Kids love to jump. My students share with me images of flying through the air like a bird, plane, or butterfly and blasting off like rocket ships. They love being air borne and I love that they are experiencing gravity, momentum, and suspension first hand. The lovely Ashley Horn inspired this lesson plan, and I am sure many dance teachers are using most if not all of its components at some point in time in their class. I think the use of language is key is sustaining an interest of its repetition throughout the year.
There are five ways of jumping, this is not dance specific and can apply to any form of movement. In parenthesis I have included one example from dance.
I like to spend time in each class exploring different ways of performing one or all of these types of jumps. I do not teach these movements as specific steps with precise beginning and endings, shapes, or in turnout. We DO describe the take off and landing for all jumps and talk about using demi plié to give ourselves power to propel in the air. We talk about landing softly and quietly; this automatically encourages toe, ball, heel landings, and helps protect their joints. We talk about stretching the feet and knees in the air when appropriate. I remind the dancers to start and finish on a certain number of feet. I often ask dancers to tell me what I need to know about jumping. This gives them an opportunity to review these basic jump "rules" on their own, and gives them ownership of the material.
It helps my young dancers to have something concrete to relate to when jumping. You can use any variety of props. I like to use circle, square, or star dots, bean bags, cones, and hula hoops. This is an example of how we might explore "jump" in class:
I also like to present multiple ways of jumping together as an obstacle course. You can use any variety of props- as long as there are different types of items for different jumps. I try and emphasize ballet vocabulary when we do obstacle courses. Since the dancers have to take turns, using the vocabulary gives them something to focus on and learn while they are waiting for their turn. We will say the French vocabulary as each student performs the jump.
How do you encorporate jumping into class? I would love more ideas on how to work on these skills!n
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