of transcript