Developing Arts Literacies:
Students will explore and discover the elements of dance by demonstrating various simple movements. This exercise will help the teacher assess the students’ level of experience and ability with respect to dance. Students will create simple dances in small groups and perform them for the class. Students will manipulate task cards to comprehend the elements of dance and then they will be tested on their knowledge.
Identify what they already know about dance
Discuss the elements of dance
Create movement with their body
Demonstrate understanding of the elements of dance
Express themselves through the art of dance
Identify the elements of dance
What You'll Need
1 Computer per Classroom
Teachers should familiarize themselves with the movement vocabulary that will be used. You may use the handouts, 'Elements of Dance' and 'Vocabulary' located within the Resource Carousel as reference.
Large Group Instruction
Prior to class, print out the Task Cards Handout. Make enough copies for each pair of students. Before giving the cards to students, cut each set along the dotted lines and "shuffle" them. Each pair should work to match up the element of dance with its features.
(For instance, the students should match the large card, "TIME," with the cards for slow, medium, fast, with music, and without music.) Accessibility Notes
Students with visual impairments or disabilities may need modified handouts or texts. Students with physical disabilities will need modified movement options.
Resources in Reach
Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.
1. Ask the students to think about how they would answer the question: What is dance? Have the students divide a piece of paper into three columns, which will serve as a K–W–L chart. Ask them to brainstorm (by themselves) and write down in the first column everything that they know about dance. Encourage them to think about the history of dance, types of dance, dancers and choreographers, dance movements, social dance, what they have seen on television and in movies, etc.
2. Have the students get in pairs and share with each other what they wrote. Then have the pairs work on the second column on the K–W-L sheet, writing down what they want to learn about dance (i.e., specific dance moves, certain genres of dance, the evolution of dance, the role of dance in culture, etc.).
3. Have the pairs report to the class what they discovered from each other, from column one and column two. Ask them to share at least three items from each column. Ask the pairs if they would like to physically demonstrate any of the items that they know about dance (i.e., specific dance positions). Record the class' answers on a large piece of chart paper.
4. Have students then go back to working by themselves and complete as much of the last column as possible, recording what they have learned about dance during the class discussion.
1. Pass out the Elements of Dance handout.
2. Read and discuss the different elements of dance. Ask for student volunteers to demonstrate the elements of movement, time, space, energy, and body, using various movements.
3. Have the students leave their papers on their desks and move into an open space in the room to warm up their bodies.
The following is a good example of a basic warm-up procedure
(each movement should be repeated several times):
Roll the head gently, nodding up and down, then looking side to side
Slowly roll the shoulders forward, then backward
Circle the arms forward, then backwards. Swing the arms
Twist the upper body at the waist, then bend side to side, and forwards and backwards
Rotate the hips clockwise, then counterclockwise
Bend the knees deeply
Shake out the legs, one at a time
Roll each ankle in circles, clockwise and counterclockwise
Stretch the whole body, rising on toes and stretching the arms toward the ceiling
Shake out the whole body
1. Start by addressing the elements of movement, as described on the worksheet. Have the students explore all the different movement possibilities, including locomotor movement (walking, running, skipping) and non-locomotor movement (bending, stretching).
2. Then, one at a time, introduce the other elements of dance: time, space, energy, and body. Allow the students to experiment with different combinations (i.e., stretching slowly at a low level; walking backwards with sharp movements, etc.).
3. After the students have experimented, ask for a few volunteers to share different ways of moving. The volunteers should first demonstrate a movement, then give instructions to the class on how to duplicate the movement. In their demonstrations, students should use the Vocabulary handout located within the Resource Carousel and should refer to the elements of dance where applicable. (Note: The warm-up and exercise on the dance elements can be completed with music. Different types of music may be conducive to different kinds of movement. It may help the students to feel more in tune with their body movements.)
4. After the students feel comfortable moving, divide the class up into small groups of three or four students. Explain that each group is going to choreograph (create) a small dance. Hand out the Create a Dance assignment sheet located within the Resource Carousel and explain the guidelines of the assignment to students. (Note: Students will not use music in this activity.)
5. Give students ample time to complete the assignment, then have them perform their choreographed works for the rest of the class. Discuss students' choreography with the entire class and see if students can identify the elements of dance that were demonstrated.
1. Hand out Each pair should work to match up the element of dance with its features. Task Cards located within the Resource Carousel to each pair of students. (For instance, the students should match the large card, "TIME," with the cards for slow, medium, fast, with music, and without music.)
Do not allow students to refer to their Elements of Dance handout while performing this activity.
2. Hand out the Task Card Self Assessment Rubric located within the Resource Carousel and have the students complete it on their own without using the Elements of Dance worksheet.
Assess the students' ability to:
Throughout the nation, standards of learning are being revised, published and adopted. During this time of transition, ARTSEDGE will continually add connections to the Common Core, Next Generation Science standards and other standards to our existing lessons, in addition to the previous versions of the National Standards across the subject areas.
The Arts Standards used in ARTSEDGE Lessons are the 1994 voluntary national arts standards. The Arts learning standards were revised in 2014; please visit the
National Core Arts Standards ( http://nationalartsstandards.org) for more. The Kennedy Center is working on developing new lessons to connect to these standards, while maintaining the existing lesson library aligned to the Common Core, other state standards, and the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education.
Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.
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