Dance Teaching Ideas, guest writer, Mia Hollingworth, outlines practical dance ideas for Early Childhood learning. In this article she combines the use of Laban movement with Chakras to develop creative movement experiences that connect children with their own bodies.
Creative dance for Wellbeing
by Mia Hollingworth
There are many approaches to creative dance and movement for young children. This article outlines a foundational understanding of the Chakra concept and Laban framework. It can be a great launching pad to creating a meaningful, colourful expression of movement (energy) in any early childhood learning environment.
Basic overview of the seven-chakras
It’s important to note that there is more than one Chakra system in the original tradition. In this article I will take a very basic adaptation from a modern-western understanding of its teachings.
Chakra, meaning ‘wheel’ in Sanskrit, is an ancient yogic tradition and is a complex network of energy channels. These are developmentally mapped vertically through the body.
It is believed that the spinning motion of these wheels of colour draw vital energy into our being creating well-being. From my experience children are very open and receptive to energy.
Facilitating Chakra awareness can enhance internal awareness of how one thinks and feels, building trust in ones’ own intuition, enabling independence, and giving language to communicate these.
Why is the Laban Framework important for creative dance?
In a movement-framework approach, dance helps students learn how to dance rather than regurgitating teacher devised choreography or just remembering a series of steps. With the Laban framework, you could use a variety of combinations from each of the concepts. These guide children to explore new ways of moving as well as manipulate known ways of moving.
4 Organising Concepts
Concept of Space – includes using general and personal space, directions, pathways and levels.
Concept of Effort – might include exploring weight, time and or flow of movement.
Concept of Relationship – body parts to one another, the dancer’s position to others and responding accurately to a variety of rhythms and sounds.
Concept of Body – locomotor /non-locomotor and isolating and or combing different body parts.
Dance Teaching Idea
The Chakras, Laban framework and recommended music will all serve to guide the attention of the children into their own bodily-kinaesthetic sensations. Through the use of creative movement, the aim is to open and balance these energy channels.
Each Chakra exploration can last the length of one song (approximately 3-5 minutes). However, if you sense the children have found flow in one of the specific Chakras, allow them to continue until you intuit the need to move on to the next.
You could take mental notes of this which can make for interesting discussion after the lesson.
Here are some questions to pose to the children during or post lesson, to keep then on task with their thinking body.
Where in the body do you start the movement?
1. How does movement travel through your body?
2. Where does it come out through your body?
3. Where do you send it in space?
4. How is the body connected?
The Creative Dance Activity
Approximately 40-minute lesson with the possibility of an extension writing/drawing task.
- Location: Base of spine, in tailbone area.
- Colour: Red
- Element: Earth
Locate the Chakra on the physical body by tapping the area with your fingers to enliven it – say the colour whilst doing this.
Think grounding / earthing movement that connects the lower body specifically the feet and legs to the element earth
Laban model – think: feet, weight, firm, press, push, stomp, heavy.
Music recommendations – Electronic music with lots of drums and beats or Didgeridoo sounds.
- Location: Lower abdomen, about 2 inches below the navel
- Colour: Orange
- Element: Water
On the physical body, tap the area with your fingers to enliven it – say the colour whilst doing this.
Initiate movement from the hips/pelvis in all directions. Imagine you have a tail and you are swinging and swaying and splashing that tail in the element water.
Laban model – think: Flow, hips, swinging, swaying, circling, rotating.
Music recommendations – Jazz, soul and Latin: anything that makes your hips move.
Solar Plexus Chakra
- Location: Upper abdomen in the stomach area.
- Colour: Yellow
- Element: Fire
Begin by tapping the area with your fingers to enliven it – say the colour whilst doing this.
The movements that go with it come from the martial arts: punch, kick and other twisting and rotations of the trunk. The energy of movement initiates from your centre.
Laban model – think: Direct, force, slash, wring, kick and twist.
Music recommendations – Hip-hop, rap, rock, rebellious / protest music.
- Location: Centre of chest, just above the heart.
- Colour: Green
- Element: Air
Again, locate the Chakra on the physical body by tapping the area with your fingers to enliven it – say the colour whilst doing this.
Initiate the movement from an open heart. The arms and hands are the expression of the heart so use them to guide movement outwards from the body.
Laban model – think: Hands, float, flick, light and dab.
Music recommendations – Melodious songs, love songs, often in minor because that makes the feeling go to the heart.
- Location: Throat
- Colour: Light Blue/Turquoise
- Element: Sound/Music
First, locate the Chakra on the physical body by feeling the breath flow in through the nose, past the back of the throat and down into the lungs – say the colour whilst doing this.
Take this big breath in and with your next out-breath allow your whole body to respond. Shake everything loose and let the noise / sounds come out of you.
Laban model – think: Free, loose, shake and vibrate.
Music recommendations – Songs that you know and you can sing along to. Let your voice be heard!
- Location: Forehead between the eyes
- Colour: Dark Blue/Purple
- Element: Light
Guided movement – First, locate the Chakra on the physical body. Tap the area with your hand to enliven it – say the colour whilst doing this.
Now move your head and neck in all directions. Did you know the face has 42 muscles? Play with looking inward and outward, scrunch it up, smile and frown. Don’t forget to stick out your tongue.
Laban model – think: Non-locomotor, face, stretch, contort, flexible and sustained.
Music recommendations – Fusion world music from different regions / languages of the world.
- Location: The very top of the head.
- Colour: Violet/White
- Element: Divine Consciousness
Finally,tap the area of the Chakra with your fingers to enliven it – say the colour whilst doing this.
Now become aware of all the Chakra points and feel the energy move up the spine from the sacral Chakra at the tail bone, to the crown Chakra and out the top off the head.
Laban model – think: Moving from all the Chakra points in the body, reaching out into all directions in space with all the body parts.
Music recommendations – Spiritual music, mantras, singing bowls, meditation music, classical music.
Come to together as a group to create community. Form a circle by holding hands and take three big deep breathes together like one whole living organism.
Depending on age and how big the group is, you could finish by going around the circle and have each child recall vocabulary from the activity. It could be the name of a Chakra, its associated colour, or element and, or dance vocabulary in the form of verbs and adverbs.
There are so many creative ways you can incorporate more into these Chakra and creative movement expressions. Some examples include; creating ritual in setting up the space before the commencement of the lesson, include humming to the corresponding Chakra musical tone, bringing in the use of colour through props and incorporating a mindfulness guided meditation to finish.
Dance Teaching Ideas thanks Mia Hollingworth, artist, dance educator and teacher, for her wonderful contribution to our collective teaching knowledge. For more ideas about teaching creative movement in your Early Childhood classes see the article Creative Dance Lesson Plans for Kindergarten.