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 Post subject: Teaching YOUNG BOYS: suggestions? Experiences?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:12 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 3:06 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Atlanta
Hi, everyone -

We're relative newbies here - we've done a couple posts, but never properly introduced ourselved (apologies!) - thank you, and for all your support for Whitney Sue earlier in the year.

Background: I'm a teacher and choreographer based in Atlanta. I trained in Houston and at Atlanta Ballet, and danced with Atlanta and Charleston Ballet. I graduated Cum Laude from HSPVA in Houston and majored in Dance Pedagogy at OU. I teach very-full-time and choreograph, mostly for SERBA companies - but I set a piece on the professional Georgia Ballet this spring. My husband danced years ago - training with Ann Brodie at Columbia City Ballet, and danced with Columbia City Ballet, Indianapolis Ballet and briefly with Atlanta Ballet and pick-up companies in NY (he had an injury that stopped his career at 21).

We're looking forward to getting to know the other dance people here - the forums are great, and you all have been wonderfully supportive this year (thanks again). It's wonderful to be able to communicate so easily with dancers from all over the rest of the country and world.

Now, the issue -

I have about ten years teaching experience – six of that full time (30+ classes per week), for students ranging from creative movement (little ones) through pre-professional and adults; ballet/pointe, modern dance and jazz.

The most surprising challenge in learning to become a good teacher was all the new tools I needed to learn for working effectively with the little ones – both the physical training tools and the psychology. After the first year or two with the young girls, I felt I had a pretty good handle on pacing, and depth and breadth of materials needed to keep them learning and sufficiently entertained to not lose their engagement.

This last year, I inherited a class of all little-boys and I got to feel like a beginner all over again. I am now very empathetic with mothers of young boys who look at mothers of young girls and laugh… Mars and Venus may not be sufficient to describe the differences. I am getting ready to go on a book hunt for tips for educators of young boys (we’re talking 2 to 6 years old).

I would greatly appreciate any helpful suggestions or experiences anyone might be willing to share.

Thanks so much.

Wishing everyone a great week -


~ Kristy Nilsson

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“Dancing is the world’s favorite metaphor.” ~ © Kristy Nilsson

Kristy Nilsson & Scott Nilsson
http://2nilssons.com
http://myspace.com/2nilssons


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 3:11 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 655
Location: Seattle, WA. USA
A couple of suggestions come to mind. One is, if at all possible, to try to separate out the boys into their own classes by age -- not even level at this point. The difference betweeen a two year old and a six year old is enormous! And, I've found that if you can batch them by age, then the perfect length of class is suggested by their ages: 3, 30 minutes; 4, 40 minutes; 5, 50 minutes; and 6, 60 minutes.

Keep the class moving. You can still alternate active and passive things like you might do for your regular CM classes, but keep it faster paced. Perhaps "heavier" on the active stuff.

Boys love jumping and there are many things you can do: Have them run and jump over mats (you can make this progressively more difficult by insisting they all land on the right leg, or that they hold their arms in a position while leaping, then add that they land with no or little noise, etc.); jump over and run/crawl through boxes; jump over YOU (while you're a lying on the floor; jump over each other. Slides (galops) are fun too.

If you have a portable barre, put it parallel to the one afixed to the wall so you get a set of parallel barres going. Have them push themselves up into a sous-sus position. Insist they get still and have their feet stretched. Add on a sharp open/close of their feet (entrechat), with an emphasis on the opening the legs to the side. Stays in between each one. As they get stronger you can add more beats. Lastly you can have them bring their feet up to the front, so their bodies are making an "L" shape. Boys LOVE this exercise.

Wall push-ups are good for boys, in addition to sit-ups, curl-ups, and regular push-ups.

You can tap ("re-direct") all their wonderful energy and make it a fun and positive experience -- for them and for you. Best wishes! :wink:

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Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 8:01 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 3:06 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Atlanta
Thank you so much, Dean - you had wonderful suggestions. I can incorporate both - as these are combo classes (ballet/gymnastics). I've done some of these things with my girls, but I was utterly unprepared for the energy level and attention span of the boys! Thanks so much for all of your suggestions - I look forward to using all of them next week and during the months ahead. I appreciate you taking the time.

Thanks again!

Kristy

_________________
“Dancing is the world’s favorite metaphor.” ~ © Kristy Nilsson

Kristy Nilsson & Scott Nilsson
http://2nilssons.com
http://myspace.com/2nilssons


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 2:52 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 3:06 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Atlanta
Hi, Dean et al!

I so understand the mothers of little boys who laugh at mothers of all-girls, as if to say: "you have no clue..." A couple months ago, after several months with the boys – my husband and I were standing watching a small group of little boys in Mexico: they had just discovered that they could run halfway down a handicapped access ramp before hurling themselves into a sliding belly flop onto the concrete to slide a few feet before gleefully returning for another go at it... We stood watching, laughing, and marveling at the enormous difference between these boys and the nearby clusters of little girls with their families.

Dean: with four+ months in application, your advice has been very helpful. The age/duration advice has proven as true with the boys as the girls – and changing tempo and content, with a really high-energy first ten minutes have all definitely helped. The strength and men’s exercises as well as the ballet movements have also worked well.

While I've worked with girls from creative movement age through pre-pro and adults, almost all my prior experience with boys and men were teen and older – so I had had very few of these challenges; the little boys are just so very different from the little girls.

Thank you again so much for your advice and council – and your well-wishes: it has been very much appreciated, and a wonderful experience.

Wishing you a wonderful spring -


Kristy Nilsson / Atlanta

_________________
“Dancing is the world’s favorite metaphor.” ~ © Kristy Nilsson

Kristy Nilsson & Scott Nilsson
http://2nilssons.com
http://myspace.com/2nilssons


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