As a child I absolutely loved learning Maypole dancing at school ! It ticked all the boxes for me ! it was a combination of skipping around , having fun , plus the advantage that I got to hold Micheal Endiciotts hand as we skipped around together !!.
Forward on 30 years , skipping around a decorated Pole of ribbons and holding a boys hand is probably not every Childs idea of fun.. but with a little tactical teaching Maypole Dancing is a great way to teach Dance in a different way .
So why is MayPole Dancing so great ?
MayPole Dancing is essentially skipping and timing . Skipping is the fundamental basis of movement for running , dribbling with a ball , hopping ,jumping and leaping . Skipping is a combination of weight transfer , forward motion and propulsion which centrally is the actions required for most sporting actions . So if your teaching Boys who are not convinced with MayPole dancing then talking to them about the qualities of movement to help them with their sports , may be your anchor to engage them !
For children who are interested in Mathematics and patterns ,then MayPole Dancing is right up their street . Maypole dances are based upon 3 or 4 continuos actions , creating a repeated pattern . To engage these children incorporate questions based on how many times they travel around the MayPole in a clockwise direction , or how many times does the Red ribbon pass over the Yellow .
To start with go back to basics practice skipping .
Skipping in time with each other as well as a beat of music
Skipping keeping an equal distance between each other
Skipping in a circle and pacing the skip steps , i.e. the children should be able to calculate how many skips it takes to complete the Maypole circle and keep that number of skips to an average pace
Create Skipping circuits ie and formations . Have teams of children skipping across and between each other but at no time do the children collide with each other . If they are maintaining consistent timing then the children should be able to cross between each other successfully .
Another useful activity to do with skipping is discussing heart rate Skipping is an aerobic exercise which means the heart rate increases quickly , get the children to discuss Pulse rates and finding their Pulses . Discuss how skipping is an integral part of Boxing and boxers training . Fast feet footwork helps boxers to move efficiently around the boxing ring and also helps them to achieve the required level of aerobic fitness for their sport .
If you don’t have a MayPole it is possible just to use Ribbons and scarfs . Ribbons and scarfs are a great movement tool especially for younger years Reception , YR1/2 . Allow the children to create movements with the ribbons , because of the nature of the material i.e. light & flowing this will dictate the movement style that children will be able to maneuverer around in
Here are some of the most simple Maypole Dances.
The Circle Dance
This is the most basic of all the dances. Simply have everyone skip around the maypole. When it gets almost all the way wrapped around, skip the other way to untwist it. This is great to do at the beginning so everyone learns to skip to the beat and and the end, so you can store the pole twisted (so the ribbons don’t get tangled).
The Barber’s Pole
The Green dancers move to the the inside of the circle. The Blue dancers circle around clockwise until they reach their starting positions usually a count of 8 with the music (see diagram). Once they reach their starting positions, they stop move in sightly and the Green dancers move out slightly . The Green dancers then circle counterclockwise. this continues until it gets difficult to continue and then repeat it the opposite way.
The Spider’s Web
There are a few different ways to do the Spiders web.. Have the Blue dancers take one step forwards and stand stationary with their ribbons taut. Green dancers pass behind the 1st blue dancer , then step backwards in front of the blue dancer and then back around , behind , moving forwards on to the next Blue dancer , repeating the exactly same movement . blue dancer. After it gets difficult, have them unwind and let the Blue dancers try it, the opposite direction.
This is one of the most difficult dances but make a beautiful braid on the pole Partners start back too back .The blue dancers go clockwise, and the Green dancers go counterclockwise. They weave in and out of each other. Be sure everyone is going the same pace and each dancer takes a turn going over or under the streamer depending on the person they meet.
Once the ribbons have all been wound, reverse and go the opposite direction, until the ribbon is unwound.
More Ideas for Maypole Dancing
Do the traditional Dances to traditional music and then change the music . My kids thought it was hilarious when we May poled to Gangham style !.
Could you choreograph your own Maypole Dance routine ? .
Could you have dancers jump over each other ?
Could you have Dancers swap around or in and out of the dance
LoomBands and MayPole Dancing
Loom bands are really like a huge Maypole ! The same principals of Maypole dancing are used in Loom band making . Tension of the ribbons , timing and placement , if one bit is placed wrong the entire pattern is lost
Loom bands like Dance can be done by anyone and seem to be enjoyed by both boys and girls .
So how about creating a Loom Band Dance ?
1. Create patterns of colours with material , or ribbons from a May Pole the patterns must include over, under and around each other intertwining the material around each other .
2. Get the children to create links or chains connecting with arms only, one leg one arm , back to back so as to create a weave of body parts .
3. Give each child a colour to wear ie Red bibs , Blue bibs etc . Each colour has a command ie Blues have to hold a Red Left hand . Reds have to hold the Right ankle of Blues . Yellow Bibs have to stand in between Reds and Blues . The different colour commands will create patterns and levels. Colour , command , movement .
Happy May Pole Dancing
Caroline Dancelady www.thedancelady.com