Fit to Dance:
Last week I had the pleasure of going to see Dream Big, the current Disney on Ice show at the O2. I like Disney films as a rule but I’m not into them in a big way. I can’t claim to be particularly interested in dance, either, Grade C GCSE notwithstanding. I’m one of the (seemingly few) people who don’t watch Strictly – it’s just not an art form I find myself appreciating very often! So I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I was offered the chance to see Disney on Ice, but I was pretty sure T would love it, so I gladly accepted. Well – it totally blew me away! I LOVED it – and more importantly, so did she! I wasn’t expecting to be that into it at all, but the show was really engaging. There were some seriously impressive costume and special effects (yes Maleficient’s Dragon, I’m looking at you) and I also really enjoyed the music. If I got the chance, I would one hundred percent go again!
Fit to Dance
As well as seeing the show, I’ve also been looking at Disney’s Fit to Dance programme; an educational resource which seeks to inspire both children’s story writing as well as their ability to use dance to tell stories. While the resources are primarily aimed at schools for use in a classroom setting, I’ve been using some of them in at home with T as part of her home education.
The resource includes two sets of lesson plans for both English and Dance. To complement the plans, there are also some printable worksheets and resources, as well as some videos, photos and music available online.
The English resources centre around children working as a class to create a shared story, inspired by common fairytale characters. There are four lesson plans which focus on developing a character; choosing and describing a setting; coming up with an obstacle for the character to overcome; and finally bringing it all together to create a story plan.
This is what T and I have been working on the past few days. Our current learning theme is the Arctic, so she chose to create a story with this as her setting. As we are in a home rather a classroom setting, we approached this slightly differently to how I might in a classroom, but the resource pack includes some useful starting points for class discussion and inspiration. T spent some time thinking about her character and then came up with a storyline through her play, using a small world scene.
Afterwards, she created a story plan which included her ‘obstacle’. Now she is working on using her story plan to create a little book, which is something I would also look to include if I were in a classroom setting. However, that’s the advantage of this kind of resource – you can use it for inspiration, pick what works best for you and your class, and adapt it to meet their needs and interests.
The Dance resources also include four lesson plans, which focus on using movement to explore characters and settings; showing the obstacles characters face through dance; and coming up with an end sequence for the choreography.
We will definitely be having a go at this in the coming days, but I do think it could be quite a challenge in a classroom setting. I – along with many other primary teachers – always found Dance (and PE as a whole) quite a difficult subject to teach, and I think it can be difficult to come up with a quality choreography as a class. However, the fact that the story is a piece of shared writing (rather than thirty individual stories) means you can share ideas and choose the best ones to create a choreography that you can all practise together. I think it might need more than four lessons if you wanted to show it in an assembly or to parents, but again, the resource has some great ideas and inspiration.
There are three parts to the resource which I think are particularly valuable:
- Some dance step ideas. In a classroom setting, I might teach these to the children near the beginning go the unit regardless of whether they were particularly suited to our story, as I think they would be good for giving children ideas of the kind of moves they might use.
- Music, which can be accessed online. The music is all Disney music but is instrumental, so lends itself to being used in other stories. It is sorted in to three categories: Big Entrance/Build Up; Upbeat & Energetic; and Slow Tempo. It can be quite difficult to source music which fits well with the dance so this is a really helpful part of the resource.
- Some video resources which include helpful tips from Disney on Ice professionals. This includes things such as how to use gestures to show expression, and how to bring your characters to life. These would be a really helpful starting point when looking at these areas with the children and I will definitely be sharing them with T before we have a go at coming up with some moves of our own.
If you are a teacher and would like to find out more about these resources, they are free to access online at https://www.fit-to-dance.com. Alternatively, if you don’t work in a school setting but would like to have a go with your own children, you can also find ideas on the website for using the resources in a family setting. Let me know how you get on!
Disclaimer: I was gifted the Disney on Ice tickets in return for this review, but all views are my own.