Sample Class: Dance-Inspired Moves

by Jamie G. Smith on Feb 16, 2010

Class Takeout

Use this Latin-themed sampling to inspire your own foundation dance class.

Dance-inspired classes offer an exhilarating approach to movement, giving participants a chance to work their bodies in out-of-the-ordinary ways. This fun option also provides members a diversion—a place to feed their souls for an hour. Whether you teach hip-hop, Latin, jazz or your own style, the following sample class will help you ensure participants’ success.

Dance-Inspired Moves Details

Format: dance-based
Total Time: 45–60 minutes
Equipment needed: none
Music suggestions: For the warm-up and main work segment, play songs that have 128–137 beats per minute (bpm). Pitch up or down depending on ability levels and the tempo needed to execute each move safely. Stay within 80–100 bpm during the cool-down.

Warm-Up (8–12 minutes)

Use the most basic moves for what you’ll be teaching. Emphasize foot and leg motion, and add simple arm movements only for flavor and to warm the upper body. Explore basic foot patterns and introduce coordination, which draws in warmth and awakens the body, mind and spirit in preparation for dance.

Sample Latin Warm-Up. Work from front to side, back to side and back to front for each base move.

  • Front, side and back mambos: alternate right (R) and left (L) feet; e.g, front mambo: step forward R, back to center; repeat L.
  • Mambo cha-cha front, side and back: alternate R and L feet; e.g., front mambo: step forward R, back to center; 3 cha-cha steps: R, L, R; mambo: repeat with L lead.

  • Safety guideline: On side cha-cha, keep cha-cha center with one foot on floor at all times to avoid lateral motion with impact before participants are fully warmed.

  • Front and back mambo (work R side first): step forward then back with R foot, missing center; tap and work L side.

  • For first two moves, start with 8 of each step, working from front to back. Repeat with 4 repetitions all the way around 2 more times, then move on to next base move. For last move, simply move front and back.

    Main Work Segment (22–38 minutes)

    One key to helping participants succeed is not the style of dance but rather your ability to begin with base moves that create the foundation. The beauty of this philosophy is that not only can you then show modifications and enhancements, but you have endless styling possibilities. The same base moves can be fashioned into a brand-new routine by simply altering the flavor, accessories (direction, arms, hips, head) and music. This lets you generate multiple routines and styles from one set of core moves and allows for building and layering.

    We are going to use a Latin-flavored routine, but keep in mind that these principles can be used for any/all expressions of dance styling. Using the chart, start with a base move. Demonstrate the modification(s) as well. Completely work your foundational move—this is your core element. If students can learn it successfully, they will be able to participate fully.

    Once you have coached participants to victory, add accessories. The more frills you add, the more advanced the steps become. The most effective way to do this is to introduce one component at a time. Add arms/hands, head/hips or direction to the mix. Head, arms and hips add the most enhancements, while direction accentuates physical demand and use of space. Concentrate on thoroughly building one piece at a time before moving on.

    Cool-Down (5–10 minutes)

    Take this time to slow down the music tempo considerably and focus on bringing heart rates down. Help people discover how their own bodies feel the music. This will help students integrate self-awareness and realize how important the cool-down is. With all of the rib, hip and calf work that dance requires, be sure to incorporate stretches that release the quadratus lumborum, Achilles tendon and calf muscles.

    Dance Fitness Class: Latin Flavor

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    IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 7, Issue 3

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    About the Author

    Jamie G. Smith

    Jamie G. Smith IDEA Author/Presenter

    Jamie G. Smith is the creator and presenter for Latin Blaze®. She is a dance fitness specialist with over 20 years’ experience and an ACE and AFAA continuing education provider. Find out mor...