Welcome to the second week of New Victory Arts Break! Guided by New Victory Teaching Artists, Arts Break is an opportunity for you and your family to discover new skills from the comfort of your own home. Show or no show (see why we had to cancel our season here), our nonprofit is committed to bringing the performing arts to the widest possible audience, and inspiring you to make art, and make memories, together!
Last week, we focused on rhythm and percussion. This week, it’s time to get up and move! You could love to dance or not have a clue—this week’s activities are designed to help you explore dance and movement as a family in fun, approachable ways. Let’s get started!
25 – 30 minutes, Ages 4 – 10
Before we start moving and shaking, we need to stretch! Stretching warms up our muscles and helps prepare our bodies for movements big and small. Change into comfortable clothes, and then follow along with the stretches below to help kick off your week of dance!
Try holding or repeating each of these stretches for 10 to 20 seconds:
- Roll your shoulders backwards and forwards.
- Stretch your arms all the way up towards the ceiling.
- Sit on the floor in the butterfly position, with your knees bent and the bottoms of your feet touching each other. Now, try to smell your toes. Pee-yew!
- Lift your shoulders up towards your ears.
- Bend over and stretch your arms towards your toes. Can you touch your toes? Your shins? Your knees?
Now that you’re warmed up, let’s get inspired! The dancers in Mons Dansa’s Paper Dreams (New Victory 2016) were inspired by the stories left untold on sheets torn from a sketchpad. Take a look:
Ready to move? New Victory Teaching Artist Blanca Vivancos has a dancing game to share with you inspired Paper Dreams. Grab a sheet of plain paper or fabric, like a towel or pillowcase, and follow along.
Modification for 2–5-year-olds: If your littler ones still have some Monday wiggles to get out, try this mirroring game instead.
Step One: With your family, decide who wants to be the leader first.
Step Two: Put on some music to get into the groove!
Step Three: The leader begins doing slow movements and everyone else mirrors them—they do not have to be dance moves! Looking for some great ways to start? Try one of the following:
- Put your hands up towards the sky.
- Get on your tiptoes and move around.
- Wiggle your body from head to toe.
Step Four: Make sure everyone in your family gets a turn to be the leader. Try limiting yourselves to three or four moves before switching off.
15 – 20 minutes, Ages 4 – 10
Let’s warm up today with a game of Freeze Dance. Follow along with New Victory Artistic Programming Associate Alverneq Lindsay, but don’t let her catch you moving when the music stops!
No moves? No problem. Today, we’re going to play with creating our own choreography.
Step One: Fill in the blanks of this Choreo-Lib template. Read the blanks aloud and fill them in like a madlib. Don’t read ahead to see what the movements are—that will spoil the fun!
Step Two: Read out the movements with the numbered words filled in. Try to learn the dance you’ve created. As you practice, see if you can do it without reading the madlib!
Step Three: Give your new dance a unique name. Try combining a detail about your home, like your neighborhood, street, or maybe just the room where you’re dancing, with an action verb. The Stuyvesant Shuffle? The Bedroom Bop?
Step Four: Set your new dance to music! Choose three totally different songs. How do different songs affect your dance?
Now let’s see if we can create movement based on sound. The tempo and tone of music can make a dance come to life, but so can everyday sounds! In this activity, listen to the sounds around you to see what makes you groove.
Step One: Wherever you are, listen to the sounds around you. If you’re indoors, try opening a window. Think:
- Is there music playing? What kind of music is it?
- Is there a lot of noise? Almost silent?
- Can I hear an engine running? A train squeaking? A bird calling?
- Is someone singing? Talking? Laughing?
Step Two: Pick something that you hear and try to listen to only that. Now it’s time to find the rhythm. Try to tap out the rhythm to whatever you hear on your body. Think:
- Is it fast?
- Repetitive? Or does it change?
Step Three: You found the rhythm of the music by tapping it out on your body. Where else you can find the rhythm. Can you find it:
- In your shoulders?
- In your hips?
- In your feet?
- In your neck?
- In your fingers?
- In your chin?
- In your nose?
- In your eyes?
Step Four: Now listen to the quality and tone of the sound. Think of an expression that represents how the sound makes you feel.
- Does it make you happy?
- Does it scare you?
- Does it make you curious?
- Does it make you want to move your body?
Step Five: Add the expressions to the rhythms you found in various parts of your body. Maybe you have happy fingers, energetic hips and a curious nose. This is your dance phrase!
Step Six: Put on different songs and see how your phrase changes depending on the different rhythms of music.
Your Unique Dance
25 – 30 minutes, Ages 4 – 10
Many choreographers draw on their own personal stories when creating dance, putting a little bit of themselves into every movement. Akram Khan Company’s Chotto Desh (New Victory 2016) told the autobiographical story of choreographer Akram Khan, who was born the son of a cook but dreamt of becoming a dancer.
Let’s create some movement based on something about yourself that you are probably very familiar with: your name! Follow along with New Victory Teaching Artist Penelope McCourty in a video she made when Chotto Desh was on our stage.
Of course, there’s more to you than just your name. Individuality is whatever makes you stand out from everyone else. In this activity, find out what your family thinks is unique about you and share it proudly through dance.
Materials: Tape, Markers, Paper
Step One: Tape a piece of paper to each person’s back.
Step Two: On each other’s papers, write qualities, special skills, creative style choices and anything that makes that person stand out! For example, maybe your dad is excellent at making pancakes, or your little brother always wears mismatched socks. Once you’re finished, pull off the papers and see what everyone wrote!
Step Three: Choose one or two words and create a gesture or movement inspired by those words. For example, if your family wrote that you’re smart, your gesture could be tapping your head.
Step Four: Now it’s time to turn that gesture into a dance move! Find a way to add musicality to the gesture and create an eight-count movement. This means doing the move for eight counts or beats—you can repeat the move eight times or do it slowly so it lasts eight seconds. For example, if you were to do the hands-over-your-heart gesture, you could do it eight times in repetition, or do it in slow motion for 8 seconds.
Step Five: If you are with your family, teach each other the movements you created and find ways to put them together into a dance that represents you all. For example, if one move was jumping up and down and another move was putting your hands over your heart, you could transition during the eighth jump by putting your hands over your heart on your way down.
Outside Inside the Box
20 – 25 minutes, Ages 6 – 14
Today we’re going to go outside the box by dancing inside the box. Huh? Today’s activities are inspired by HyperISH (New Victory 2014) from Amsterdam-based dance-theater group ISH, which fused dance styles from the Dutch street scene and club circuit with themes of self-expression. Take a look:
As you can see from the video, boxes, rectangles and squares were used in many different ways throughout HyperISH. Performers danced inside them, on top of them and through them, and imitated their edges and angles with their bodies. In this activity, invite your family to investigate cubes and squares in your home.
Step One: Pick a room in our home and try to find as many squares and rectangles as possible. Look for picture frames, tables, TVs. How big are the shapes? How small are the shapes? Can you find shapes within shapes?
Step Two: Now, use your body to make shapes like the performers in HyperISH. How many ways can you make a square with your body? Can you make a big square? Can you make a little square? Can you make multiple squares simultaneously with different body parts?
Step Three: How else can you make a square? Can you make a square with a partner? Can you make a square using household objects? What about a cube?
Step Four: Choose three favorite ways you made a square or cube. Pick an order and decide how you will transition from one square to the next to create a dance!
Can you think of any dance styles that draw on the geometry of squares and boxes? Maybe you’ve heard of the waltz box step or the jazz square, but have you heard of vogue? Follow along with New Victory Teaching Artist Alberto Denis to learn some basic voguing!
Modification for 2–5-year-olds: Have a littler one at home? Put on their favorite song and have them try dancing with only straight arms. Once they have mastered that, then add in the challenge of dancing with straight arms and straight legs. They should look like little robot voguers as they bop and groove to the music.
30 – 35 minutes, Ages 5 – 14
Different communities around the world have different cultural dances. In Ethiopia, there’s a traditional style of dance called eskista that involves lots of shoulder movement. You may have seen eskista on the New Victory stage in Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams from Addis Ababa’s Bibi and Bichu.
Follow along with New Victory Teaching Artist P. Tyler Britt to learn a simple dance inspired by the movements of eskista and music from Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams.
Does your family have a traditional dance? What about a favorite dance from popular culture, like the Electric Slide or the Harlem Shake? In this activity, share your dance knowledge with your family and challenge one another.
Step One: Grab a piece of paper and pen for each of you, then put 60 seconds on the clock.
Step Two: Separately, write the names of as many dance moves you can in 60 seconds. Need help? Check out the list of classic dance moves at the end of the activity.
Step Three: Now swap papers and challenge each other. How many of the moves on the list do you know?
Step Four: Choose a move from each list that one of your family members doesn’t know and teach it to them!
Step Five: Put on some music, and have a dance-off! See if you can each perform at least five moves from your list.
Looking for more contemporary inspiration? Check out the Eh Bee Family challenging each other to a series of Fortnite dances.
Classic Dance Moves: The Moonwalk, The Hokey-Pokey, The Hustle, The Charleston, The Mashed Potato, The Robot, The Twist, The Macarena, The Running Man, The Worm, The Sprinkler, Raise the Roof, Y.M.C.A.
We hope you enjoyed this second week of New Victory Arts Break. In case you missed it, check out last week’s rhythm and percussion activities, and keep coming back for more arts-based fun in the weeks ahead.
You are a part of the New Victory community, and we want to see you, and hear from you! We appreciate how you have been a loyal audience to us, and now we want to return the favor. Show us how you’re using New Victory Arts Break at home and share your creative work with us! Tag us on Instagram @newvictorytheater.