Pick a Card or Simple Motivation

I like my students to be self motivated but sometimes we all need a little push in order to pull out our best work.  Try a deck of cards.  An old deck of cards, preferably (or a cheap deck).  Here's how it works:

Split the deck of cards in half based on color - half red, half black.  Now have your students perform the dance or combination they're currently working on.  While they're dancing you walk around watching their feet, face, arms, etc.  If you notice good footwork from a student, hand the student a black card (yes, while they're tapping - they are talented and will be able to dance just fine with it in their hand, though the card will get a bit mangled).  If you notice anything else done really well such as sharpness of movement, great expression, or nice body lines, give them a red card.

That's it!  You'll be amazed how hard the kids will work for a simple playing card.  Also there is no punishment or taking cards away.  Most rehearsals we tell them what they're doing wrong and how to fix it.  This trick does the opposite.  It gives them recognition for doing things right.  I did this once last year.  Once.  The kids remembered and have been requesting for quite a while now, so I finally remembered to bring the cards in and it went great.

Now I wouldn't do this every week or else it will very quickly lose its appeal.  There are also variations that can keep it interesting such as:

1.  At the end of the performance, the students with the most red cards and black cards, get to step out of the dance for the next performance and hand out cards themselves.  This is a good thing on many levels.  They suddenly become keenly aware of what a "card-earning" performance is.  They also see things differently than you and will often give cards to people you missed.  Also I don't give everyone a card every time.  If someone fails to get any cards I will try to watch them and try to find something they are in fact doing well so I can give them a card for it.

2.  Kids are naturally competitive and will compare how many cards they got with their fellow dancers.  You can shake things up a bit by making Aces worth 3 cards.  This throws a little randomness in there and gives dancers who might not normally get the most cards a chance to "win".

All in all this little game makes for a more enjoyable rehearsal with highly motivated students to boot.   Give it a try, it's a win win for all.       


  1. i wish my teachers do that but sometimes they do it just for business i think, that sounds really nice, i wish i live in California ;o

  2. wow, thanks! this is a great idea. will definitely implement this to our students. it sure is a fun way to sharpen their skills in dancing. a deck of cards may just be a simple accessory but it has its magic!


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