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K-12EducatorsThe Arts

Analyzing Two Dances and Making a Dance Map – Lesson Plan

Students watch and analyze the Arabian and Chinese dances from The Nutcracker and then create a dance map.

  • Length: 1 class period
  • Grades: 4-8


Concepts/Objectives:

  • Students will create a divertissement.
  • Students will understand the basic dance elements.
  • Students will understand the effects of different choices (in terms of the basic dance elements) on the quality and meaning of a dance.
  • Students will understand how the dance elements enable a choreographer to tell a story through dance.

Resource Used:
Arabian and Chinese Dances from The Nutcracker
Found On: Dance Performances

Vocabulary, Materials, and Handouts

Vocabulary
choreography, dance, direction, divertissement, force, locomotor, non-locomotor, rhythm, shape, space, tempo, time

Materials
TV/VCR or DVD player, CD/tape player, assortment of tapes/CDs with varied music (fast, slow, happy, sad, loud, soft, etc.), paper, pencils or crayons, open space

Handouts:
Analyzing Two Dances Discussion Questions

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Instructional Strategies and Activities

Introduction
Explain the three purposes of dance: ceremonial (celebration, hunting, religious), recreational (folk, social), and artistic (theatrical, ballet).

Explore the three basic dance elements and these sub-elements: space (level, direction, shape, pathways), time (pulse, tempo, rhythm), and force.

Discuss The Nutcracker. Include its history and background on Tchaikovsky, Petipa/Ivanov, divertissement, and story ballet. Show the video excerpt and discuss it in terms of the elements of dance. After discussion, engage in the Dance Map activity.

Idea
Many Kentucky dance companies offer educational programs: sending dancers into schools to teach; providing lecture-demonstrations and in-school performances; or offering reduced-price tickets for attending performances, often followed by question/answer sessions. Often these companies also tour. For ideas on locating dancers and dance companies and using them at your school, check out the Kentucky Arts Council’s Arts Resources for Teachers and Schools.

Making a Dance Map
Start with a blank piece of paper and a pencil or crayon. Place three points anywhere on the paper. Next, draw a pathway that is not a straight line to connect the three points.

Label your three points “beginning,” “middle,” and “end.” Mark five other places on your pathway using hash marks (||). Underneath each set of hash marks, write a level, a type of shape, and a number between 1 and 8.

You have created a map for your dance.

In an open space, walk the pathway as it is shown on your paper. Walk it again for memory. Make sure you are beginning and ending in the correct places. Also, watch your directions to make sure that you are moving identically to the map.

The third time you walk your pathway, notice where the hash marks are on the paper and freeze in these places for the right number of seconds (the number between 1 and 8). Decide what shapes you will make at this time.

After moving through the space a couple of times, pick a theme for this dance that goes with your pathway.

Choose movement qualities that match the theme. List these on the back of your paper so you won’t forget. You might also want to experiment with different locomotor movements to connect you from point to point.

Also experiment with different kinds of musical accompaniment, such as fast, slow, soft, loud, percussive, lyrical. Notice the effect this has on your movement choices.

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Performance Assessment

Performance Event: The student participates in a class discussion comparing the basic elements of dance in the Arabian and Chinese divertissements from The Nutcracker. The student uses a dance map to create and perform a dance demonstrating the basic elements of dance.

Directions: Discuss the basic dance elements and compare them in the two dances from The Nutcracker. Then, using paper and pencil, make a pathway using three points. Then add five sets of hash marks to indicate places where you will pause and make a distinct shape. Then use the map to create a dance, adding a theme, different locomotor movements, and musical accompaniment. Perform your dance.

Performance Scoring Guide

4 3 2 1 0
The student creates a dance map and clearly performs the dance it represents. The student’s dance clearly demonstrates an understanding of the basic dance elements. In class discussion, the student demonstrates an extensive understanding of the basic dance elements in the Arabian and Chinese dances. The student follows directions. The student creates a dance map and generally performs what it represents.

The student’s dance demonstrates an understanding of most of the basic dance elements. In class discussion, the student demonstrates a

broad understanding of the dance elements in the Arabian and Chinese dances. The student follows most directions.

The student creates an adequate dance map and performs it adequately. The student’s dance reflects basic understanding of the basic dance elements. In class discussion, the student demonstrates basic understanding of the dance elements in the Arabian and Chinese dances. The student follows some directions. The student creates a dance map and performs it to a minimal extent. The student’s dance reflects minimal understanding of the basic dance elements. In class discussion, the student demonstrates minimal understanding of the basic dance elements in the Arabian and Chinese dances. The student follows few directions. No participation or response or irrelevant answer.

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