• Jessica Strong

Teaching the Dance Concepts: Positions

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Listen while you read! Dance to Learn® Podcast Season 4, Episode 10: Teaching the Dance Concepts - Positions

Or Watch on YouTube

In today's blog, I am discussing teaching the dance concepts with a focus on Positional Dance Concepts!

What are Dance Concepts?

Now to recap, in the Dance to Learn program, my dancers learn 14 dance concepts throughout their Dance to Learn Journey. Those concepts include:

  • Space

  • Tempo

  • Size

  • Levels

  • Directions

  • Pathways

  • Positional Concepts

  • Body Shapes

  • Anatomy

  • Weight

  • Energy

  • Relationships

  • Patterns

  • Sequencing

Teaching Dance Concepts provide our dancers with several benefits to their learning and development and allow you as the dance teacher to focus your classes for a more organized class that promotes a whole brain and body approach to dance education.

What are Positional Concepts?

Positional concepts are abstract spatial concepts such as on or off. I am dancing on a spot, now I am dancing off a spot. Additionally, Positional concepts can be the concepts of through or around. I can dance through a pathway in a zig zag or I can crawl through a tunnel vs I can chasse around a pathway or dance in a circle around the room. Additional Positional Concepts could be inside and outside. I am dancing inside a hula hoop and now I am dancing outside a hula hoop. Positional concepts are an extension of space and will continue to help our dancers learn about proprioception and how their bodies can move in and through space.

What are some activities that can help us teach Positional concepts?

Let’s talk about what’s included in a regular dance class flow.

When I start my weekly classes, we always start in a circle. I call this my learner’s circle and this is where I introduce my dance concept. So right away I would instruct my dancers to sit ON a spot in the learner’s circle.

Introducing the Concept

For teaching the dance concepts of positions, I would take some images like the one’s in my Florrie Flamingo Dance Concept Box. I would show my dancers different positional concepts using these images. This is a great way to capture the attention of my visual learners. I would let each dancer move and manipulate each item in different ways exploring different concepts.

For example:

Put Florrie Flamingo ON the Pineapple

Now Take Florrie OFF the Pineapple

Put Florrie INSIDE the Palm Tree

Put Florrie OUTSIDE of the Palm Tree

Have Florrie Kick THROUGH the clouds in straight pathway

Now have Florrie Kick THROUGH the clouds in a zig zag

Have Florrie Fly OVER the Clouds

Now UNDER the Clouds

Lastly have Florrie Fly AROUND the clouds

Allowing my dancers the opportunity to get hands on with these images is a really great way to captivate the attention of my tactile learners. Those are the learners who love hands on exploration.

Now as we explore each concept, I don’t want to forget about my auditory learners. So as we explore each position we will say the word out loud.

The last part of Introducing the concept is by exploring the concept with movement to captivate my Kinesthetic learners - or the learners who love to learn by performing and moving. So remember how each dancer starts on a spot in our learner’s circle? I would use that spot to explore different positions as we transition into our Standing warm ups. For example:

Let’s stand ON our spots and Plié. Now, let's jump ON our Spot and off our spot as we practice échappé.

Developing Skills

As we transition to Developing Skills and start moving across the floor, I would use some props to explore the concept of through.

For example, I may use a tunnel to have dancers crawl through the tunnel. Or If my dancers are a little older, I may place some cones or poly dots on the floor and have dancers travel through the poly dots in a zig zag pattern performing a bourrée walk or kicks like Florrie.

Obstacle Course

For my Obstacle course, I would use a combination of props to explore multiple positional concepts. For example:

I would leave some cones or bean bags to have dancers leap or jump over.

I would put a balance beam up to travel through the space

I would add a hula hoop for dancers to twirl inside and then chasse outside of the hula hoop as they danced around it.

As the dancers performed the different obstacle course, I would have them say the positional concept words as they performed the movements to further help them remember and retain the information they are learning that class.

Creating/Free Dance

To finish class, I would explore a Creating portion of class. I like the song Airplane by the Lori Berkner band. I would give all the dancers their own hula hoop. They would get inside the hula hoop (which would be their airplane and give them some movements to perform thorough or around the room when they were inside of their plane. The song is great as it leads dancers to land their airplanes, get out and then perform movements such as jumps, twirls, gallops, free dance and then sit down. I would instruct dancers to jump over their hula hoops, twirl inside their hula hoop, gallop around the hula hoop dance through the room between all the hula hoops and then finish the song sitting on a spot.


So speaking of songs, I have a handful of songs to help teach the positional Concepts.

The Airplane Song by the Laurie Berkner Band is a great option.

I also like her Goldfish song for exploring positional concepts such as on/off (getting on and off their rocks) swimming around the ocean or the through the ocean.

Another song that is great for positional concepts is Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid. Get out your parachute. Dance around the room with the parachute. Dance with the fish ON the sea. Then to finish go under the sea and everyone goes under the parachute.

Opposite of Under the Sea would be Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I would practice leaping over rainbow colored scarves. They can also dance through the scarves like the sliding on a rainbow.

Going on a Bear Hunt and Hunting for Hidden Treasure are also some great songs to explore positional concepts. I created a Spotify playlist dedicated to teaching the dance concepts of positions.


The last thing I want to talk about of course, is my favorite thing! PROPS! What are my favorite, props to teach positional concepts?

For the Concept of On/Off - I love using the Little Steps wooden stepping stones by Lily and River. They are such a high quality prop to have on hand and make balancing activities a little more fun. I can stake multiple steps on top of each other or out in a row like stepping stones. Students love walking, balancing or jumping on or off of the steps. .

I also use velcro carpet dots or poly dots and have the dancers practice jumping on and off each dot by performing an échappé. It’s a really fun and easy activity.

A Balance beam is also a really great prop to have on hand to practice the concept of On! Having dancers walk, kick or jump on the balance beam.

For the positional concept of Inside/Outside my favorite and go-to prop is the hula hoop! Dancers can easily stand inside the hoop, or outside the hoop.

For the positional concept of through, I like using jump ropes. I lay them out perpendicular on the floor and let dancers perform movements such as kicks, gallops or chasses through the jump ropes in a straight line. You could also use pool noodles for this as well.

Tunnels are also really great props for exploring traveling through something. Dancers can put their vestibular sense to work as they crawl through a tunnel.

If I wanted to get more advanced with the concept of through, we could practice weaving through different props in a zig zag pattern. For this I like using cones, bean bags, or even teddy bears.

For the concept of around, I love using circular objects such as hula hoops, parachutes or I even

found a circular balance beam on amazon which my students love dancing on.

For the concept of over, I will use those, cones, teddy bears, and bean bags and have dancers practice leaping and jumping over different objects.

Lastly for the concept of Under my go to prop is the parachute. Dancers love moving and dancing around with the parachute and then at the end everyone gets trapped under the parachute.

Okay dance teacher friends, that’s all I have for you today! Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite prop or song for teaching the Dance Concept of Positions!

Shop our Full List of Positional Concept Props!

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