#FromTheSQJudgesChair – Holidaze

November 26th, 2019 by Elizabeth Radabaugh


HolidayIn case you haven’t walked into any store, anywhere, it’s the Holiday season! This time of the year can be challenging for your classes as well. I like to call it the “Holidaze”. Holidaze is the process of your class losing concentration, becoming chattier, and finding anyway to distract the dance teacher during the holiday season. In today’s blog, we’ll be discussing ways to stay in the holiday spirit, but also continue to work on technique, performance quality, teamwork and concentration in the classroom.


“Can we play a game?”

This is the time of year your kids will no doubt ask, “Can we play a game?”. As annoying as this question might be, games can build moral, teamwork, and confidence. While you would love to work more on their technique, you also know that you’re not going to get much out of them during this time of year. So, do both! I’m sure you’ve all heard of the infamous “Freeze Dance” game and while it might be fun, I don’t think it works on their actual dance skills very much. The key is to find a game that is productive and fun. Get creative and try to implement technique and teamwork! HolidayFor instance, in my tap classes, I love to play a game called “Jingles”. You split your class into small groups, have each group pick a holiday jingle and have them make up their own combinations to match the rhythms of the jingle. At the end of class, each group performs and the rest of the class tries to guess the jingle by listening to their combination. It’s a great way to stay in the holiday spirit and it promotes teamwork and rhythm skills!


Music and Choreography

It’s also fun to put on some holiday tunes. Changing up the type of music you normally play tends to peak your students’ interest and engages their concentration. There are so many choices to choose from. From classical to pop, you’re sure to find songs that get everyone into the holiday spirit. Create a holiday playlist and go back to it year after year. One of my favorite things to do is pick a song from a holiday movie and create a combination from there. Movies like White Christmas, Home Alone, The Grinch and Elf all have awesome soundtracks and great characters. Create a combo and explain the scene. Create a little number for them. Explain how to depict their characters.  Explain the feeling of the song. Even if they haven’t seen the movie before, they will still be interested because they can work on characterization and stay in the holiday spirit. I also love going across the floor with progressions to songs like, “All I Want for Christmas” by Mariah Carey, “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by NSYNC and “Carol of the Bells” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. They all have a strong steady downbeat perfect for across the floor combinations. If you love it, they will love it. Have fun and let your holiday spirit shine!


Social Media Posts

HolidaySometimes games don’t always work with older students. They can find them a little juvenile. So, turn to social media. One thing I tried making last year was a holiday Instagram video. We found a holiday song, learned a little combo and split them into groups to each perform. It was a hit! It was super simple and I could see certain students working together who wouldn’t normally pair up. It created an environment for comradery and teamwork.  Pending your studio’s social media policy, I tagged the studio’s name and began to see how many other studios liked our video. It was a great way to keep the older kids interested and promote your studio’s holiday spirit.


Keep Things Interesting

Even if your students during the holiday season have the attention span of an ant, create ways to pull them back in. Create games, combos and videos to peak their interest. Use this fun time of the year to cultivate teamwork and comradery. Don’t just simply pass out candy but, find ways to implement the technique you’ve worked hard to achieve for your students. Keep it fun but, keep it productive! Happy Holidaze!


Marissa Staniec is a performer, choreographer, teacher and adjudicator for StarQuest with over 20 years of experience in the dance industry. She also hosts, writes and produces her own podcast on iTunes called “Beyond the Mirror: A Dancer’s Podcast”.


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