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DanceSense

DanceSense explores why people dance, the elements of dance, dance styles, dance in a multicultural and historical context, and dance as an art form. It uses performances, archival photographs and footage, and interviews to capture dance’s emotion and energy and to stimulate students’ interest, understanding, and appreciation.

Grade Levels: 5-10
Resource Types: 10 Videos, PDF

Understanding Dance

This exploration of what dance is—and isn’t—includes dance performances and interviews with dancers and choreographers. The program is divided into three segments. A segment on Movement compares dance to other forms of movement in nature and in sports. A segment on Choreography explains the role of the choreographer in the creation of a dance. And a segment on Culture introduces the three main categories of dance: artistic, ceremonial, and recreational.

Suggested Uses:
To build your own knowledge of dance.
To show to students as an introduction to dance, to begin a study unit on dance, before attending a dance performance, or as an overview of what dance is and why people dance.
To introduce movement activities in which students observe and copy movements from nature.

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The Dance of Culture

This program explores the origins of dance and encourages respect for dance as a part of many cultures. The four segments show a wide variety of dances from the United States and around the world. The segment on Culture features the Kathak of India, kabuki dance from Japan, Yoruba dances from West Africa, a folkloric dance from Cuba, and a native dance from Alaska. A segment on Popular Social Dance shows the Charleston, the Lindy hop, the jitterbug, and swing dance. The waltz and Acadian dances are featured in a segment on Cultural Changes, and the segment on Comparing Cultures explores the influences of Spanish and African cultures on dances of the Caribbean.

Suggested Uses:
To build your own knowledge of dance.
To introduce class discussions or student explorations of cultural dances.
To prepare students to learn dances from other cultures.
Show in conjunction with segments from the Dances from Many Cultures video/DVD, the African Root video/DVD, and/or Part III of the DanceSense Enhanced DVD to compare cultural dances.

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Dance in America

This program examines American dance as a reflection of divergent and blended cultures. Segments focus on four important cultural influences. Native American Dance tells about the banning of Native dances, the tragic story of the Ghost Dance, and the revival of Native American dancing at contemporary powwows. European Dance discusses how immigrants brought dances such as the reel with them and how dance was a source of community in early America. African Dance is an introduction to African dance forms and how they were transformed when slaves were brought to America. Blending Cultures uses tap dance as an example of how the fusion of European and African dance forms has created social dance forms in America.

Suggested Uses:
To build your own knowledge of dance.
To introduce class discussions or student explorations of dance in America.
In conjunction with segments from the Dances from Many Cultures video/DVD, the African Root video/DVD, and/or Dance Performances video.
As additional background before learning an African, Native American, or Colonial dance and/or tap dances or steps.
As context to help students better understand, analyze, and respond to dance performances.

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The Elements of Dance

An exploration of space, time, and force introduces students to the language of dance. Segments illustrate each of the three elements and their subelements: space (shapes, levels, directions, and pathways), time (beat, tempo, duration, rhythm, and accent), and force (heavy/light, sharp/smooth, tight/relaxed).

Suggested Uses:
To build your own knowledge of dance.
To introduce or review the elements of dance.
Use in conjunction with the Responding to Dance guide in the toolkit to have students describe and analyze a live or taped dance performance. (A variety of performances are found on the Dance Performances, Dances from Many Cultures, and African Root tapes/DVDs.)
As part of a review of basic dance vocabulary.
To prepare students for creative dance explorations of the dance elements. (See the Teaching Creative Dance video/DVD for examples and ideas.)

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The Moving Body

Two segments explore locomotor and non-locomotor movement, how dance movement differs from other types of movement, and dancers’ training and techniques. In the segment Maintenance and Training, dancers describe how they stay healthy and fit. The segment also looks at the dancer’s concept of good body alignment and balance, visits a dance studio, and discusses specific needs of dance attire. The segment Aspects of Movement explores dynamics and illustrates locomotor movement and non-locomotor movement.

Suggested Uses:
To build your own knowledge of dance.
To introduce or review locomotor and non-locomotor movement.
To prepare students to use the Responding to Dance guide in the toolkit.
To have students describe and analyze the locomotor and non-locomotor movements in a live or taped dance performance. (A variety of performances are found on the Dance Performances, African Root, and Dances from Many Cultures tapes/DVDs.)
To prepare students for movement activities exploring locomotor and non-locomotor movements.

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Making Dance

Choreographers and dancers explain and demonstrate how they create dance in five segments that explore various aspects of the process. Choreography explores how a choreographer works through interviews with working choreographers. Making a Dance explains the concept of dance phrases. Space-Time-Force explains how the elements are crafted into a dance. Dancers and choreographers talk about creating dance on the spur of the moment in the segment on Improvisation. And Completing the Dance explains that a dance has a beginning, middle, and end.

Suggested Uses:
To build your own knowledge of dance.
To introduce class discussions of choreography.
To prepare students to watch and analyze a live or taped dance performance in terms of the choreographer’s purpose. (A variety of performances are found on the Dance Performances, African Root, and Dances from Many Cultures tapes/DVDs.)
To prepare students for creating a dance.

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Ballet

Four segments offer an overview of the history, vocabulary, and characteristics of ballet. Ballet Style provides a brief history and introduces terms. In Ballet Training, dancers explain how they train and rehearse to achieve the ability to convey ballet’s sense of weightlessness and grace. Ballet Innovators introduces important individuals such as George Balanchine and Mikhail Baryshnikov. And Watching Ballet offers ideas on how to understand and enjoy a ballet performance.

Suggested Uses:
To build your own knowledge of ballet.
To introduce class discussions or student research on ballet.
To prepare students to attend a live ballet performance.
Show with the segment “Arabian and Chinese Dances from The Nutcracker” on the Dance Performances video/DVD to have students discuss or analyze a ballet performance.
To show with the “Dance Vocabulary/Dance Positions” segment from Part IV of the DanceSense Enhanced DVD to compare ballet, modern, and jazz styles.
To show with the segment “Ballet: Helen Starr” on the DanceSense Enhanced DVD for an in-depth look at a ballet dancer.

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Modern Dance

Two segments help students understand what modern dance is and how it reflects the ever-evolving spirit of innovation. Modern Dance History introduces pioneers of modern dance—Michael Fokine, Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Martha Graham, and Alvin Ailey. Modern Dance Style shows characteristics of the style, such as dancing in bare feet and the use of the whole torso.

Suggested Uses:
To build your own knowledge of modern dance.
To introduce class discussions or student research on modern dance.
To prepare students to attend a live modern dance performance.
Show with one or more of the modern dance performances found on the Dance Performances video/DVD (“Lucky Day,” “The Graveyard,” and “Hot”) to have students discuss or analyze a modern dance performance.
Show with the “Art !Art! Barking Dog” segment from Part III of the DanceSense Enhanced DVD.
Show with the “Dance Vocabulary/Dance Positions” segment from Part IV of the DanceSense Enhanced DVD to compare ballet, modern, and jazz styles.

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Jazz Dance

Four segments explore jazz dance’s connection to jazz music and its unique status in American dance. Jazz History traces the origins of jazz dance in American social dance and the form’s intimate relationship to jazz music. Jazz Technique introduces important physical characteristics of jazz dance such as isolations and coordination, musical aspects such as syncopation, and the importance of structure in jazz dance. Jazz Styles points out characteristics of jazz dance, including the concept of “swing,” and explores styles that have emerged from jazz dance over the years. Watching Jazz offers ideas for understanding and enjoying jazz dance.

Suggested Uses:
To build your own knowledge of jazz dance.
To introduce class discussions or student research on jazz dance and music.
To prepare students to attend a live jazz dance performance.
Show with the jazz performances “Heat” and “Ode to Sabrina” on the Dance Performances video/DVD to have students discuss or analyze a jazz dance performance.
Show with the “JazzArts at Western Kentucky University” segment from Part IV of the DanceSense Enhanced DVD.

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Tap and Percussive Dance

Four segments explore the origins and characteristics of dance forms in which the feet (and in some cases, other body parts) become percussive instruments. Tap History explores the influences of African dance, Irish step dance, and English clogging. Tap Techniques introduces a vocabulary of steps and the concept of syncopation. Tap Styles explores classic jazz tap and looks at the variety of other tap styles that have evolved over the years. Percussive Dance introduces other examples of percussive dance, including flamenco, Irish step dance, and body percussion.

Suggested Uses:
To build your own knowledge of tap and percussive dance.
To introduce class discussions or student research on tap and percussive dance.
To prepare students to attend a live tap dance performance.
Show with the tap performance “Jamaica Funk,” the “Kentucky Clogging” segment, and/or the “Flamenco: Farruca” segment from the Dance Performances video/DVD.
Show with the “Three Irish Dances” segment from Part III of the DanceSense Enhanced DVD.
Show with the “Hand Jives” segment from the African Root video/DVD as another example of percussive rhythm.

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Teacher's Guide

Download Teacher’s Guide PDF
This guide contains information about each program as well as pre-viewing and post-viewing
activities. These programs can be adapted for grades 5 through high school. Some content
is more advanced and therefore more appropriate for middle or high school, particularly
the last five programs. We’ve included a variety of activities, giving teachers the opportunity to select those most appropriate for the grade level they teach.

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