Ever had issues in your pre-ballet classes with students who always choose the same partner? For many ballet students, the experience of class is a very social one that can shape who they become. Not being chosen as someone’s partner week after week can be very damaging to a young dancer. As a teacher, when you announce it’s time for partner work, keep in mind the self-esteem of your dancers and perhaps try using Partner Cards!
Partner Cards Can Teach AttitudesThe cards are a fun and fair way to assign partners to work with for that day. I have used this system of assigning partners with all ages. It is fair. It gets them dancing with someone other than their best buddy. It helps teach the concept that a dancer with a professional attitude will perform with their assigned partner cooperatively and without complaint. If we are going to be good dancers, we need to get used to dancing with partners of all abilities, and of all personalities. Besides, it’s fun to get to know our classmates! Using the cards takes the pressure off having to choose a partner! Even adult students will often choose the partner that they feel they have to for one reason or another. This can detract from both the discipline and the fun of the Ballet class. The cards can be used to build a feeling of friendship among all of the class members. There are nine matched pairs, and an odd one. The unmatched card is a Cat. After you have collected the cards, tell them to make a circle, and to find out their friend’s name, age, and favorite color (or any other favorite that you decide). The Cat could exchange this information with you, or your assistant. This helps them to feel more like they are friends with everyone in the class. When students feel that they belong in the ballet class, that their classmates are friends, they are far less likely to get discouraged and quit.
Using The Cards The First Time
- Select the number of cards needed that day. Divide the number of students in attendance by two, and include that many pairs. Lay the extra pairs aside. If there is an odd number of students, include the Cat (the unmatched card).
- Close the cards and mix them casually. Look around at your class, but say nothing. You might silently count the students and then count the cards, to attract their attention and curiosity. You might say something, such as, “I have to be very sure these cards are well mixed.”
- Let each one choose a card from your hands. You decide who chooses, by calling out their name, or by taking the cards to them. Good courtesy should be observed: one at a time, no grabbing.
- Tell them: “Open your card. Find the person who has a card that matches yours. That is your partner for today. When you have found your partner, bring me your cards. If you get the Cat, come to me and I will tell you what to do.”
- Have them do the next exercise with their partners in a circle. The “Cat” can watch the first turn, dance with the teacher or an assistant, or dance with an imaginary partner.
- The “Cat” now gets to choose a partner for the next turn. This leaves a new person without a partner. That person is the “Cat” for the next turn. (Don’t try to give “even turns” as Cat in any one class. It takes too long!)
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