Dance and Maths: Angles


Dance and MathsUnderstanding angles is essential to learning about how things are formed in our environment.  Anywhere two lines join to form a point is an angle. They help us to build, to tell time, how to measure the distances between stars and planets and angles in conjunction with sunlight allow us to see colours.

In Dance angles are equally as important.  They form shapes with the body and give us variety in how we use direction leading to more complex forms of making meaning.  Using dance to learn about angles presents students with different ways of looking at the body.

Students need to learn what angles are, how they work, how to measure them and how to make them.

Angles are used to discuss shape, direction, opening, turning and inclination.  Using the body is just one of the interesting contexts where student learn about, understand and apply information about angles.  Through dance activities students can discover how angles are a part of their everyday environment.

Using dance to learn about angles gives children opportunities to observe and apply their knowledge about angles in static positions and when moving.

Learning about angles through dance

There are many opportunities to learn about one-line angles, two-line angles and no-line angles in a dance context.

One-Line angles: where only one arm is visible and the other arm is remembered. For example, one hand of a clock, an open door, using a locomotor movement to travel through the space after another movement.

Two-line angles: where both arms of the angle are visible.  For example, in the corner of a geometric shape, the corners of the room, holding two hands at an angle or making an angle using two bodies.

No-line angles: where no line is visible. For example, a spinning ball or turning a wheel or turning your body to face a different direction.

The abstract nature of angles, where lines are often imagined, has more than a little similarity to dance and how we ask the audience to imagine.  To describe the angle of the slope of a roof there must be an imagined horizontal line.  When describing the angle of a clock hand the starting position is imagined even if there is no hand there.

In dance we may ‘see’ the absent of the partner when the dance meant for two, or ‘feel’ the warmth of the sun on the dancer’s face when they are actually on a stage, or respond to the impact of a punch when there is nothing else in the space.

In the Primary classroom angles are dealt with in different ways at each stage.  Here are some different ideas about how you can use dance to teach about angles and use angles to teach about dance.

Dance and Maths Activity for Year 1

Direction and levels

  • Jump turning to the right and clap four time, repeat to face the back, then the other side and then the front.

Repeat jumping to the back and then the front and then repeat turning by the left.

  • Repeat all except instead of clapping the children make a still shape that they hold for 4 counts.
  • Repeat the activity again with the teacher calling a level for each shape. For example, low level, medium level, or high level.  This is a great activity for balance particularly with the half turns.

A full turn at Year 1 may be too difficult but you might expect some children to have go at it!

Dance and Maths  Activity for Year 2

Locomotor movement, direction and use of space

  • Walking through the space and, each time you get to the edge of the room, you must turn at a right angle. If you are going to run into someone you must STOP and make a shape, using a part of your body to make a right angle, until its safe to move again.

The teacher will clap and say turn and you must change direction to a right angle.

An extension is that the teacher continues to change the locomotor movement.  Start with walking and build up to a gallop.

  • Then discuss clockwise and anticlockwise. Rehearse the children walking around the room in both directions and then they walk in a circular movement anywhere in the room.
  • Repeat the first activity with the teacher also adding in calling out ‘clockwise’ and ‘anticlockwise’ as well as the ‘clap and turn’.
Dance and MathsDance and Maths Activity for Year 3

Shape and Body Bases

  • Find something in the room that has an angle and then duplicate it with your body. Is the angle less, equal to or greater than a right angle?
  • Repeat and make the shape with a partner.
  • With their partner they then make shapes using as many angles as they can. They must be able to explain if the angle is greater or less then a right angle.

Students demonstrate and discuss what body bases they are using to balance.  For example, they could be      making a pyramid by joining and leaning on their hands at the top with their feet wide.  Their body bases would be their hands and their feet.

Dance and Maths Activity for Year 4

Responding to shapes

  • Take photos of you using your body and then you and a partner making angles greater, equal to or less than a right angle. Then use an application to draw over the photos explaining where and what the angle is.
  • Use an application to measure the angle.
  • How do the different angles in each shape change the mood of the image? What are the similarities and differences between shapes formed by different angles?


Dance and Maths Activity for Year 5 and 6

Choreographic devices – transition and contrast

  • Review the different types of angles (acute, right, obtuse, straight, reflex, full revolution) and their measurements using protractors.
  • Using the following instructions students, in small groups, must choreograph a dance. The teacher may use any music for this activity.
  1. Must display at least four parallel and perpendicular lines
  2. Use movements that move and travel at least two of the following angles. Acute, obtuse, right, reflex or straight angles.
  3. Must include a variety of shapes both moving and static. For example, square, isosceles triangle, rhombus)
  4. In your dance you must show that you have accurately measured traveling movements that are angles of 95 degrees and 60 degrees.
  5. Movements are joined together using transitional movements.
  • Design your dance on paper first, measuring the angles of the movements and planning where the shapes will happen.
  • You may like to show the students an example of how this could look.  Geometrie Variable is a group that performs these geometric movements and the children will love the way they use their bodies and arms and how they transition effortlessly from shape to shape. It also shows the possibilities of putting their choreography to music.

These activities are just a few ideas for your students to try.  They give children the chance to apply new knowledge in different contexts and show their understanding of Maths concepts.

Working in the abstract in both dance and Maths gives a new perspective on the similarities and differences across different learning areas.


For more creative dance ideas to use in your home or classroom look at the ready made lesson plans and teaching resources available on Dance Teaching Ideas.