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Brain dancing to greatness!

What is a brain dance?

A brain dance is an activity that warms up the brain (and the body) for connected, ready to go, switched on learning and dancing. It is a term and concept created by Anne Green Gilbert a very well known dance educator and researcher. I will direct you to her page for some awesome info straight about Brain Dance from the horses mouth:

A brain dance takes the dancer through a series of fundamental movement patterns that we developed through as infants. To retrace the patterning in the correct order before each dance class integrates the brain and body in a powerful way, setting up our dancers for mental and physical success. T

The order is breath, tactile, core-distal, head-tail, upper-lower, body side, cross lateral, vestibular.

The brain dance is compatible with dance classes in every setting, suits every age group, and can even be used as a primo movement break or start to the day in the school setting. There are lots of dance programmes utilizing this tool and we are one of them.

How do we use the brain dance in our classes:

It has been a learning journey for us! I learned about this technique while doing my masters research 5 years ago, and seeing it in action by some of the educators here in Aotearoa who I observed. I had always choreographed a fun aerobic warm up dance and really wanted to keep that, but now needed to fit in a brain dance? Over time we have gotten creative and brain dance will pop up integrated into our warm up dance (moving through the patterns amongst aerobic full body actions) or it may be a narrative exploration before or straight after warm up dance with a fun theme like under the sea, or it might be combined with stretch or technique as an exercise straight after warm up. The great thing about this is that it can be included in any context, and can be worked into any style, age or ability group. One aha moment I had recently was that barre in itself can reflect the patterns! It has been a joy to teach and watch Miss Amy create engaging brain dances to her students as well.

Because we require so much of our dancers intellectually in our classes (one mum once said to me that in comparison to her child's past studio that our classes really challenge her child's critical thinking) we are super keen to keep brain dance as a part of class. We are committed to becoming better practitioners of brain dance and work it into our dancers day so that it can support their praxis, choreography, executive functioning, etc. So next time you see us taking deep breaths or tap tap tap the beat up our body you will know it's brain dance time!


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