We all know the importance of warming our students up before dance class, but it can be so boring. So let’s explore some fun dance warm ups that will start your classes in a fun way and get your students bodies warmed up at the same time.
What Are Dance Warm Ups?
Warm up exercises are used to prepare your body for any physical activity, like dancing, jogging, or even taking a walk.
When you warm up, the aim is to elevate your body temperature and your heart rate, which keeps your muscles, ligaments, and joints loose, thus lowering your chances of injury or strain.
Warm-ups are essential for reducing injury risks, muscle soreness, increasing agility, and increasing blood flow.
Here are some fun dance warm ups you can try and they work well especially on the younger dancers.
What Types Of Movements Are Good To Incorporate Into A Dance Warm Up?
Whether you’re a ballet dancer or a hip hop dancer, a proper warm-up will combine dynamic exercises with static stretches. Here are some great movements to incorporate into your fun dance warm ups below:
- Head and Shoulder Rolls – This will help to lower the risk of neck and back injuries.
- Jumping Jacks – 20 is a good number to do here.
- Leg Swings – Swing your legs to the front of the room and then the back about ten times with each leg. You can bend a little for the warmup.
- Heel Raises – These make you stronger as well and they should be repeated at least ten times.
- Lunges or Squats – These are also great for getting those hips warm and strengthening and warming those leg muscles. A minimum of ten on each side should do it. Vary these each time.
- Hip Swings – Moving your hips from left to right, or in circles is great to get those hips warmed.
- Breathing Exercises – These are very beneficial for dancers and teach them to breath so the rib cage expands sideways.
- Choreography – Once body is warmer, you can also do movements that you will be working on that day and this will get the muscles ready and activated for the movements in question.
Fun Dance Warm Ups
If you like your children to do a stretch at the beginning of the lesson, try making a story of it.
I tell them to sit in a straddle and the imagine they are the tall castle. The king and queen like to walk across the drawbridge and the fingers walk down the legs until they touch their feet and back up again. Sometime they like to take a swim and they jump off and swim way out in front of you. Let them stretch forward with flat backs. You can also do this with legs together telling them to keep the drawbridge (knees) straight or the king and queen will fall off.
Little ones can practise their breathing skills by blowing up balloons or blowing kisses.
Snowball attack works well for students that can already read. You will need some white paper in a size of your choice.
Write some fun dance warm up movements on each piece of paper and screw it up into a ball. It could be as simple as move your arms round in circles, or run on the spot with your knees lifted high.
You could also have your students write some down, but this takes time out of the class, so I find it easier to go with ready made ‘snowballs.’
Let the students throw the snow balls at each other and once the music stops they need to pick up the nearest ‘snowball’ and do what it says on the paper. Then you can start the music again and they can scrunch them into snowballs again to throw at each other. Repeat this a few times and they will have warmed up in a fun way.
You could take it a step further and let them perform the steps on the paper to music e.g step close step point.
Another fun idea if the students write on their own snow balls, is that the dancer has to guess who’s ball she has.
There are many variations you can do with this game so have fun with it.
This is a pairs activity that is great for any age group.
Get them into partners and let the one partner sculpt the other partners body into a shape.
Once they have finished the class can run or walk on their toes through the art gallery to view the sculptures. They then reverse roles and repeat the process. The sculptures are warming up by holding their bodies dead still in a pose, while their partners are warming up by walking or running through them.
You could take this idea further as it is a great opportunity to discuss curved and angular shapes, asymmetry and symmetry, levels and use of space.
You could also ask your ‘sculptors’ to do low level sculptures or sculptures with curved shapes for more of a challenge.
Red Light Green Light
This is one of those simple but high energy fun dance warmups that everyone enjoys. This is great for hip hop class.
The music to use here is called Red Light Green Light by Duke Dumont and Shaun Ross.
For the younger ones the music tells you what to do, but if you do this activity with older students you could use the elements of dance. Describe to them what shapes you want on the red light movements eg. low, angular, round, etc.
Meet Me In The Middle
Meet me in the middle can be made more difficult for the older children.
Start by making two lines on opposite ends of the room. Choose two children from each line to meet in the middle by performing a travelling step towards each other and joining two body parts that aren’t your hands or your feet before dancing back to your place.
You could also let the two in front go first then run to the end of the line when they are finished.
You could make it more complex by adding different levels and more difficult steps that they need to use to get to the middle.
Please feel free to comment below if you have any other ideas for fun dance warm ups that the children will enjoy.