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Dance dynamics: Under the sea

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By Kara Herbertfounder of Tempo Dance Company

Group dance is a great way to inspire children. And the routines really needn’t be that difficult, as movement teacher Kara Herbert shows…

This is a contemporary dance routine for four- to seven-year-olds, based on the theme, ‘Under the sea’. Teach the routine bit by bit, adding on a little section at a time, and practise with the music as you go.

You will need: large clean space, with appropriate flooring; CD player; ‘Under the Sea’ music from the film The Little Mermaid; large pen and paper.

Before you begin

Ask the children to discuss their thoughts and imagery on the underwater theme. What might they find under the sea? Use your pen and paper to note down their ideas, and keep this displayed for them throughout the workshop. Encourage the children to demonstrate their ideas physically, putting actions to their words.

Warm up

It is always essential to get the children warmed up before they begin dancing. Start with an aerobic game then do some simple stretches, such as lunges and side stretches.

A good game to warm up for this workshop is ‘Two in a boat’. Ask the children to jog around the space, changing directions and pathways. You can play music of your choice in the background. When you shout Two in a boat, the children have to pair up and sit with their feet together (either straight and apart or bent and together) and hold hands. You can change the number – for example three, four or five in a boat means that amount of children in a group. Anyone who doesn’t make it into a boat is out!

When you call out Man overboard! the children have to lie on the floor with their arms and legs stretched out in a star shape. The last one to do this is out!

The routine

Two in a boat

Start the routine in pairs. Sit facing each other and holding hands, with legs apart in straddle, and straight legs touching your partner’s toes. Lean backwards and forwards to the music, pulling gently, before circling round in circles.


Release hands and spin round on bottoms to sit back to back, keeping your feet on the floor, knees bent and legs together. Rock from side to side with arms stretching over your head. Move in the opposite direction to your partner, looking over your shoulder at them.

Growing seaweed

Come into a squat (knees bent, on toes, hands on the floor) to face the audience. Slowly straighten legs to come to a standing position. Arms should make a wave motion as they lift above your head, growing taller. Finish on tiptoes.


Step to the side and turn. Lunge (front leg bent, back leg straight), with arms reaching up above your head, and make a wave motion. Step and turn to the other side and lunge; this time reach arms and body down to the floor and wave.


Jump to face the audience with legs wide and bent, and toes turned out (make sure that knees are over toes). Bend arms to the side, and snap fingers and thumbs together quickly like pincers! Jump to the side, the back, the other side and back to the audience, maintaining a ‘crab’ position. Step to the side, cross the other foot in front and step to the side again, then reach pincers towards the ceiling and snap! Repeat to the other side.


Jump feet together and face the audience. Hold your nose with one hand and wave the other hand. Bending your knees to go into a squat, lower your bottom to the floor to sit in a ‘mermaid/merman’ position. (See next step.)


Sit with both legs bent. Fold one knee in with the foot to the side of the hip and place the other foot in front of the body with the knee out to the side. Circle arms in front of your body on the floor and round to the side, then above your head. Circle arms round in the other direction. Repeat twice.


Roll over onto tummy to face away from the audience. Rest your chin in your hands with elbows on the floor, and kick legs one after the other with toes pointed. Finish the routine by looking over your shoulder at the audience and smiling!


Perform the routine to an audience and encourage feedback. Can the audience recognise the different images? What are their favourite bits? What other things can be found under the sea?

Further information

Tempo Dance Company is a community dance company dedicated to inspiring people through dance and movement. They work with all ages and abilities, in a variety of community and educational settings. Tempo Dance offers one-off workshops as well as short or long residencies. For more information email

Creative task

If you have time, encourage the children to add another sea creature to the routine. Working on their own or in pairs, they should form a shape to represent the creature, then make it move either by jumping, turning, changing levels or directions.


You can make costumes for your performance. Keep it simple and get your dancers to wear ‘sea-coloured’ clothes, or add ribbons tied round their wrists for waves.


  1. T4726
    on 2 January 2013

    Great Idea

    Thank you! My topic for this term is ‘Under the Sea’. This will fit beautifully. Thanks again.