Getting students (particularly boys!) to willingly participate in dance lessons is a perennial problem for many teachers. Here, we’ve used a combination of fun software, appealing video clips and fun activities to tackle the issue head-on. This unit is split into four lessons and aims to improve learners’ ability to choreograph short dance routines. It is assumed that each lesson will last about an hour.
Hopefully, learners will have SOME knowledge of basic dance elements e.g. composition, special relationship, repetition, break, mirroring, canon etc. If not, introduce these in theory to the class or spend one initial lesson experimenting’ with them. Keeping cue cards or a list of these handy throughout the unit is also recommended. Learners will need to refer to them.
Lesson 1 – Allow learners to ‘play’ with www.dancingpaul.com. It’s a great icebreaker and should get reluctant participants to relax. Having done this, if you’re not situated somewhere that is suitable for learners to start dancing, move the class to a sports hall or go outdoors. Split learners into pairs and have one of them be ‘Paul’. ‘Paul’ then performs his moves and his partner mirrors him/her as he busts some moves. Have them change roles. Ask learners to think of names for each move.
Lesson 2 – Ask learners to recap on the last lesson. Explain to them that they are going to watch another video and afterwards you’ll be asking volunteers to repeat moves they can remember from the video to the whole class. Play www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyAUo_qkefA. Ask a few brave souls to have a go at repeating portions of the dance. Play the video again if they want to be reminded. On consequent viewings you may like to ask them to count the beat in fours. This will help them with their timing. Again, ask them to work in pairs to create their own Transformer Dance. Explain that it is only a chorus of 32 seconds so they only have to prepare for eight lots of 4 beats. Allow less confident learners to repeat sequences of dance. It helps to have the video/music playing in the background. At the end of the lesson, ask selected pairs to perform their dance and ask other learners to video them.
Lesson 3 – Begin by playing the video clips filmed at the end of the last lesson. Ask learners for feedback but emphasise that you particularly want comments regarding quality of movement, body tension etc. rather than judgments regarding “coolness”. Hopefully, you will have examples of individuals with very good body tension and expressive movement that you can highlight. Now ask them what they know about ballet. Some of their comments may not be very positive, but explain to them that you have a video clip that you hope will (at least in part!) change their perceptions. Play www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8BqSKj1BTM and ask learners what they think having watched it. Ask them if they recognised any dance elements e.g. canon. Explain to them that they, in groups of 4, are now going to create their own themed dance. Their theme can be anything: swans, robots or even rugby! If they still appear doubtful, play www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jk-HAcbL1yc. Here they can borrow ideas from a rugby match that can be turned into effective dance components e.g. lifting someone in a line out! Explain to them that they are allowed to use any idea from previous lessons, including their choruses, to create a dance that should last for 1 or 2 minutes. At the end of the lesson, ask a group to perform their dance – even if they haven’t finished it. Ask others for feedback. By the end of the unit, each group should have a recording of their dance.
Lesson 4 – To finish, ask each group to edit their performance clip to create a finished video. They will need to add credits, music etc. and can use any software of their choice. We like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie.
Time needed 4 hours.
- Internet access.
- Interactive Whiteboard.
- Performance space e.g. sports hall.
Hints and tips
- Keep the tasks very open ended to ensure maximum participation. If individuals decline (or even refuse) to take part in aspects of the unit, allow them to modify tasks so that they are happy to take part.
- It is sometimes wise to ask learners to create a Participation Charter at the beginning of the unit. This may include things like ‘I don’t HAVE to take part in something if it makes me feel VERY uncomfortable’ and ‘I will not laugh at or tease others’.
- When showing YouTube clips, we advise that learners are not shown the comments below the videos – not only are some of them disparaging but also the spelling and grammar leaves a lot to be desired!
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