When it comes to teaching young people the wonderful art of dance, there are many aspects to consider when creating choreography tailored for their specific age groups. Too many times we see young people on stage dancing in inappropriate ways, in inappropriate costumes to inappropriate songs about adult topics. This can not only make the audience uncomfortable, but can be detrimental to their development as a performer, if we introduce these topics too soon in performances.
The first step is to make music choices that can be enjoyed by all parties involved. Picking songs that are too monotone or unheard of by kids can be a real drag on the energy level the kids feel with it, thus creating a monotone experience for the kids, and a monotone performance for the audience. It’s best to try to pick something classic that is a for sure audience favorite. The parents in the audience love to be entertained by some of their favorite songs growing up or even songs their parents used to play. Songs like ABC by the Jackson 5, Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets, Yellow Submarine by the Beatles, Life is a Highway by Rascall Flatts, Walk like an Egyptian by the Bangles, Groove is in the Heart by the B-52’s, I like to Move it by Wil.i.Am, Boogie Feever by the Sylvers, and I’m a Believer by Smashmouth just to name a few, are fun classics that would be totally age appropriate ideas for your little ones.
As professionals, we may sometimes feel a move is very easy. But in reality, on a small undeveloped child sometimes something as simple as a step touch can be very difficult. The most important thing when dealing with young children is to give them steps they can accomplish and do easily. Anytime they can act out the words or use a visual aid, it will help them understand the movement better. When it comes to the older dancers, it is important they are working on movement that is strong and connected. Their movement quality should be the main focus. Adding overly sexy style choices is a common mistake. You can add style to your dances with unique isolations, a good deep plie in inverted jazz fourth, and various focal changes that add depth and dimension to their dancing with out over doing it.
As Dancer’s Grow Into the Teen Years
As your dancers get older, it can get a little trickier. By the time they reach middle school, they feel they are “mature.” They see themselves in two piece costumes dancing to “Cry” from Dance Moms. How can we inspire our tweens to want to dance to things that are age appropriate? Try to get into their heads to look for music that is like, what they like but maybe has a topic that the choreographer and they are into. It doesn’t have to be dramatic and sad to express emotion through dance though. Try to choose a song and concept that will bring joy or happiness into their dancing for the stage.
When it comes to costuming, with any age, I always ask my self these questions. Does it look flattering on every dancer? Does it go with the piece? Would they feel comfortable wearing it in front of their family? These questions are so important. As a choreographer, you never want the costuming to affect the dance in a negative way. You want your dancers to be confident, professional with clean movements on stage. Wearing tights and costumes that cover the body and are flattering are your best bet to create an overall age appropriate piece of choreography.