// Carve up the pool with aqua dance

by Kayla Duke



Creating a dance class is one thing, but creating an aqua dance session is something altogether different. Many songs and film clips in popular culture inspire us to move our bodies and dance around in the privacy of our own homes – but how can this inspiration be transferred to our aqua classes?

There are a few things to consider when transitioning dance moves to the water environment. For starters, although you want them to have fun, you don’t want to make your participants feel silly or embarrassed. You also need to make sure the movements work well in the water and you are not just another land instructor trying to do aqua. Aqua instructors are a special breed – I hope you all know that – and land moves and aqua moves can be very different. Down low funky moves, for example, are not very effective in the water. That’s not to say that it isn’t possible to achieve a fun and effective dance workout in the water, however, because it is and your participants will love you for it!

We all dream of carving up the dance floor with our fantastic moves, but the reality is often rather different. Many people feel self-conscious about dancing in public, making the aqua environment an ideal one – with their bodies submerged in water, and no evidence of the mirrors that they are likely to encounter in fitness studios, your participants have the perfect opportunity to let go and have fun. Remind them of this when you are teaching the class so they can really lose any inhibitions and ‘dance like no one’s watching’. As for us instructors, we will be on full view with no place to hide!

Maniac, maniac in the pool…

When it comes to selecting the music, consider the tracks that make you really want to dance. Play them a few times and let your body decide the music you most want to work with. Try this with Beyonce Knowles’ Crazy in love, for example. Have a dance, do your thing, shake that booty and then try jumping into the water. Does it still work? Probably not. But if you take that booty-shaking move and ‘aquatise’ it, the end product may be completely different, and completely workable for your class. The important thing, of course, is that the dancing is incorporated in such a way that it actually gives participants an effective workout, but at the same time, you can get them dancing like they’ve never danced before!

Let’s look at a couple of popular aqua moves;

1. Jack – jumping wide (feet apart) and narrow (feet together) 2. Ski or scissors – jumping one foot forward one back, then alternating.

They are both great moves that are effective in water, but they don’t really have that dance flair. So, what happens if you join the Beyonce booty-shaking move and an exercise move together?

By jumping out wide, ‘shaking it’ and then jumping back together, you have an aquatised dance move that derives from the jack. To get more of a cardio workout, turn the jack into a big M jump by lifting the knees up higher before you jump wide.

‘Dancing up the ski ’

1. Start with the feet together and then scoop the arms forward while jumping
into a diagonal ski (photo 1).
2. Continue scooping the arms around to complete a circular action in front of the body and finish with the arms in the centre of the body. Slide the legs back together (photo 2).
3. Repeat action 1 on the other side (photo 3).
4. Repeat action 2 on other side (photo 4).
5. Speeding up the movement, jump the legs out to a diagonal ski but push out the arms, (one front, one back), and thrust the body forward (photo 5).
6. Slide the legs back together. Bring the arms back into the centre and contract the body in (photo 6).
7. Repeat action 5 on the other side (photo 7).
8. Repeat action 6 (photo 8).

Many aqua moves can be dance-driven; you just need to experiment to see which ones work. Watch music video clips of the latest dance songs or rent a couple of musicals or dance-themed films on DVD; there are lots around at the moment. Use these to help you come up with ideas and then see what you can do with them in the water. Some videos and sequences may seem overwhelming at first, but if just select a handful of moves to start with, it won’t be so daunting. And you can even spice up aqua classes you already run by injecting some dance. Move and groove with the music, let yourself go, use your own flair and let it take you wherever it leads.



Kayla Duke

With 17 years experience of stage productions, and training in classical ballet and contemporary dance, Kayla’s movement quality adds a unique polish to her classes and presentations. Her passion for exercise has encompassed competitive diving and sport aerobics, but is these days focused on the fitness industry. Kayla currently teaches freestyle group exercise, aqua and Pilates and trains and assesses clients around Melbourne.