// H2O Dance Party

Limited equipment? Challenged to come up with something interesting? It could be time to inject some dance fever into your aqua classes. Kayla Duke and Naomi Ling show you how.

Adding a dance element to your aqua aerobics class will provide participants with more variety and lots of fun. You can work with existing aqua moves, making them a bit more ‘dancey’, or modify land-based dance moves to make them suited to – and effective in – the water environment. Either way, you’ll have a large repertoire of exercises to play with.

There are three main aspects to consider when creating an H2O dance class: music, choreography and teaching style. If you can master these three, then you’ve got a successful H2O Dance Party on your hands. So, let’s look at these three areas a little more closely.


When selecting music for your party it is important to choose something that not only you like, but also something that your participants will like, keeping in mind their age and culture, and also the time slot of your class. With the huge range of music genres available you can choose to mix and match different styles or just stick to one theme, as long as this will suit the majority of your participants. It’s not always possible to please everyone; just do your best.

Play with different speeds, giving appropriate ups and downs. This will provide a balance to the cardio and muscle conditioning aspects of the workout.

The music styles that we used for the choreography illustrated here are Classical, Pop, Broadway and Swing.


A good way to start off an H2O dance class is to listen to the music you have chosen and groove! See what you do naturally. If you are not much of a natural dancer, then looking at what others do may give you some ideas, e.g. in dance classes or the film clip to the song you have chosen. If choosing classical music, for example, ballet would be a good dance style.

Photos 1, 2 and 3 show moves based on classical ballet partner work (pas de deux), with turning out of legs and lifting one’s partner. For many participants this would be difficult and potentially dangerous on the land, but is very safe, achievable and effective in the water. It also creates great entertainment and builds a fantastic team atmosphere.

The properties of water mean that a lot of dance moves need to be modified to make them aqua fit. Its resistance greatly increases the intensity of some moves, while its support can remove the challenge of others, such as in the knee forward and straight leg back moves illustrated in photos 4 and 5. Blending the usual aqua rocking horse move with a common funk pop move (going forward and back with the arms crossing and wide), this normally soft and relaxed funk move becomes straight and strong for aqua.

Teaching style

You have the power to control the energy level and ultimately the success of your class. It can be helpful to write down what you think your clients are looking for: a good workout (physical), fun, a positive experience (emotional), to feel cared for, encouraged, a confidence boost. Gather these things and then enjoy; be sincere, be yourself, and this will flow through to your participants. Everyone has a different personality, different strengths and weaknesses – their own 'X factor'. You may be good at telling stories or jokes or perhaps you just have a nice smile. Remembering to use your strengths to win over your participants will help you conduct the best class you can every time. Now, who’s ready to party?

Exercise example 1

Classical (partner work)

  1. Partner 1: keep hands on hips and do frog jump. Partner 2: keep hands on partner’s hips and lift them up as high as possible with every jump. Bend and straighten legs to obtain power to lift your partner (photos 1 & 2).
  2. Partner 1: keep hands on hips and do high split jump. Partner 2: same as above (photos 1 & 3).
  3. Repeat each move, swapping partner positions.

Exercise example 2


  1. Raise the left knee, extend arms straight in front with hands flat and palms facing each other, and cross the arms in front of the body (photo 4).
  2. Raise the right leg up straight and push the hands out to the side of the body, turning the palms away from each other (photo 5).
  3. Repeat each move on the other side.

Exercise example 3

Broadway (group work)

  1. Hold hands and do 4 knee repeaters on the right, facing the left corner (photos 6 & 7).
  2. Hold hands and circle the right knee around, inside to out (photos 6, 8 & 9).
  3. Hold hands and then twist to right, left, right (photo 10).
  4. Repeat everything on the left leg facing the right corner.

Exercise example 4

Swing (elephant dance)

  1. Start with legs wide apart, right arm to the side of the body with the hand open facing the front (photo 11a).
  2. Lift left leg up, raise right arm up with the hand open and circle around at the top (photo 11b).
  3. Drop left leg down, drop right arm down after circle at the top with hand open and palm facing the front (photo 12a).
  4. Lift right leg up, raise right arm up with the hand open and palm facing the back and circle around at the top (photo 12b).
  5. Drop right leg down, drop right arm down after circling at the top with palm facing the front, i.e. back to step 1 (photo 11a). At this point, the right arm has completed a figure 8.
  6. Repeat everything on the other side. This is an elephant dance; imagine your arm as the elephant’s trunk and the rocking move on your legs from side to side as the way an elephant walks.


Kayla Duke
Currently based in Singapore, Kayla is group exercise country manager of California Fitness. She instructs, choreographs programs, trains and assesses instructors and regualarly presents nationally and internationally. Before beginning her career in the fitness industry, Kayla danced for 17 years in stage productions, giving her a truly unique presentation style. Kayla was named Network’s Author of the Year at the FILEX 2010 fitness industry convention.

Naomi Ling
A national and international presenter, Naomi is an accomplished martial artist and is renowned for her energetic and fun instructing style. She is a lecturer and examiner for Certificate III in group exercise and aqua leader module and also mentors new instructors and teaches a wide range of aqua and freestyle group exercise classes.