Managing Space in Dance
Dance can occur almost anywhere
How much space?
The area does not need to be huge. As a guide, students should be at least an arm’s length away from one another. A quick way to measure this is to choose your tallest student and ask them to wave their arms around them without connecting with anything. You will probably find that they will use a circular area of about 1.5 metres. The area of open space that you will need then depends on whether you wish students to be moving all at once, to move into and out of the space in groups or to dance as individuals. You may need an assembly area off to the side if students are moving in and out of the space. You might consider mounting some mirrors on the walls, but this level of bespoke detail is certainly not essential.
Where do I find space?
In selecting your dance space, simply take a walk around your school as a first step. Consider sporting areas, ovals, basketball courts or lunchtime eating areas. Consider your own classroom. If there are rooms in your school that are standing idle, then claim them. Don’t restrict yourself to traditional performance spaces such as assembly halls, but if they are standing idle, then use them. Many teachers look at their own crowded classroom and think that dance won’t fit, but there may be open areas nearby around the school, and classrooms can be quickly altered. There may even be some parks or community halls just around the corner from the school that might work well as your dance space.
Using my own classroom
If you are using your own classroom, then it will probably need to be transformed to provide you with some open area. Practising simple routines with your students to stack furniture around the walls, or out the door, can afford you enough space quite quickly, and the exercise of shifting furniture can energise the class.
Tailoring an area for use as a dance space
Some teachers have been fortunate to find undeveloped areas in their school grounds or within school buildings. Sometimes these areas have been languishing as unused areas of the school. These types of spaces can be ideal to adopt as performance and/or rehearsal spaces for your dance activity. You might be able to create a project involving the whole class to clean the area up and to establish it as a space for your use.
Safety is the key here: make sure there are no protruding furnishings and that any lifting is managed carefully. Ensure that the room has adequate ventilation for physical activity. This may be simply a matter of opening doors and windows before your activity commences. If the area is carpeted, then beware of carpet burns, especially with nylon carpeting. When considering a space, a wooden or A sprung floor is designed to absorb shock. is preferable to concrete. Schools will often have gym matting that can quickly be laid on the concrete surface. If you are using a concrete surface, you may need to adjust your dance activity by removing any ballistic movement or repetitive use of the floor. Consider students leaving their shoes and socks on when working on a concrete floor to avoid injuries.