“Scooby snacks!” she said, and that was our cue. One by one, we rose from our table and made our way to the dance floor, high-fiving along the way. As the music started, we took our places.
“Put your pinky rings up to the moon...” and we were off, gliding to the beat and snaking to the rhythm of “24K Magic.” Cameras flashed from every angle. Onlookers laughed and smiled. We moved and jammed with each other. Three minutes felt like a flash and a lifetime.
The music faded, and we dispersed, giving space for our colleague to make his worm debut.
The flash mob I choreographed for my company’s holiday party gave me a new perspective for the value of dance as a team-building activity. Through the process of choreographing, practicing, and performing the flash mob, several core insights emerged:
Our insecurities and saboteurs come out. "I can’t dance" is the most common one. How we process these inner messages can teach us a lot. Having a lot of people (at least 15) dancing at once helped many feel like they were not alone. Having a shared common goal fights off the saboteurs.
Everyone has had a unique experience with dance. Flash mobs help us learn about each other. Did you know that the software engineer did tap dance for 10 years?
Relationships are built across levels. By bringing together many levels of the company, senior leaders to IT guys, the dance floor builds relationships across the hierarchy.
Collaborative decisions must be made. There are a lot of decisions that had to be made, and individual comfort level was an important factor in making them. We worked together to make decisions about formations, cues, set-up and more. It's a true opportunity use collaborative decision-making.
We had to plan for the unplannable. The show must go on. What do you do when something unexpected comes up? How do you handle and process that? If you miss the introduction, don't worry, just start on the slides!
Generating participants is a group effort. Peer encouragement (not pressure) helps. Having leaders on board will encourage others to put themselves out there.
Give people many ways to learn the dance. Make it flexible and easy. In the performance, I used non verbal cues with my hands to remind the dancers what was coming up next. The dance shouldn’t cause anyone chest pain.
Dancing shows willingness to go outside of your comfort zone. When learning a body roll thrust move that I added in, I said, “You’re going to feel awkward, but you just have to own it!"
It empowers, brings people together, and builds culture. Leave them wanting more. When people move and sweat together, they become empowered in themselves and closer with their team and culture.
It’s contagious. Now that we’ve done one, dancers are already thinking about the next one (rumor has it, the company picnic may be our next target...)
My personal takeaway was really starting to see myself as a leader. When I sprained my ankle the evening before the mob, I knew I couldn’t let down the dancers. I think having me in the mob made them comfortable and more confident, knowing they had someone to follow. I felt like a leader but not in the directorial sense; more so in the enabling and empowering sense. I was offering a totally new experience that was unique to my skills and personality. It was thrilling and self-empowering.
Tips for Choreographers:
Make it easy
Ask if anyone has special skills or moves and incorporate them
Using imagery helps people learn movement quickly
Repeat repeat repeat
Coordinate with the DJ
Have a music backup plan
Coordinate to have someone film
Have a practice video
Make it safe - have a movement introduction before jumping into the choreography
Try to get at least 15-20 participants - the more the merrier!
Comments from the Dancers:
I knew that the [our] culture was different, but what I have learned from this experience is that the people are what really make it great. This experience reaffirmed the fact that together we are powerful, fearless and can change any environment we are in (we got that party started!). Getting to see another side of my fellow [co-workers] was so amazing, and I will never forget how we came together to create such a memory.
It was a fantastic experience. I learned some great dance moves while doing something completely outside of my comfort zone. The team was amazing, and I feel like this whole experience brought us closer together!
It was neat working with folks from all levels of the company toward something that was unfamiliar and out of the comfort zones for most of us. 10/10! Would do it again.
It was great! I was able to watch the video and learn all the moves. Lauren made the process fun and easy. She provided the routine but encouraged us to own our moves. That's the beauty of dancing... even though you might look weird doing it, you own it and for me, it makes me feel good when I dance!
It was very unsettling at first, as I'm not even an amateur level dancer. Then it turned to fun with Lauren, and the team during practice, and then to thrilling by the end, when you could just relax and go with it, and trust that there were 15 others on the team out there with you.
JOIN ME ON THE DANCE FLOOR
Can you see a flash mob for your team or organization? Let's talk!