Get your floss en pointe!

January 2019 and the Flossing craze shows no signs of abating – here’s The Royal Ballet’s Gary Avis showing off his flossing skills backstage at a recent performance of The Nutcracker.

The American dance craze sweeping the globe known as ‘flossing’ will be hitting a zombie-like formation of kids in your nearest playground, school hall or park soon. Invented by 15-year-old Russell Horning, (known to his huge social media following as ‘The Backpack Kid’), flossing involves a signature swing of the arms and hips in opposite directions. While the movement looks deceptively simple, trying to coordinate the asymmetric rhythm is a bit like trying to rub your stomach and pat your head at the same time. We’ve asked some of our dancers from The Royal Ballet to break down the movements, so you can have a go at learning the dance for yourselves!

As you can see, flossing requires advanced coordination (and some serious concentration); the dance involves cross lateral movement, which is when arms and legs cross over from one side of the body to the other. Cross lateral movement is hugely important in childhood development, as this kind of movement requires both sides of the brain to be engaged, strengthening nerve-cell pathways. Cross lateral movement also stimulates brain function and learning, so you could try flossing as a warm up to start the day before literacy and numeracy classes!

If you want to go further, why not try some of these ideas out with your class?

  • To introduce the concept of flossing to your students, watch the videos of Royal Ballet dancers Beatriz Stix-Brunell and Marcellino Sambé on this page (although your students have probably already shown you!)
  • Next, get your dancers to warm up and isolate the different body parts used in flossing – hands, feet, arms, legs etc. We provide a whole range of warm up exercises on the Learning Platform Resources page.
  • Learn the movement by slowing down each unit of movement to a count of four, gradually speeding this up.
  • Continue with a creative exploration of flossing as a MOTIF. A MOTIF is a short phrase or a movement that is related to the theme of the dance. Motifs provide the building blocks of choreography. You can develop your motifs further to include additional movements. For example performing the movement in canon across the group.
  • Performance and reflection (a moment for articulation and critique).
  • A cool down exercise that takes you back into a classroom-based activity. Again, you can find a range of cool down exercises in the Resources section of the Learning Platform.

Creative Exploration

If you want to build a whole lesson around flossing, here are some exercises for you to consider.

  • Start off by exploring the ACTION of flossing. An ACTION is a movement or gesture. Then explore the SPACE flossing takes up; can you floss facing different directions? Can you floss high up? Low down?

  • Then you could explore different DYNAMICS. DYNAMICS are the intention, quality and emotional content you can add to a movement. Can you floss really slow? Really fast? Really sharp? Really soft? Celebratory? Frightened?

  • Exploring RELATIONSHIPS. How do you floss in duos or trios? You could link your different versions with TRANSITIONS. TRANSITIONS are the way in which you link one movement to the next movement, or one sequence of movement to the next sequence of movement. You can transition using actions like jumps, turns, travelling moments, gestures, balances and suspensions.

And if you want to take the flossing craze even further, you could think of some cross curricular activities and discussions, for example:

  • Start a class discussion about the impact of social media and viral videos.
  • Create poetry or creative writing about a celebratory moment.
  • Look at the anatomy of the body and how it is engaged when flossing.

Just remember – Simon Hunt from Tottington Primary school in Manchester used the flossing craze as an opportunity to engage his students, and followed up his classroom flossing session with a literacy class about the impact of social media. You too can use your students’ interests as a teaching resource, making their learning relevant and fresh.

Why don’t you delve into our Create and Dance Building Blocks Explorer course to find ways of creating your own celebratory classroom dances based on the floss?

Many thanks to Beatriz Stix-Brunell and Marcellino Sambé of The Royal Ballet for taking part in our floss-a-thon!


Create and Dance is generously supported by The Sackler Trust