Traditional American Dancing

Through a variety of dances, children learn the "do-si-do" and "swing your partner" that every American knows of.  We start out simple, so that we're dancing quickly, and each dance builds upon those before it.  Potential dances include classics, such as George Washington's favorite, "Rural Felicity," and "The Virginia Reel," as well as more modern dances which reflect more contemporary values while still respecting the tradition.  

These sessions can fit a 45-60 minute time period typically used for physical education or music classes, ideally with 20-25 students.  Larger groups spread over longer periods, as with two combined classes, is another option, especially for older children.  

A special family dance night is a great way to wrap up a week of dancing.  Students bring their families, share what they have learned, help teach their parents and siblings, and everyone has a great time.  Live music makes for an extra special event.


English Country Dancing

These traditional dances from England include both the elegance of court and the rowdiness of the countryside.  They are quite likely the predecessors to our American dances, but also reflect Celtic and continental influences.  

English country dance nicely compliments lessons in social studies, where aspects of both history and etiquette can be highlighted, or as a part of a multi-cultural program.  

These sessions can be as accessible as American dances, and arranged in similar time periods.  Alternatively, they can be a part of a more thorough, on-going program leading to a "ball," where students and their parents enjoy elegance and precision after learning a set of dances with more attention to detail.  


International Folk Dancing

Because people all around the world share many different dancing traditions, sometimes it is nice to have a sampling from many different places.  We learn familiar lessons about community and social interaction from these dances, too, while also discovering similarities and celebrating differences between cultures.  Through these dances, we might visit France, Serbia, Turkey, Greece, Scotland, and England, and maybe even the US.

Sessions of 45-60 minutes for 20-25 students is ideal.


Teaching Traditional Dance for Teachers

Teaching traditional dancing is fun, and being able to do so is a great skill for teachers across the curriculum.  In these sessions designed specifically for elementary school teachers, we look at effective ways to teach the various dances, prompting dance figures with the music as children are dancing, and incorporating important social skills and community consciousness.  The focus is practical:  we dance as we cover these topics, with plenty of time for everyone to experience working with newly developing skills.  

We also talk about resources for developing a repertoire of suitable dances and a collection of recordings which children will find exciting and fun to dance to.  

Eight to ten participants is ideal, though this can vary some.  Two sessions of 2-2.5 hours with a break in the middle work best.  

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Houston, Texas      yusuf at umich dot edu