We're entering recital zone at the studio where the push to learn choreography and perfect performance becomes the first priority. I need a quick warm-up that brings some heat to the body while encouraging my dancers to focus. This warm-up was first introduced to me when I was a student at Hampshire College by a dance diva named Cathy Nicoli. She is a woman who breathes power and heart and when I found myself bouncing around in a circle with her and my classmates, I couldn't help but feel wired and inspired. I think you and your students will love this mini-warm-up.
Start in a circle with all of your students and encourage your students to think about any energy, thoughts, experiences that they want to let go of or push out of their bodies before you begin dancing. Bring those thoughts to the forefront so you can easily release them out of your body. Turn on some music with a good, energizing beat (or better yet, let the musician who accompanies you set the tone). Everyone starts prancing in place, shifting their weight from foot to foot with a little jump. With your students, use your arms to push eight times towards the ground, then eight on the low diagonal in front of you. Continue with pushes into the center of the circle, the high diagonal in front of you, overhead, high diagonal to the sides, directly to your sides, low side diagonals, and back to the floor.
Stop. Take a deep breath while reaching your arms out the sides and overhead. Breathe out while letting your arms fall in front of you. Try with long and short breaths.
Next encourage your students to think about the energy they want to bring to their dance experience. What do they want to work on? What feelings are they trying to cultivate? Repeat the prancing, but this time, instead of pushing away from your bodies, have everyone pull the energy towards their bodies from each direction. Repeat the deep breaths to finish. Feel engaged.
I use this as a personal warm-up as well as a warm-up for classroom-based work. It can be done in a small space, but still lets the movers feel expansive.
Happy winter friends.