celebrating 60 years of dance

Everyone deserves a chance to dance!

by Miss Laura

In September I had the privilege to train as a Certified Rhythm Works Instructor and am looking forward to introducing it to the Peninsula School of Dance community over the coming months. I am particularly excited to be expanding our program for people with additional needs and individual learning differences. Everyone deserves the chance to dance but not everyone is able to join the classes currently offered in our timetable. One of the Core Values we uphold at Peninsula School of Dance is being inclusive. We genuinely believe that dance is for everyone. By introducing Rhythm Works classes we hope that we can provide an environment that truly welcomes and includes people of all abilities.

What is Rhythm Works?

Rhythm Works Integrative Dance (RWID) is a clinically based hip hop dance program that utilizes sensory processing, kinesiology, and behavioural analysis as a foundation to build customizable classes for students.

It is an inclusive class that focuses on skill development, self-empowerment, and celebrating our differences.

Offered as individual and group classes, you can find RWID classes in dance studios, schools, and therapy clinics across the world. It can be particularly beneficial to people with a diagnosis of Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Sensory Processing issues.

Emerging research is showing that movement, music, and rhythm, when combined, light up the brain in ways that create new neuropathways. Dance is a powerful modality that offers an opportunity to build social, emotional, cognitive, and motor skills. Plus, it’s tons of fun!

Benefits of Rhythm Works

Based on the Hip Hop Made Easy Program (currently offered in 2000+ schools and dance studios worldwide) RWID classes use rhythm and hip hop dance to assist in achieving goals across the 5 developmental domains; motor domain, cognitive domain, communication domain, self-help/adaptive domain and social-emotional domain.

RWID teachers have access to a variety of resources including Hip Hop in a Box and Dance 123 that provide them with a library of dance steps to choose from. These resources include cards with visual representations of the steps that can be displayed to help visual learners learn the steps and everyone remember the sequence the class planned together. Each step also has clearly defined benefits some of which include:

The steps are taught using scaffolded methods with students learning at their own speed, building their abilities incrementally.

How is Rhythm Works different to a regular dance class?

Your first RWID works class is a private class where you and your teacher get to know each other and learn the motivation behind you joining the class and what your goals are. If you are working with an occupational, physical or speech therapist we will ask your permission to speak with them so that we can plan a class that best meets your needs.

After this initial class you will be asked to join a small group class with the teacher who took your private lesson, at least one teaching assistant and other students. Before this class we will have looked at your goals and spoken to your therapists to develop a learning plan for you.

For example, if you are working with an occupational therapist to develop self-help skills such as being able to put a pair of pants on unaided we will incorporate activities and dance steps that help to develop single leg balance, sequencing and weight shifting. Perhaps you are working with a speech therapist on sounds or mouth movements. Many of our dance moves have matching vocalisations that can be used to reinforce your speech therapy sessions.

What to expect in a Rhythm Works small group class

A beginners RWID class is broken down into clear modules that are followed in order. These will have been introduced to the student prior to the lesson and will be displayed on a visual schedule in the studio.

As you complete each module of the class either a student or the teacher will take the module off the visual schedule so it is clear what activities are left to come.

We have already started implementing this format in our Petite Hop class as it benefits students of all abilities. Our Petite Hop class mirrors the structure of a Rhythm Works class and is as follows:

  • Me Time: Time for the student to explore the studio space before the class starts.
  • Rhythm Lessons: Simple lessons in rhythm to help improve student’s rhythm skills.
  • Warm Up & Stretch
  • Dance Time (Choreography): Learning new steps, revisiting steps already learnt and putting them in a sequence.
  • Game: A game that reinforces the dance steps learnt so far.
  • Performance / Sharing: An opportunity for students to show what they have learnt.
  • Finish: A chance to talk and receive stickers

Rhythm Works at Peninsula School of Dance

Peninsula School of Dance will be offering two Rhythm works classes from February 2018, one on a weekday morning and one on a weekday afternoon. If you would like to be kept up to date about these classes please email lauramckinnon@peninsuladance.com.au to express interest.