Games in the ballet classroom can be very effective teaching tools. As the students take advantage of a time of rest from their technique class, you can continue their ballet education through creative, team-building, skill-developing activities. Explained below are some great ballet class games that will teach vocabulary, direction, rhythm practice and choreographic skills. Most are intended for the older students, though they can be modified to suit your younger students as well.
“Which Battement Is It?”Use flash cards with the names of the Battements that your class knows or is learning. Divide the class into teams. Each team draws a card, and has about 20 seconds to decide how to do the exercise named on the card. The first team gives you their card and then shows their exercise. They show it En Croix, or in whatever pattern you ask them to use. The other teams must identify the exercise by its complete name. Everyone does that exercise. Then the second team shows their exercise, etc. This game gives practice in
- identifying the movement by seeing the name, and
- identifying the name by seeing the movement.
“Galloping Battements”A “connecting step” must be chosen for this game, such as Side Gallops, in a circle holding hands. Other possible steps: Walking, Running, forward Gallops, forward Gallops with a partner, Polka, Chassé, Temps Levé, etc. The connecting step can be done in a circle or diagonally.
- Do the connecting step four times with the right (counts 1-4).
- Do Battement Tendu Devant, and Battement Tendu Degagé (Glissé) Devant with the right foot (cts 5-8).
- Do the connecting step four times with the left.
- Do the two Battements Devant with the left.
- Repeat all, doing the Battements Derriere or A la Seconde the next time.
“Let’s Move!”Students work in pairs. Each pair is given a step or exercise to show, and a pair of directional words to use. One shows the Devant form, and the other shows the En Avant form. Or De Côté and A la Seconde; or Derriere and En Arriere. The rest of the class can be asked to name the step, and the direction each dancer is showing. Some steps and exercises will look the same, such as Battement Tendu. Most center steps will be different.
“Using the Compass”Have the students practice Battement Tendu En Croix on their Dancer’s Compass charts, saying the names: Devant, Under, Derriere, Over.
- First, they do it En Face with the right foot. Repeat with the left foot.
- Now try it facing Downstage Right.
- Repeat, facing Downstage Left.
“Can You Hear the Step?”Clap the rhythms of a Chassé Coupé, a Balancé, a Glissade, and a Pas de Bourrée. Each has its own rhythm pattern. Glissade and Chassé Coupé have a similar meter, but the accent is in a different place. The other two are quite different. Balancé is a 3/4 meter with three even steps: “one, two, three.” Pas de Bourrée is intended to be danced as a triplet rhythm with two upbeats: “and a one.”
- Practice with the class until they can clap the rhythms with you.
- You clap a rhythm, and the class dances the step as you clap.
- Divide the class in Half will clap a rhythm (chosen by them, or by you), and the other half must fit the correct step to the claps.
“Clap and Dance!” For TeensIn older classes, the students could be asked to combine the step with a second step of their own choosing. Instead of working alone, dancers could work in pairs, or teams. Students often find it easier to be creative with a partner, or a team of three or four dancers. · On their second tum the team could choreograph and be ready with a nicely choreographed ending using the last four measures of a 16-measure sequence. A suggested format for the finished 16 measure sequence:
- The assigned step for 4 measures.
- A step or Enchainement of their own choosing for 4 measures.
- The assigned step is repeated for 4 measures.
- An ending of their own, using the last 4 measures.
“Spot and Turn”
- Dancers stand one behind the other in two rows. The rows look at each other, then at the walls, etc.
- After four “spots” do a walking turn (3-step turn) away from the other row. Repeat the four “spots” starting with a look at the wall. Do a walking turn back to place. Continue through the music. Chaîné or Posé turns can be used. For challenge, call out a different turn each time they start over.
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