DANCING WITH IMAGINARY PAINTBRUSHES
Creative movement is a scary activity to teach for many teachers. Just
the thought of a class of thirty children running around the room
screaming and bumping into each other was enough to keep me from teaching
it for many years. I learned how to teach it, however, at an
Orff-Schulwerk Conference a few years ago, and it works!
First you must set some ground rules: the two S's as explained
in the mirroring article. If this is your first attempt, and the
children start breaking the rules, just stop the music, have them
sit down, and calmly state the rules again. Begin the music again.
Usually, this is all it takes. If not, do the same thing again. If
the a child refuses to follow the rules, set the child aside to watch
the other children. If the whole class is unruly, then stop the activity
for the day, and try again another day. Most classes can handle movement,
but there are some that have proven to be uncooperative, so they do more
Moving like paintbrushes allows the participants to lose the
self-consciousness and inhibitions that are often
connected with group dance. Very interesting music to use for this
activity is on the CD Fresh Aire 4 by Manheim Steamroller, American
Gramaphone Records, 1981: "Crystal" and "Interlude 7."
Tell the participants to give themselves enough space, at least arms
length apart, to move on the floor. Do the warm-up, painting, then
dance to "Crystal" and "Interlude 7." Slowly
demonstrate and say each of the following points as the group
follows your instructions:
Warm-up: (no music--just the sound of your voice)
- Stand with your feet together.
- Breathe in through the nose--out through the mouth several times.
(When you're in a bad mood, stop and breathe. It will cheer you up. When
you're sad you can't inhale.)
- Let your arms wrap around one side of your body, then the other. Give
yourself a pat on the back.
- Stand, placing your feet underneath your shoulders (alignment.)
- Feel your legs reach down 500 feet to the center of the Earth.
- Reach up at the same time with your head to the sky.
- Put your chin to your chest, now up to the sky, into the chest, up to the
- Put your ear up to the sky--let everything you don't need pour out of the
other ear and let it go back into the earth as mulch.
- Put a paint brush on top of your head and paint an arc or rainbow. Now
let it go back and forth, and back again.
- Put your other ear up to the sky.
- Turn your left foot out and right foot in, stretch your left hand down, and
stretch your right hand up to the sky. Now look up.
- Pretend there is a rope hanging from a sky hook. Grab hold of the rope
and pull yourself straight up. (This is how to get up without hurting yourself.)
- Turn your left foot in and right foot out, stretch your right hand down, and
stretch your left hand up to the sky. Now look up. Grab hold of the rope and pull
yourself straight up.
- Hold on to your elbows with your hands, drop your head a little, bend,
- Roll your spine and let your head come up and relax.
- Imagine a pallet of paint with a rainbow of colors. You have paint
brushes attached to your feet. The floor is a huge canvas for you to paint. Dip
the brush into one color.
- Now paint only curves and squiggles.
- Paint straight lines.
- Paint both straight lines and curves.
- Now the canvas is 3-D. Paint with your knees. They move differently
from your feet. If you see someone else doing something inventive, try it.
- Paint with your elbows.
- Attach many brushes to your spine.
- Paint with your wrists, ankles.
- Take the area from your wrists to your elbows and paint with your arms.
- Now take the area from your knee to your ankle and paint with your legs
- Now I'm going to turn on some music called Crystal and Interlude 7.
Listen to what part of body I say, then paint with it.
- Switch to knees
- Add elbows with knees
- Now go to the spine
- Go down on your knees
- Hip bone, then add spine, add knees, and elbow.
- Top of head
- Each part of your body, every finger, toe--counts as one part. Paint with
one part of your body.
- Now, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10......
- Pose in one position. Look around you with your head. Now paint
yourself out of that position.
- Pose in another position--paint yourself out.
- Hold your most exotic pose.
This relaxing activity takes approximately fifteen minutes. It works well
with school-aged children and adults. The imaginary paintbrush technique is
exciting to do and to watch.
Copyright © 1991 by Carol A. Greene