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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Dance Lesson Plan

Grades:

K-5

Lesson Plan:

Sharp and Smooth Movements

Students explore sharp and smooth movements.
  • Length: 1-3 class periods

Concepts/Objectives:

  • Students distinguish how it feels to do a sharp vs. a smooth movement.
  • Students explain the kind of energy it takes to perform sharp vs. smooth movements.
  • Students perform movements that look distinctly smooth or sharp.
  • Students improvise or choreograph a dance that has sharp and smooth movements.

Resource Used:

Arabian and Chinese Dances from The Nutcracker
Found On: Dance Performances
Video Length: 00:07:22

Vocabulary

force, improvisation, sharp energy, smooth energy
Materials

TV/VCR or DVD player, music that might elicit smooth and sharp movements

Handouts:

Instructional Strategies and Activities

Ideas for Music

One possibility is to use Enya’s music for smooth with Holst’s The Planets for sharp. There are endless possible combinations, though, so find music out of your own collection that makes you want to move sharply or smoothly.

Introduce the Concept

Ask students the following questions:

  • What kinds of movement can you think of that would be very sharp? (Examples: hitting a drum, kicking in the martial arts, throwing a ball.)
  • What would be an example of very smooth movement? (Examples: a bird gliding on an air current, smoke floating in the air, clouds floating, gliding movements in ice skating or roller skating.)

Explore the Concept

I. RESPONDING TO WORDS

Directions to students: Let’s see what it feels like to move sharply and smoothly. I will say a word, and you decide whether it has sharp or smooth energy. Move anywhere in the room with the energy of that word. Be careful not to touch anyone else in the space.

Examples:

  • sharp: bounce, burst, dab, dart, explode, fling, flick, jab, jitter, march, poke
  • smooth: float, gush, meander, ooze, soar, sway, glide, melt, whirl

Mix the words as you give them to the students.

Many words could be performed either sharply or smoothly: twist, stretch, bend, etc. Have the students try those types of words both ways.

Encourage the students to try each of the words you give them in a variety of ways. Ask questions like

  • Can you bounce on something other than your feet?
  • Can you flick with a body part other than your hands? Try your foot, head, etc.
  • Can you gush as if you were a waterfall? How about a small stream?
  • Can you glide high and low?

Remind students to focus in the direction they are jabbing. Jab high, low, left, right, behind, in front, etc. Ooze slowly and then quickly.

These kinds of questions force students to fully explore the movement possibilities of each word. You are “crossing over” to different elements and sub-elements of dance to come up with the questions.

II. MIRRORING

Directions to students: Work in pairs and mirror your partner’s movements.

Have students begin with slow, smooth movements. Change leaders and have them begin again with slow, smooth movements and progress to sharp movements. Ask which are easier to follow: smooth, slow movements or fast, sharp movements? (Answer: smooth, slow movements.)

III. “COPY CAT”

Put students in groups of 4 to 6. Have one student stand in front of the group and lead the other students in the group through a series of sharp movements. There should be a good distance between students; it is essential that they understand that they must not touch any other student and that their movements must be under control.

Tell students to try to do each sharp movement at the same time the leader does it. Although some lag time is inevitable, ask them to try to minimize the time it takes to copy the movement.

Change leaders several times.


Create a Dance

Grades K-2:
Improvise an ABA-structured dance in which the students move smoothly in part A, sharply for part B, and smoothly again for the second A section. Encourage the students to use many of the movements they have explored throughout the lesson. Play smooth music for the A parts and sharp music for part B.

Grades 3-5: “Chance Dance”
Put the sharp and smooth words that were used earlier on index cards, one word per card. Place the students into groups of 3 to 5, depending on their ability to work in groups and solve problems. Give each group a card for each person in the group (i.e., three cards if there are three people in the group). Make sure each group has some smooth and some sharp cards.

Ask the students to do the following with the cards:

  • Shuffle the cards and lay them out on the floor. Whatever order they are in is the order in which you will do the movements in your dance. Think of each word as a section of your dance.
  • Decide how your group will portray the energy words. Will you each do a different movement that shows that word, or will you all do the same movement? Varying the methods you use to portray each word will give more contrast and therefore interest to your dance.
  • Decide spatial formation, or how you will use your space, for each word (section of the dance). Make sure you use your space differently for each section. Be sure that we see a change of levels somewhere in your dance.
  • Most important, we must see the differences in the quality of the words. Sharp words must look sharp, and smooth words must look smooth.

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Support • Connections • Resources

  • Gilbert, Ann Green. Creative Dance for All Ages. Reston, VA: AAHPERD, 1992.

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Performance Assessment

Performance Event: In two groups, our class is going to perform dances using sharp and smooth movements. You will be asked to discuss the differences between the movements and how they make you feel when you watch or perform. We will also watch a video excerpt of dancers and discuss the kinds of movements used.

Directions:

Grades K-2:

Split the class in two and have each half perform the ABA improvisation for the other half. Questions to answer:

  • Did the performers clearly show the difference between the smooth and sharp movements?
  • Did the performers try a variety of ways to move smoothly and sharply?
  • Did the sharp and smooth sections of the dance give you different feelings?
  • Did you feel different performing these types of movement? Which movement quality did you find easier to perform?

Grades 3-5:

Have each “Chance Dance” group perform for the rest of the class. Questions to answer:

  • Did the performers clearly show a difference between the smooth and sharp movements?
  • Was there a contrast in the dance? Did the use of space and the use of the body (individual vs. group movement and use of body parts), timing, and force vary?
  • Was the group well rehearsed?
  • Did watching the sharp and smooth sections of the dance give you different feelings?
  • Did you feel different performing these types of movement? Which movement quality did you find easier to perform?

All grades:

Watch the video segment of the Arabian and Chinese dances from The Nutcracker. The two dances you will see are good examples of smooth and sharp movements. See whether you can tell which dance has primarily smooth energy and which sharp. Do the two dances give you different feelings?

Discuss the students’ reactions to the two dances. The Arabian dance (smooth energy) is very soothing, fluid, and almost mesmerizing. The Chinese dance (sharp energy) is energetic, more staccato, and somewhat angular. Note how the music is very different for each as well. The Arabian music is slower and very fluid, while the music for the Chinese dance is lively, with a lot of quick accents. The dances and music portray very different moods.

Performance Scoring Guide
4 3 2 1 0
K-2
There are clear differences between the students’ smooth and sharp movements. Students perform a wide variety of smooth and sharp movements. Students are able to differentiate the smooth and sharp movements in the video and discuss how the two types of movement made them feel.

3-5
The movements in the dances are clearly sharp or smooth. There was excellent contrast in the use of body, space, time, and force in the dances. The students are able to identify whether their peers’ dances lacked contrast and in what area. The students are able to differentiate the smooth and sharp movements in the two dances in the video and discuss how the two types of movement made them feel.
K-2
Most of the movements in the dance are clearly sharp or smooth. The students perform a variety of smooth and sharp movements. The students are able to differentiate the smooth and sharp movements in the video and discuss how the two types of movements made them feel.

3-5
Most of the movements in the dance are clearly sharp or smooth. There is a good contrast in the use of body, space, time, and force in the dances. The students are able to identify most of the areas in which their peers’ dances lacked contrast. The students are able to differentiate the smooth and sharp movements in the two dances in the video and discuss how the two types of movement made them feel.
K-2
There are some differences between the students’ smooth and sharp movements. The students’ performance shows some variety in smooth and sharp movements. The students have some difficulty differentiating between the smooth and sharp movements in the video and expressing how the two types of movement made them feel.

3-5
Some of the movements in the dance are clearly smooth or sharp. There is some contrast in the use of body, space, time, and force in the dances. The students are able to identify some of what their peers’ dances lacked in terms of contrast. The students have a difficult time differentiating between the smooth and sharp movements in the video and discussing how the two types of movement made them feel.
K-2
There is little difference between the students’ smooth and sharp movements. The students’ performance shows little variety in smooth and sharp movements. The students have a very difficult time differentiating between the smooth and sharp movements in the video and could not relate to the differences in the feelings of the two different types of movement.

3-5
Most of the movements in the dances are not as clear as to whether they were sharp or smooth. There is very little contrast in the use of body, space, time, and force in the dances. The students are able to identify little of what their peers’ dances lacked in terms of contrast. The students cannot differentiate between the smooth and sharp movements in the video and/or discuss how the two types of energy made them feel.
Student does not participate.

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Academic Content


Academic Expectations:

  • 1.15: Students make sense of and communicate ideas with movement.
  • 2.22: Students create works of art and make presentations to convey a point of view.
  • 2.23: Students analyze their own and others’ artistic products and performances using accepted standards.

Program of Studies:

  • AH-(P)(4)(5)-SA-U-1: Students will understand that the elements of music, dance, and drama are intentionally applied in creating and performing.
  • AH-P-SA-S-Da1: Students will (begin to recognize and identify) (recognize and identify) (analyze and explain) elements of dance (space, time, force) and basic dance forms using dance terminology.
  • AH-(P)(4)(5)-SA-S-Da2: Students will use elements of dance in creating, copying, and performing patterns of movement independently and with others.
  • AH-(P)(4)(5)-PA-S-Da1: Students will be actively involved in creating and performing dance (5: incorporating the elements of dance: space, time, and force) alone and with others.
  • AH-P-PA-S-Da2: Students will begin to learn how to use knowledge of the elements of dance and dance terminology to describe and critique their own performances and the performances of others.
  • AH-(4)(5)-PA-S-Da3: Students will use knowledge of the elements of dance and dance terminology to describe and critique their own performances and the performances of others.

Core Content for Assessment:

  • AH-EP-1.2.1: Students will observe dance/movement and describe elements and movements using dance terminology.
  • AH-EP-4.2.1: With a partner or in a small group, students will perform dances using the elements of dance and various movements.
  • AH-(04) 05-1.2.1: Students will identify or describe elements of dance in a variety of dances.
  • AH-(04) 05-1.2.2: Students will describe how dance uses space, time, force, and various locomotor and non-locomotor movements to communicate ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
  • AH-(04) 05-4.2.1: Students will create patterns of movement incorporating the elements of dance (space, time, force).
  • AH-(04) 05-4.2.2: Students will create a movement sequence with a beginning, middle, and end.

Author:

Marianne McAdam

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