Folk in Motion

Warm up

[You may want to put on music in the background, but ensure this will not prevent any of the dancers from hearing you properly.]

Know your limits and take responsibility for your own bodies: don’t do anything that hurts you.

Come into a circle, not too close together.

Close your eyes, and start to breathe deeply. As you breathe, become aware of the space around you and the other members of the team.

As you continue to breathe, feel your head become lighter and float up towards the ceiling.

Be aware of your sitting bones. Move your weight slightly from one side to the other and back again, as your head continues to float up to the ceiling. If you can’t move your body, be aware of your weight where it meets your cushion.

Breathe in the energy from all around you, and as you breathe out, keep the energy inside you and send it into the furthest parts of your body — your hands, your feet, your fingers, your toes. Feel the energy entering every part of you and waking you up.

Keep breathing as you open your eyes. Let your chin become heavy now, and let your head drop forwards as far as you can. If you can’t move your head, just be aware of the weight of your chin.

Now let your head float up again, and look slowly round to your right as far as you can. If you can’t move your head, just use your eyes.

Bring your head slowly back to centre, and then look round to your left and back.

Now let your chin become light and float slowly up as far as it can towards the ceiling, letting your head go back. If you can’t move your head, be aware of the weight at the back of it. And then let the top of your head float up again.

Let’s repeat that again, starting with your chin becoming heavy…

Now let’s wake up your face. Close your eyes and screw your face up as tightly as possible, and then relax. Open your mouth as widely as possible, and then close it loosely and push your lips out. Try that again…

Become aware of your shoulders. Let them float up towards your ears, and sink again. Let’s repeat that…

Make tiny circles with your shoulders, rolling them back, then up, then forward and back to your starting position. Keep going, making the circles bigger and bigger.

Now go the other way. Roll your shoulders forward, then up, then back and return to your starting position. As before, keep making the circles bigger and bigger.

We’re going to repeat this using our elbows to lead and letting our shoulders follow. Take your elbows slowly back, then up, then forward, and then return to your starting position. Keep going, making the circles bigger and bigger.

Now go the other way. Take your elbows slowly forward, then up, then back, and then return to your starting position. Keep going, making the circles bigger and bigger.

Let your arms fall down on either side of your wheelchair, and feel their weight as you remember to keep breathing. Now feel your arms become lighter, and stretch them out.

Stretch your fingers too. Then give your hands a good shake.

Time to move!

The first thing I want you to do is to go to as many different parts of the room as possible, exploring every part of the space. Always be conscious of the other dancers, and try to move around each other rather than one dancer stopping to let another go past.

Now, when you meet another dancer, find a way of moving together in the space before you part and go on to meet someone else.

Time to change pace. Carry on as before, but when I say ‘Fast’ speed up; when I say ‘Slow’, slow right down; and when I say ‘Stop’ stop your chair as quickly as you can. [It may be helpful to use a tambour or drum too so that everyone can hear]

The last thing we’re going to do is play ‘Follow my leader’. When I call out a colour, you need to find that dancer as quickly as possible and follow them around the space. You might want to form a conga line behind them; just see what happens naturally. As soon as I call out the next colour, they should take the lead and you should follow them again.

Now it’s time to dance!

Click here to download the Warm Up as a Word document

Arts Council England Lottery Funded; Newham London; efdss english folk dance and song society
Colour photograph of dances huddling round to chat.

Photo: Hugh Hill