Why do we use Props when we dance?
The benefits of using Props in lessons
By Tiffany Matthews
Now what little one doesn’t love a hula hoop to play with? Whether that’s out in the garden or around the house, there is a lot of fun to be had! Whilst we use props in Tappy Toes lessons to engage our dancers and keep them interested, there is also a great benefit to the props we use. They help dancers develop a range of skills…..
Spatial awareness-Dancers become aware of their own personal space and the space of dancers around them. When using larger props like hoops, it is important they find their own, ’space’.
Coordination– Using two parts of the body at the same time can be tricky but using a prop can enable dancers to do this with more ease. For example, moving a scarf through the air with your arms, whilst turning on your feet at the same time!
Balance– Holding a position and being completely still can often make us wobble. But balancing a bean bag on our head and walking focuses our minds and helps us pull up and improve our posture.
Improved gross motor skills– In classes we move in all different ways- walking, hopping, jumping and rolling. Using props can get us moving in different ways and gives our bodies a chance to practise these movements. When using balls or beans bags, dancers can throw them up and jump to catch them! Rocking teddies gently from side to side means they can practise transferring their weight from one foot to another!
Focus– Using our eyes is very important when we are dancing. It draws the audience in, helps us communicate meaning and emphasises our movements. Using scarves and bubbles means we can get dancers to think about ‘looking up’ and also following the movement of a scarf with their eyes.
Energy– Another way of thinking about energy is the amount of power in movements. Are they sharp and fast or are they gentle and light? Having a dance with different dynamics is interesting! When using pom-poms, we can help dancers achieve these qualities more easily- a sharp punch forwards, or a gentle shake of the pom-poms downwards just like rain.
Sensitivity – Showing an awareness of other dancers and the props we are using is important when dancing. When we use our hoops in lessons it makes dancers start to think about their ‘space’ and how they need to be careful with their prop whilst exploring it. Using our teddies means dancers place them gently down to the floor so they don’t wake them, ssshh!
Musicality and Rhythm – It is important we can pick out the highlights and lowlights in music and reflect this in our dance. Using instruments like maracas and tambourines helps our dancers do this. They can change speed with the music and go fast or slow. They can also learn to shake their instruments in time.
Characterisation– We do dances about lots of different things at Tappy Toes. Sometimes we are monkeys, dinosaurs, cats or even monsters! Taking on a different role changes your movement and using a mask can sometimes help us be more like our character. When we are dinosaurs, we stamp our feet heavily on the ground!
The use of a prop also helps little ones choreographically. It means they can use their imaginations and explore different ways of moving. Often using a prop means dancers come up with original and creative ideas that they might not have thought of before, for example, …. ‘I’m brushing away the cobwebs with my scarf’ or ‘my pom pom is coming down like snow’. Props can provide a creative outlet and let the mind wander, which is one of the many benefits of dance.
What props might you see us using in a Tappy Toes lesson?
- Hula hoops
- Masks (from dinosaurs to monkeys!)
- Bean bags
- Glo balls
So come along to one of our classes and see for yourself. Your little dancers will not only improve all these skills but have great fun doing so too! Learn to love dancing!
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