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.
For more advanced classes, use two or more cards and have them create Enchainements of the Battement exercises.
This activity is good for learning technical corrections. Once the Battement is identified and practiced, students can be asked how to improve the movement. Give them one correction to work on each time they repeat it.
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.
Any two Battements can be used. Students should clearly show the difference in height. Saying the names of the Battements as they do them will help them to remember the terms.
For extra challenge in a teen class, alternate between two different connecting steps, changing off on part 5, or on both 3 and 5.
Note that it is more difficult to do a straight leg Battement and a bending leg Battement in a sequence than to do two straight ones or two bending ones.
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.
This should help them to realize that the direction of a step is named from the dancer, and that Devant, Derriere, En Avant, En Arriere, Dessous, and Dessus can be done facing any of the stage directions. For example, Glissade En Avant can be done in all eight stage directions. En Avant means forward of the dancer. This may or may not be forward on the stage.
This activity can be used with almost any step. All of the Compass directions can be used, but it may be confusing to use more than two or three in any one class session.
“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.
Do They Understand? Some students may not realize that the clapping sounds represent the instant at which their feet connect with the floor! Quite often those with little or no Ballet experience will assume they are to be in the air on the claps.
“Clap and Dance!” For Teens
In 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.
A complete dance for recital or demonstration can be arranged by combining the created sequences of the different groups of students in the class.
“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.
Enjoy these great games with your class and then comment below to share your experiences! For more ideas for games, especially for the younger ones, see Games for the Ballet Classroom.
- Play and Ballet
- Games for the Ballet Classroom
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