Form and/or Function
When entering the studio, the aim is to get the dancer’s body and mind ready for class. Games help achieve this by increasing the heart rate, creating focus and enabling the participants to meet in a playful way, get to know each other and bond as a community of learners.
Notes on our approach
Many participants have assumptions about how the class will be taught and assume (what they think is) a dancer’s way of moving. This often excludes many of their inherent movement possibilities and qualities. Games allow the teacher to observe each dancer’s individual ways of moving, communicating and participating.
All games have rules and intentions but we also play with these rules, adjust them and invent new games. In a set up with disabled and non-disabled participants, the aim is to create rules that make the game exciting for all those taking part. Depending on the class set up, games can be played before class whilst waiting to get started or be integrated into the class structure.
For the research period, where the dancers took part in multiple sessions, we discussed with the dancers which games can be played in the dance studio. This included games the children already knew and we also invented and introduced both energetic and quiet games. During the breaks and immediately before class, the children usually spontaneously chose and organised a game to play, including: Grandma’s Footsteps, Stuck in the Mud, Musical Statues, various forms of Tag, the Library Game (I think this is a game the dancers invented) and Telephone Game (passing on words, rhythms, touch or movements).
Within the sessions, we used games as an icebreaker for the dancers to meet, play and interconnect with each other. The idea of play also transitions seamlessly into movement exercises, teaching and learning through exploration, improvisation and creative processes.
Playground games develop into movement games, dance exercises and learning strategies, shifting from informal to more formal ways of working. Many of the more complex learning strategies like drop and join, accumulating etc. can be introduced, practised and played as improvisations and games.