Just before Christmas we were lucky enough to be invited to watch Disney on Ice presents Frozen at the 02 arena. The only way to describe the show is just… amazing. We had brilliant seats so Mabel and Greta got to see the characters up close, wave and shout hello to them and see them wave back. It was magical, the girls were spellbound and the absolute wonder their faces the whole way through is something I will never forget, in fact I’m sure they will be talking about it themselves for a good while to come!
Being firmly in the home education mentality now, I’m keen to turn anything we can into a learning opportunity, so when I heard that Disney on Ice has an educational program called Fit to Dance, that combines storytelling and dance, of course we were going to give it a go! The idea is simple, your child/children make up their own story, and then they tell their story through dance, just like the Disney on Ice performers. I love any project that mixes physical activity with another subject and it seemed like it would be right up Mabel’s street. She loves making up her own narratives in the imaginative role play games she plays and she also loves to dance and move… perfect!
So just after new year, when all the Christmas craziness had died down, we sat down together to have a look at the Fit to Dance resources. The first thing we did was watch the educational videos on the Fit to Dance website. Mabel just loved these and I was really impressed with how well they explained the different concepts around performing a story. The videos feature footage from Disney on ice shows and some of the performers talking about how they use their movements, gestures and facial expressions to convey different things about the story and their character. There is even a video of one of the costume designers talking about how to get into character with your clothes. These really helped bring it all to life for Mabel and get her excited to put on her own show. Even if we hadn’t been to see Disney on Ice, I think the videos would have been enough for her to get the idea of what it was all about.
The program encourages you to first think of a character for your story and there is a sheet of inspiration if you need it and a character worksheet to fill in. Mabel knew straight away that she wanted to be Rapunzel who she saw at the beginning of Disney on Ice and is one of her favourite princesses. The worksheet prompted her to think about what Rapunzel looks like and what she likes to do, she then drew a picture of her at the bottom of the sheet.
Then Mabel had to chose a setting for her story and she decided that it would be in a hospital because Rapunzel had just had a baby (the fact that Aunty Rachael was currently in hospital having just had her baby may have had an influence here). The Fit to Dance resources talks about choosing a quest for your character, we didn’t really go into that because Mabel raced ahead with her ideas for her story, but I think Rapunzel’s quest was just to keep her newborn baby happy (not one to be taken lightly to be honest). It also suggests thinking about an obstacle and how your character will overcome that obstacle to reach a happy ending.
We used the story builder worksheet to help Mabel structure her story and I was so impressed with the ideas she came up with. She decided that the obstacle would be Maleficent, who had arrived to put a curse on the baby, and they would overcome it by Tinkerbell the Royal fairy arriving to save the day.
Now we had our story, it was time to practise our moves. For older children, there is a sheet of suggested dance moves that different types of characters might do. We skipped this bit in favour of going a bit more freestyle as Mabel is only 4, taking our inspiration from the videos that we had watched. We talked through her story again and for each section I asked her how she thought Rapunzel might be feeling and how she could move and act to show that she’s feeling that way. Mabel really got this straight away and I loved watching her doing a bit of acting and dancing.
The only thing left to do was to get into costume and set the scene. Mabel has a Rapunzel dress that she got for her birthday last year so that part was sorted. She got some little play make up for Christmas so I put some lipstick on her and she did find a purple crown but that got quickly discarded. I asked her if she wanted me to braid her hair like Rapunzel has during the movie but she said no, Rapunzel has ‘down hair’ when she’s in hospital apparently.
Mabel took a long time setting up her performance area, with a chair making a nightstand for Rapunzel’s hospital bed and all of her make up, jewellery and hair brushes arranged on it perfectly (although I think poor Rapunzel is in for a heavy reshuffle of those priorities by her baby very soon!) . She found her baby Annabell doll to be her newborn and then roped Greta into being Tinkerbell and shoved a tutu on her. Ernie was supposedly going to be Flynn Ryder but managed to escape without a costume and didn’t follow his stage direction very well).
The scene was set, the audience (Mummy, Daddy and a couple of care bears) were ready, the music had been selected from the Fit to Dance website and we were ready to go!
I pressed play on the music and they were off. The three of them put on a lovely, if slightly chaotic show and ended to rapturous applause!
We loved using the Fit to Dance resources and we had a really enjoyable afternoon creating the story and arranging the show. Mabel was interested in seeing a behind the scenes insight into the Disney on Ice show and that she had loved watching live and was definitely inspired by the performers. It was a brilliant first introduction to story telling and structuring, a concept that I’m not sure she would have been as receptive too if it hadn’t been for the dance and performing element, and using her favourite Disney characters was just a massive bonus.
If you have little ones that love to play pretend and you fancy n afternoon of fun, you can find the Fit to Dance resources here.
If you’re tempted (like I am) to take your little ones to see Disney on Ice soon, the ‘100 Years of Magic’ Tour starts at the end of March, and if ‘Frozen’ was anything to go by then I highly recommend it!
We made a little video of our fun afternoon putting on a dance show and I hope you enjoy it. Make sure you watch till the end for Ernie’s very special moves!
*This post is in collaboration with iChild.co.uk and Disney on Ice but as ever all words, photos and videos are our own, our reviews are always completely honest and we only ever work with brands that we truly love.
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