Creative dance workshops are such fun, and at Holmbush Primary School in West Sussex the dance workshops were based on the book of Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg.
One Year 4 class were studying the book in their English lessons, and they wanted to bring it alive with a creative workshop – that’s where we stepped in…
We had a whole day with them to teach a dance which they would then perform at the end to parents at the end of the school day. It was great to have so much time to really get to know the children, as well as being able to workshop lots of ideas before putting a finished dance piece together.
We focused on two main ideas for the dance: a dance using a prop, and then a dance using text taken from the book.
The prop we decided to make was a dice. In the book the story is based on an ancient board game where you roll the dice and usually something crazy happens! We gave everyone a dice template which was already cut out in card. They had to fold it up, and stick it together, and then draw their numbers (or dots) on to each side.
The first dance we taught them was all about using the dice in creative ways, rolling it, throwing it, and dancing with it to create dramatic tension about the outcome of ‘the roll’. It was danced in unison to fast instrumental music and it looked really great all together.
The next dance was using text taken from the book. In the board game there were lots of short riddles, or poetic verse, surrounding the throw of the dice and it’s consequence. We split the class into groups of 5 children, and they each picked out two pieces of text each. They then created short phrases of dance based on them. It was really fun to see their interpretation of the text and how they translated that into movement, and they got really into it.
Some examples of the text:
‘At night they fly, you’d better run, these wing’d things are not much fun’
‘A tiny bite can make you itch, make you sneeze, make you twitch’
‘This will not be an easy mission, monkeys slow the expedition’
‘His fangs are sharp, he likes your taste, your party better move, poste haste’
‘A locked Jumanji hadn’t been broken, you will step back more than your token’
Near the end of the day we put the whole dance together and practised it loads. The end performance went really well and the parents loved it. It’s so nice to be able to do a performance at the end of the day, as the children get such a sense of achievement and pride in what they have created, so it’s great when they can show it to others.
The style of dance we did is called Contemporary dance, which is really expressive. Creative dance workshops can be based on any theme or topic, or just be abstract, so it’s the perfect style of dance to use. You can learn more about Contemporary dance here.
We loved Jumanji as a theme for the workshops, and we hope we have given you have some new ideas to create your own dances based on books or board games!