A dance activity is a planned or facilitated series of movement problems that are solved by the participants. The dancers use their body in a wide range of ways to move, alone or with others, in a rhythmical or irregular manner in a space.
Movement problems could be as simple as a ‘follow me’ style of class, learning set choreography, a dance game with rules and a winner, improvised movements within a form or a series of creative dilemmas that, when solved, create a dance.
The purpose of the dance activity may be creative expression, communicating ideas or emotions in a different way, enacting a cultural ritual, or just moving for the joy of moving. It could also just be about meeting and moving with other people.
What does a dance activity look like in education settings?
A dance activity in a school may be learning about the various dance genres that are performed in professional settings like classical ballet, tap, modern dance or Hip Hop. It could also be part of cultural dance performed in a community setting or learning about a social dance like the Lindy Hop or how to do the Macarena.
However, most dance activities in an education setting will involve a combination of making, performing and responding to dance.
Each dance activity will have a clear learning intention and often fulfill more than one learning criteria.
Dance of the Dinosaurs Dance Activity
Here is an example of how a dance activity for Early childhood can be used to fulfill a range of educational requirements. I have used the same theme but with a variety of learning outcomes.
In this dance activity the children look at a series of pictures of dinosaurs and decide how they move. Do they stomp, fly, swim, slither or scurry? Forming a line they follow the leader as the teacher holds up a different picture for them to respond to.me activity.
The activity focuses on developing their gross motor movement and balance as they perform in a simple formation.
The children pretend to be paleontologists uncovering fossils and then imagining the fossils coming to life. They use small delicate movements as they uncover the fossils and then transition into becoming the dinosaur.
Ensure that they are clear about which dinosaur they are going to become and how they may move. Is it heavy or light, high level or low level, using a lot of energy or only a little?
They then predict what might happen at the end of this dance story.
The activity is about using their imagination to create a simple narrative.
The predictive story-based form dance activity supports the development of literacy skills.
A teacher led discussion begins with a conversation about how to tame a dinosaur. What is making the dinosaur so wild? Is it that he is hungry? Or frustrated? Or sad?
The children first create the movement that people can see the dinosaur doing. Then they move like the dinosaur feels on the inside.
As a whole class the children come up with ideas about how they might make the dinosaur feel better. In pairs they make movements to show their solutions.
This dance activity is teaching about positive behaviour and the children’s interactions with others. Dance activities can be used to nurture empathy and help children appropriately express their feelings.
The children explore the landscapes where dinosaurs roamed. Choosing their favourite dinosaur, they improvise moving around the volcano, through the swamp, across the grasslands, beneath the oceans.
Be sure that as they go on their journey you are using descriptive vocabulary for the environment, but also dance words for the movements. Here is an example of using the Elements of Dance.
This activity teaches children important information about dance including the basic element. Shape, pathways, dynamics (heavy and light), timing (fast and slow) and stillness. It also teaches important content information about the time of the dinosaurs.
Using dance activities
The multiple uses of dance in the Primary classroom teach about the art of dance and how children can interact with each other in the classroom. They develop physical capabilities for health and well being and grow multi literacies as students explore new ways to communicate and make meaning.
Dance activities allow students to learn in, through and about dance and support many vital areas of the Australian Curriculum. They encourage imagination, participation and nurture a love of learning. Use dance in your classroom to build an inspiring learning environment.
Dance Teaching Ideas resources will take your lessons to the next level. You can find tips and strategies with high quality, ready prepared content for using dance.