January 29, 2018 - Madeline Warriner
Dance ED Tip # 54:
Mindfulness: How Do We Use It in the Dance Class?
Mindfulness is any thinking, moving, breathing activity where metacognition, or thinking about thinking (and feeling) is brought in. It is actively observing and participating in mental and physical processes. We have all experienced dance as a mindful event.
When engaging in any mindful activity, The Limbic System is stimulated.
The best way to enter and maintain a mindful state of learning is to consistently redirect focus and attention back to the present moment. While it might feel redundant, consistent and simple cues can act as anchors to snap students back to a present, feeling state.
Ask students to observe, notice, assess, and move on
-Observe themselves/others moving
-Notice physical/ emotional feelings/states
-Assess honestly what is causing/enhancing/hindering/etc. These states/actions
-Move on. No judgement. No value. Keep moving.
Remind students of sensory information. Cue attention to muscles, energy lines, skeletal structures, etc.
-Remind students to come back to the feeling of breath in movement and stillness.
-Remind students to be kind when they get distracted. Instead of anger or frustration for the wandering mind, remind them to just let it go and come back into the work. It’s normal and human to get distracted, but jump back in.
Opening and closing circles are restorative practices that build social emotional learning. You can ask students to respond openly to a prompt, share one word, or have them reflect privately.
- Use breath in some capacity each time. Have students take deep breaths facing inward to the circle, placing hands on their head, chest, bellies, etc. Have them inhale and reach their arms up and exhale drop them to sides. Have everyone place their hands on each other’s shoulder blades and breathe deeply into their backs and their peers hands.
- Ask students to recall and reflect on a memory (challenging/proud/difficult/etc.) from a previous class. Have students bring this proud feeling/ lesson learned/ etc. into the present moment. How can they continue to work on/ maintain/ etc. this in an active way?
- Use visualization and positive affirmations. Ask students to think of a goal or dream for the future. What is a characteristic in that dream? How can they incorporate that characteristic into their work this present moment? Use this to have them also visualize dancing choreography confidently and successfully.
- Ask them to make eye contact with everyone in the circle. Tell them to thank each other with their eyes for their effort/ support/ compassion/ energy/ work/ etc.
Madeline Warriner is a movement artist, educator, and advocate residing in Brooklyn. She graduated from Rutgers University with a BFA in Dance and an EdM in Dance Education, where she received university and professional awards. She currently performs with Shantelle Courvoisier Jackson’s insufficientloveconductors and JoAnna Mendl Shaw’s The Equus Projects. She teaches for Dancewave in Brooklyn and Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Dancing Through Barriers program. She also teaches in Bates Dance Festival’s Youth Arts Program and directs a Creative Dance Initiative in Woodstock, Vermont. She teaches Yoga and Pilates to adults and children throughout New York City, and created Harlem Yoga Studio’s Kids Yoga Teacher Training and Curriculum. This experience has allowed her to work with all different ages and abilities, from BFA dance programs to programs for students with Autism. She shares professional development workshops with teachers and administrators about mindfulness and movement and has presented in various education conferences. She loves her bike and her (roommate’s) cat.