2. Working in groups to devise a dance

Dance in the classroom lends itself to cross-curricular work, as you explore the ideas behind dances, the significance of the costumes and learn how to do the dances.

Dance is a physical activity and can be done as part of the physical education curriculum or it could be used to explore ideas in other subject areas such as literature and science, for example.

In Case Study 2 and Activity 2 dance is used to help pupils show what they know about a topic or tell a story.

Case Study 2: Working in groups to make up a dance sequence

Mrs Beatrice Masiye has been working with her class on how the brain sends messages around the body. She decides to use this topic in her PE lessons where she is doing a series of lessons on dance.

Mrs Masiye tells her pupils that she is going to divide them into groups of between six and ten. Each group has to think of ways to show how a message goes from the brain to a part of the body to tell it to move and other messages come back to the brain to develop or stop the move. She gives them some time to think about this and goes around supporting them as they talk.

After 15 minutes, she suggests they think about how to do the dance and start practising. She reminds them that they have to convey their ideas through movement with no words.

When they have had time to practise, each group shows what they have done. After each performance, the rest of the class has to guess what is happening and can ask questions.

She decides to give them time to develop their ideas and show them to the class the following week, one group at the end of each day.

Mrs Masiye notes that everyone has had fun and thinks her pupils now also appreciate the importance of dance as a means of expression and as a way to communicate.

Activity 2: Using dance from the past and present to communicate

Ask each pupil to research a dance that a parent or older relative used to perform or still does. It does not have to be a ‘traditional’ dance. They should find out:

  • Where the dance comes from.
  • Why the dance was performed and what purpose it served.
  • Where it was performed.
  • How it was performed.

Give them time to do this and write out how to do the dance. (See also Key Resource: Researching in the classroom [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .)

Next, using one of your local traditional dances as a base, ask your pupils to list what it is meant to show.

Now ask your pupils to make up their own dance using any techniques they like, to show similar ideas. These could be about:

  • reaching adulthood;
  • the birth of a baby;
  • a good harvest.

Give them time to practise and then share their dances.

Remind your pupils that they should show their emotions – such as happiness, anxiety, horror, sadness – with their bodies and faces as they dance.

Discuss these emotions and give them time to practise again. Share their performances again and discuss how they improved.

1. Exploring culture through dance

3. Learning from performance