What Are Students Learning in a Dance Daze® Creative Movement Class?

Saumirah McWoodson, dance educator, researcher, podcaster, blogger, former classroom teacher, and the founder of Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools, has been developing the Dance Daze® Creative Movement curriculum for over 10 years. Often the most popular studio-based class that is offered by Dance Daze, Inc. in each seasonal session, this class is a great introduction to dance for children between the ages of 2 and 4 years who are ready for a structured, high-energy experience and to move and grove while their parents watch from the sidelines. (For children who prefer dancing with their parents, we recommend Dance Daze® Dance With Me.)

In this class, students are introduced to the basics of dance composition and movement analysis, expression through movement, identifying shared and personal space, and so much more. We use fun, colorful props in every single Dance Daze® Creative Movement class, which we believe ads to the understanding and gives a deeper opportunity for exploration during that portion of the class.

We are active in this class, and we try to keep students moving as much as possible with very little downtime, as we discover different rhythms and develop our love for movement while listening to music from different time periods and from various cultures and genres.

If you think your child would have a blast in a Dance Daze® Creative Movement, sign them up today at DanceDaze.org.

Free Creative Movement Playlists for Dance Teachers and Studio Owners

Dance Daze® Creative Movement has been one of my favorite classes to teach for a long time. (I also absolutely love teaching Dance Daze® Combo Class, classical ballet, and tap classes.)

When I was first growing Dance Daze® classes, the Creative Movement classes were the first ones to fill up. Today, I still have students enrolled for Dance Daze® Creative Movement and paid-in-full for an entire session (10 weeks of class) and sometimes even an entire year (30 classes and 6 performance opportunities spread out in seasonal sessions over 10 months) for months in advance!

Because Dance Daze® Creative Movement classes filled so quickly, and because it was an absolute blast for me to invest right back into this program, I dove into creating playlists, purchasing props, and writing detailed lesson plans for Dance Daze® Creative Movement classes right away.

If you are also starting to purchase props for your growing dance business, you may be interested in my video that went out last week for people who are subscribed to my email list: Two Tips: Episode #10. In this video, in just 2 minutes, I tell you exactly how I decided which props to purchase and how many props I purchased when I was just starting out. I also give you approximate numbers for how many props I have now and why. Also, for all of you with mobile dance businesses, in Two Tips: Episode #5, I tell you some of my favorite bags that I use to transport my dance props and how I use this to market my classes on the go!

Now that I’m working to help early career dance educators and new studio owners start, streamline, and grow their dance education businesses through my platform at DanceEdStartup.com, I am giving away some of the earliest playlists I created for Dance Daze® Creative Movement classes for FREE. You can grab each of them when you go to DanceEdStartup.com/Freebies.

I know that most new dance studios grow the fastest with their youngest students, in the same way that my dance education programs have grown. Because I want to support you in the best way possible, in next week’s blog, I’ll be providing a freebie that will tell you my absolute favorite props that me and my teachers use for Dance Daze® Creative Movement classes. I have a few of my favorites listed in the Dance Daze, Inc. Amazon Shop, but I’m going to provide the individual product links and personal descriptions telling you exactly how I use the props in class in the freebie that I’ll create for next week’s blog!

In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that you’ll now get an offer for 25% to 50% off all PAID products at DanceEdStartup.com whenever you download a FREEBIE! So if you wanted to grab some Dance Daze® Creative Movement and Dance Daze® Combo Class music playlists, they’re all 50% off when you download all of the free music playlists!

And yes, of course I’m entirely aware that you can get dozens of free playlists online almost anywhere. So why would you pay anything at all for a playlist?

I’ll be honest: I’m pretty crazy about my dance classes. I’m also pretty crazy about the music that’s used for Dance Daze® classes. (Really. Ask ANYONE who has taught classes for Dance Daze, Inc. or Dance Daze in Schools. They will tell you that THE MUSIC MATTERS.)

Dance Daze® music playlists aren’t just thrown together on Spotify and posted in random Facebook groups. These playlists aren’t swiped from my less experienced dance teachers and marked as my own. No way.

I have personally curated each playlist. I listen to every single song on the playlist, word-for-word (even if that means reading the lyrics as I listen so I know what is being said). Each playlist that is posted on DanceEdStartup.com has been tried, tested, and parent/dance teacher/child approved. And, if there are songs that I personally think won’t work well with the playlist, I’ll delete those songs before I make the playlist available for purchase because I don’t want you to have to do any major editing after you get a Dance Daze® music playlist!

Additionally, over the next 8 weeks, I’ll be posting Dance Daze® Lesson Plans and new playlists that match the lesson plans over at DanceEdStartup.com! I’m still working on developing the layout I’ll use, but I essentially want dance teachers to be able to know exactly what movements or activities we would do in a Dance Daze® class for each song.

I guess you could say I’ll be dripping out content for Dance Daze® over the next several weeks and months. But, honestly, I see it as more than that.

I know there are lots of programs out there where you can purchase curriculum. I know there are tons of places where you can get free song recommendations or grab entire, already-created playlists. I know you can even learn how to create your own curriculum for your dance studio and mobile dance business by participating in some other programs out there. That’s not what I want to give you.

At DanceEdStartup.com, I want to help you START, STREAMLINE, and GROW a dance business. I also want to provide tools that help you get to teaching as quickly as possible. I have no intentions of dragging things out and creating lesson plans that are complicated to look at or take time “understand” before implementation. It is my hope that DanceEdStartup.com products will be simple for the newest dance teacher and the most experienced dance teacher to use. Our products are GRAB-AND-GO.

Why? Because if you’re half as busy as me, I know you do not have the time to read 50 pages explaining how to teach a tendu to a 3 year old. I know that if you find an early career dance teacher who has the heart, energy, and genuine desire to teach in your dance program, you likely don’t have the time to train them for months just to teach a 45-minute class once a week. You want to support your staff and grow your program and keep things SIMPLE.

So thats’ what I’m all about and that’s what I hope you’ll get with all the freebies and paid products you’ll find at DanceEdStartup.com.

So what now? Well, you can start by heading over to DanceEdStartup.com/freebies and downloading the free playlists if you haven’t already! Then, grab some paid playlists for 50% off so that you can have even more tools to run your program successfully.

And, again, over the next 8 weeks, be on the lookout for lesson plans and new playlists from me that you can download and use in your dance program the same day.

The Happy Dance Podcast: Episode #1

Read the podcast transcript below or click HERE to download the PDF!

Hi there! My name is Saumirah McWoodson, founder and CEO of Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools and dance education researcher and business consultant. And you are listening to The Happy Dance Podcast. Let’s dance!

Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to The Happy Dance Podcast! This is my very first podcast ever, so it’s going to be short and sweet and I’m really just gonna be using this one as a place-holder and to make sure that I can actually successfully publish a podcast.

But, before we dive in–and we’re really gonna dive in next week, again, after I know that I can actually do this–I want to introduce myself really quickly. So, my name is Saumirah McWoodson. I’m the founder and CEO of two dance organizations. One is called Dance Daze, Inc. and the other is Dance Daze in Schools. And essentially, with Dance Daze, Inc., we provide studio classes in the Greater Sacramento Area in California, and then with Dance Daze in Schools we provide programs for kids at elementary schools also in the same area. With Dance Daze in Schools, I’m really proud that I have been able to offer programs at schools in New York City, in Washington, D.C., and at a variety of schools in the San Francisco Bay Area as well. But currently, both Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools are based in the Sacramento, California area. I also recently started a dance education consulting business, and I’m doing that at DanceEdStartup.com. So that’s pretty much what’s keeping me busy.

As far as my educational background, I am a current doctoral student at the University of the Pacific, and I’m researching dance educator training and preparation in the United States and also long-term job opportunities for dance educators in the United States. So that’s what I’m working on for the purposes of my dissertation. Then, I’m a Pacific alumna a couple of times. So I have my Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of the Pacific and also my Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of the Pacific, and I also have a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Pacific. I love that school, apparently. And I taught elementary school for six years. So I’ve taught mainly second grade. But I most recently taught kindergarten, and then several years ago I taught, I co-taught first grade as well. So that’s . . . those are the basics about me, my educational background . . . Let’s see . . . I’m also an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher in Primary through Level 5 of the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum. And I am a proud and heavily involved dog mom of two rescues. They’re both terrier mixes, named Henry and Benji.

And I’m sure I will let you in on tons of other little tidbits about my life in future episodes. But basically, this podcast is going to focus on everything related to dance, education, and cultivating a life of happiness.

So, thank you for listening to my very first episode! And I hope to catch you again very soon! And if you want to follow me online or learn more about me, you can go to DanceEdStartup.com–thats’ my website for my digital course. You can also find my blog at DanceDaze.org/Blog. I’ll be posting a new blog every Monday with a freebie inside of every blog, so be sure to check that out. And those freebies are going to be of interest to dance educators, early career dance educators, or people running studios that want to give quick and easy products to their newer dance educators. You can find me on Instagram @DanceDazeInc–so that’s d-a-n-c-e-d-a-z-e-i-n-c. There’s also an Instagram for Dance Daze in Schools. It’s just @DanceDazeInSchools. And then my personal Instagram is MissMcWoodson, @MissMcWoodson. So I don’t think I pronounce my name the way that it’s spelled, but it’s @-m-i-s-s my last name is m-c-w-o-o-d-s-o-n.

So I think those are enough Internet links to find me for now. I spend a lot of time online, so I have a lot of ats, a lot of avatars, a lot of urls. Thanks again for listening, and I hope to catch you next week! Bye!

The Importance of Music in a Dance Class

Though I have occasionally had a specific movement or feeling in my head around which I wanted to create a piece of choreography, I typically choose the music for my dance classes before I plan the rest of the class. The music is my foundation, my core, my bass. This is because I believe that the music used in a dance class lays the foundation for the energy, atmosphere, and overall experience of each class.

I’ve always been a lover of music, though. As I child, I used to visualize movements to songs while riding shotgun in the car with my mom, coming back from Pier 39 on a Friday night. I remember that it was almost as if I could envision my future through music and movement. I wasn’t exactly choreographing in my head, but I would see movements that matched the songs we used to sing at the top of our lungs. And I felt safe and comforted. I felt hope and joy.

I also studied music as a child–piano lessons for several years, a youth vocal ensemble (which I think caused me to realize that singing was not a particular talent of mine) . . . . We sang a lot in my private elementary schools as well. I’ve said before that when I picture my childhood, I think of sunshine and music. [Insert your eye roll here.] (Sorry, not sorry. My childhood was awesome.)

In college, I completed about 5 courses in music (including Physics of Music, Psychology of Music, and Ethnomusicology while studying abroad in Marburg, Germany).

With that for my background in music, I think I always assumed that most people were the same way. I thought that most people who grew up dancing would feel a similar connection to music and its power to define a dance class or to make or break a movement experience. After working with many dance teachers over the years now, I have come to realize that this is simply not common. Some beginning dance teachers simply don’t seem to have the same connection to music that I’d always previously assumed was innate for those of us who call ourselves dancers. (Side note: The topic of identifying as a dancer vs. as a dance educator will be a future blog post. It’s a thing.)

With that said, I want to make it clear that I believe that dance is still dance, even if we are moving in silence. I understand and respect the rhythm of life and the melodies and beats that are still present, even when no bow brushes strings and when no stick strikes a snare.

However, I’m still all about the music! I’m sure I’ll have to write more about this later, but for now I want to stand united with those who use music as the driving force for their dance classes. I also want to tell you that if you’re looking for some help with choosing music for your dance classes, I’m working on a little something that you might find useful.

More to come!

Stay tuned.

Dance Daze Halloween 2011

We had so much fun in our classes yesterday! In addition to giving away FREE pumpkins to each student who attended class, we also played lots of fun games in our Creative Movement class, including “Pass the Pumpkin” and “Magic Rope”! It was our first time trying those games, and they were a hit!

To see more photos from yesterday’s classes, please visit the Dance Daze Facebook Page or find our photos on our new Flickr page !

PS: Want to see what we did for Halloween LAST YEAR??? Read the Dance Daze Halloween blog post from October 2010!

Happy Halloween!