Elements of Ballet

How many ways can a person move?


Key Staff

Primary instructor

Key Skills

Developing Arts Literacies: Understanding Genres


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.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • 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

Teaching Approach

Arts Integration

Teaching Methods

  • Discovery Learning
  • Discussion
  • Experiential Learning
  • Reflection

Assessment Type



What You'll Need

Required Technology
  • 1 Computer per Classroom
  • Speakers
Lesson Setup

Teacher Background

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.

Physical Space



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.

Build Knowledge


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.

Build Knowledge

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 Task Cards located within the Resource Carousel to each pair of students. 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.)

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.

ArtsEdge Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.

Common Core/State Standards

Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.

National Standards For Arts Education

Grade 5-8 Dance Standard 1: Identifying and demonstrating movement elements and skills in performing dance

Grade 5-8 Dance Standard 2: Understanding choreographic principles, processes, and structures

National Standards in Other Subjects
Physical Education

Physical Education Standard 1: Uses a variety of basic and advanced movement forms



Stacy Elise Stevenson
Original Writer

Jen Westmoreland Bouchard

Email Print Share


- +
Email a link to this page
Share This Page


Related Resources


Use this collection of resources and articles to devise an approach for supporting individual needs in the classroom: from English Language Learners or students with disabilities, to conflict resolution and giving feedback.



© 1996-2019 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts  

ArtsEdge is an education program of

The Kennedy Center 

with the support of

The US Department of Education 

ARTSEDGE, part of the Rubenstein Arts Access Program, is generously funded by David Rubenstein.

Additional support is provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

Kennedy Center education and related artistic programming is made possible through the generosity of the National Committee
for the Performing Arts and the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts.

The contents of this Web site were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. However, those contents do not
necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal government.
Unless otherwise stated, ArtsEdge materials may be copied, modified and otherwise utilized for non-commercial educational purposes
provided that ArtsEdge and any authors listed in the materials are credited and provided that you permit others to use them in the same manner.

Change Background:

Connect with us!    EMAIL US | YouTube | Facebook | iTunes | MORE!

© 1996-2019 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts  
    Privacy Policy
| Terms and Conditions


You are now leaving the ArtsEdge website. Thank you for visiting!

If you are not automatically transferred, please click the link below:

ArtsEdge and The Kennedy Center are in no way responsible for the content of the destination site, its ongoing availability, links to other site or the legality or accuracy of information on the site or its resources.