Teacher Training - Creative Dance

The information provided is a compilation of 20 Years experience. One of my greatest mentors was the Late Charlene Tarver, the founder of the Grant MacEwan Dance Program. I was fortunate to study with her in the final years of the Teacher Training program at GMCC. She was a genius with children and creative dance. Many of the exercises and dances I share today were created or influenced by Charlene Tarver, and an in depth study went into every exercise analyzing: concept, space, time, level, sequencing, musicality, dynamic range, physical, mental, emotional development, and inspiration.

Quotes from Charlene that I carry with me are:

“A child does not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

“You don’t teach what you know, you teach who you are.”

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Opening. Introduction. Safety.

Boundaries – Kids Love them!

At the start of class, kids line up at the door. Explain that entrance to the classroom is by invitation and that the dance space is a respected environment in which certain rules of behavior apply.

  • Begin with a few minutes of free hoop play to explore and adjust to the new space.
  • In the first class, walk the room. Explain that the Barre’s are a special training place that must be respected (NOT Monkey bars). Address any other elements pertaining to the new space.
  • Define close space (personal) and open space (Letter “T” without touching anyone).
  • Define where “sticky land ” is.
  • Explore and play, then begin with the class

1) In and out of hoop- fwd. side. back. / fly, gallop, skitter

2) Return hoops

Circle ~ Warm up. Skill. Song Development.


1) Ring around the rosie
2) Name Dance
3) Toaster Dance
4) Curling into a tiny ball/ shoot out tall
5) Boat/ rocking dance
6) Rolling down/surprise game
7) Heels and palms and finger that shake/ feet
8) Crab walking/ Bear walk
9) Seal stretch
10) Childs pose
11) Shake out your ‘sillies’
12) Wiggle your fingers

Locomotion. Across the Floor.

1) Tight rope walking fwd./ back
2) Sideways locomotion- “Cat and Mouse”
3) Partners/ belly button eyes
4) Individual
5) Galloping
6) Marching
7) Honk the horn with your heels/ jumping
8) 3/4 time plies with suspension
9) Hopping
10) Skipping
11) Skittering backwards
12) Run with suspension
13) Diagonal cross overs for spatial awareness

Freedom. Exploration. Sequencing. Open Space.

1) Scarves
2) Hoops
3) Bean bags
4) Obstacle course
5) Rhythm sticks
6) Pear, Apple, Pineapple, Watermelon
7) Combining elements

The “ Event” Open Space. Complex Space.

The “ Event” is a story line that is created for the class that brings together all of the explored elements.


1) Chicken in the egg / pokes out/ shakes off yolk/ freedom in wings/ scarves and flying space. (Develops level, height, dynamic, speed, spacial awareness etc.)

2) Humpty Dumpty Dance with Hoops or without. (Explores Shape, Dynamic, falls, spirals, locomotion, imagination.)

3) Seasonal events- Holidays, weather, events.


I always use many kinds of music in each class to expose them to different soundscapes, feels and cultural rhythms.

Suggestions to download

1) Barbatuques
2) Keith Terry
3) Leon Parker
4) Music for Tap Dancers volumes 1,2,3,4
5) Bobby McFerrin and Yo Yo Ma
6) Mickey Hart
7) Classical
8) Jazz
9) World Music

Conclusion Stage. Calm Space. Gratitude.

1) Clean up
2) Circle
3) Thank you’s
4) Goodbye Dance
5) Line / Train to door

Teacher’s Course – General Overview- All Levels

Sequencing Instruction 

1) Introduction/Warm- up

2) Understanding/Activity Stage

3) Application/Dance

4) Concluding or Evaluation/ Cool Down and Review

The Warm Up

The Warm up varies from a fairly long period initially, to a short period once the students are familiar and competent with the routine. The purpose of the warm up is to increase the blood flow to the muscles, tendons and ligaments in preparation for more vigorous activity. This reduces the likelihood of injury due to muscle pulls, improves reaction time and improves the speed of movement of muscles and ligaments. It also reduces post exercise muscle recovery time. It’s effect is optimum when it is a consistent routine that provides a sense of ritual to the class, is easily accomplished by all participants and provides an introductory stage both physically and mentally to the class. It should be taught over a period of time adding new elements judiciously when students are approaching competence with the existing material.

Understanding and Application. The Skill Development Stage

Teach from the easy to the more difficult, from the known to the unknown. In some cases, this may mean from a general movement to a specific movement ex) a basic rhythmic exercise to a more complex exploration. Provide an opportunity for repetition or practice. Provide an opportunity to use skill in a combination. Use a variety of teaching methods or strategies. Encourage total participation and involvement and provide individual assistance.

Concluding Stage

This should be slightly shorter and proceed slowly from a high activity stage to the slower activity stages and in some cases should include some stretching. It is an excellent time for mentally reviewing the information covered in the lesson, and for obtaining feedback from the students. Any task or responsibility that the student will be expected to have at the following lesson should be reiterated.

Statement of Content

It is important that the students are aware of the focus for the lesson as there are many ways of approaching the material. It also helps to review in their minds the work that has occurred previously which may be similar in nature. The need to make material relevant to the whole is extremely important to the adult learner as they have little time for “busy work”.

Decision on Teaching Strategy

Dance education should strive to attain a balance between the practical skills (Body), intelligence and mental understanding (Mind), the enjoyment of the activity (Emotional/ Heart), and the freedom of creative expression (Spirit / Soul). As educators, our goal is to inspire the interest of the student to attain their physical and practical skills while encouraging their individual creativity in a safe and supportive environment.