Teaching Tools - First up FOLDS...

Christian talks you through Stopgap’s handy teaching tool F.O.L.D.S

Hey there! Need some tips and tricks to create exercises?

F O L D S is an easy acronym to help you get started and be inclusive on all levels! This is super useful if you have a dancer in your class that has a different physicality to yourself. 

F...is for flow

Flow is about the pattern of energy throughout the exercise and the thread of movement; a motion that leads into another and finding the transition is the ‘flow’ between them. 

A dancer with a different physical language to you may have a different flow to you, so try to consider flow when composing your exercises. Consider if someone needs a longer flow to move to the ground and up again. 

A dancer with a different physical language to you will often have a wide variety of translations for one move depending on what the next move is, it’s timing & direction and the FLOW - SO. . . .  consider the flow.

The flow of an exercise and sharing your thinking behind the flow can also be a great tool to assist in memory of movement for dancers who learn differently.

O...is for open

L..is for language 

Open Language is describing and talking about movement in order to make it accessible for all. It can involve images, action words and visualisations or descriptions. Open language does not need to be bland - it can be quite specific and in doing so supports the dancer to really grasp what you, the teacher, is after. 

For instance, we could say “move around the room” this is open language, but it is also vague, how do we really want our dancers to ‘move’ around the room? Is it ‘Zip as fast as you can go today’, ‘trudge with weight’ or ‘shift as if we are about to be tickled by someone we love?’. Being specific gives dancers a clear picture of what you want.

Open Language can be used help to inspire the kind of movement or quality you are looking for without limiting the possibilities. It can help in finding unison where everyone has the same timing, but the shapes  and body parts used are different, yet there is a clear movement quality or texture.

Open Language is also a good tool for improvisation when guiding an exploration.. All of these we use on a daily basis in Stopgap.

D..is for demonstration 

Sometimes in order to make movements or ideas as clear as possible, demonstrating yourself can be the best way of doing this.

All though it may feel a little exposing - take a moment to share all or part of your exercise before going into the detail of teaching it. This is essential for the dancers who are translating your movement who have a different physical language to you. They can then make informed decisions about what translation will suit the flow, style and motivation of your exercise.
For dancers who learn differently - a good demonstration can provide clarity of the shape, effort and length of the exercise, for those who learn visually it will help them to remember. For those that need a verbal physical description, describing the exercise whilst demonstrating in real time will be a useful support. 

S...is for share 

This is about clearly sharing the purpose and goals of the exercise before you begin. 

It seems so obvious, however in the rush of teaching energy - we often forget to mention what the exercise is about! This is vital information for those translating. Knowing the drivers for the exercise supports everyone but in particular those that are feeling around for a translation, whilst trying to find a flow, remember the exercise and stay in rhythm with the group. 

F.O.L.D.S - is a good place to start when creating and teaching exercises for a mixed group of dancers. However the more you develop as an inclusive dance teacher you will find your own ways of guiding your dancers into, through and out of exercises and research - but when first translating your practice as a dance teacher Flow, Open Language, Demonstration and Share or F.O.L.D.S is there to support you!
Thanks for reading!

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