For Teachers

Props and Equipment for Dance Class

9:09 PM

Have I mentioned how useful Facebook is? Today I wasn't feeling like writing any of the gazillion drafts I've already started, and I get on Facebook and see a teacher asking a question, and I'm like "Oh. I got this."

Just saying.

Props are important in dance class for a few reasons - for the younger kids, having them move and do something with a prop takes a lot of coordination and focus. For older dancers, it's great conditioning. For pre-professional dancers, it's important to learn how to use props the right way.

I've also included equipment on this list, particularly for pre-professional and competitive dancers who have different needs from recreational dancers.

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Here is a list of props, tools, and equipment, and ideas on how to use them properly and for what age group.

Littles, ages 1-6
  • Beanie Babies - these are my go-to prop (even for ages 6-9) because they're fun, super cheap, available at every thrift store on the planet, or in huge lots on ebay, you can spray them down with lysol after every class, and you can toss them in the washing machine once a semester and disinfect them.
    • balance "baby" on your head, shoulder, elbow, back, foot, knee, etc. 
    • Rock-a-bye baby teaches temps lie
    • Place baby on the floor and jump over, back, side to side (great for learning pas de chat)
    • place multiple babies on the floor and teach run and leap over "both babies at the same time," then start placing more of them on the floor. Most 2-3 year olds can leap over 5 beanie babies. This teaches them to stretch their legs
  • Scarves (I've found most of mine at thrift stores)
    • Hold one in each hand, and make butterfly wings - great warm-up for upper body, strengthening, and stretching
    • hold one in one hand, and rock and paint a rainbow in the sky, draw criss-cross, making shapes, etc.
  • Ribbon Sticks (easy to make, or fairly inexpensive)
    • Again with painting rainbows
    • walk up to the mirror, put the ribbon in front of you. walk backwards while making snakes on the ground, dragons, large and small, while they look in the mirror and walk backwards. Great for mirror awareness and balance. 
    • Freeze dance. 'nuff said.
  • Hula Hoops
    • jump "in" and "out" of the rabbit holes
    • Line up end to end to teach "dancing space" while waiting in line
    • Learning Shuffles (check out this video, or watch it below)

  • Rhythm Sticks (sticks wrapped in tape to prevent splinters)
  • Wands
    • Great for "follow the leader" 
    • dress-up time
    • makes Reverance time even more fun. 
  • Musical Instruments (noise shakers, bells, drums, triangles, tambourines, etc)
    • learning rhythm
    • taking turns (one person play their instrument at a time)
    • coordination of the body dancing and making sound at the same time!
  • Dots
    • recognizing their spot 
    • jumping over
    • jumping on (or on and off)
    • obstacle course
    • Training directional movement (go from this dot to that dot, then to that dot)
Beginner Students (ages 6-9)
  • Tambourines 
    • great for teaching character and folk dancing
    • coordination (as mentioned above)
    • not too "little kid-ish" 
  • Beanie babies
    • teaching leaps, pas de chat, sissone, and ballet runs
    • Have students walk across the room toe-heel to help gain body awareness
Intermediate Students (ages 9-12)
  • Fans for character work
  • Therabands 
  • Resistance loops
  • Foam Roller
  • Massage balls (NOT lacrosse or golf balls)
  • Tennis balls (an absolute must)
    • Use for massaging cramping feet and tight pelvic muscles
    • Squeeze together while laying on the stomach to activate the inner thighs
    • Understand the idea of "squeezing the heel down" by having the student releve, and then lower their heels and push a tennis ball into the ground. 
  • Turn boards (but only when using them properly! learn how to use a turn board effectively here)
  • Rotation Disks

Advanced Dancers (pointe for 2 years, trains 10+ hours a week)

Got any suggestions to add to the list? Leave a comment below and I'll be sure to add it in!

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