In addition to the considerations for planning the class programme outlined on pp. 34–39 the following guide will aid the planning process for dance:
- Consider the two aspects of dance contained in the strand: folk dance and creative dance.
- Consult the year plan and decide how many units of work can be developed for each of these aspects.
The following guide will aid the planning of folk dance lessons:
- Select steps or movement patterns which may be explored to develop co-ordination.
- Select the dances to be developed throughout the unit.
- Select the sections of a dance or dances to be developed in each lesson.
- Select the appropriate accompaniment.
- Plan the understanding and appreciation of folk dance to be developed throughout the unit.
Exemplar 6 illustrates a Westphalian folk dance ‘Come to Me’ which is suitable for teaching to children in first or second class or to introduce folk dancing to older children.
Exemplar 7 illustrates a simple Irish dance ‘An Damhsa Mór’ which introduces children to some of the basic steps of Irish dancing. It could be performed by children from first to sixth classes who are being introduced to Irish dancing.
Exemplar 8 illustrates the Haymaker’s Jig, an Irish dance suitable for fifth and sixth classes who have some experience of Irish dancing.
EXEMPLAR 6 - A folk dance: 'Come to Me' (first and second classes)
EXEMPLAR 7 - An Irish dance: An Damhsa Mór (first and second classes)
EXEMPLAR 8 - An Irish dance: Haymaker's Jig (fifth and sixth classes)
When planning the structure of a creative dance lesson or series of lessons it is useful to consider the principles of movement.
The principles of movement which are required by children to dance can be grouped under the following headings:
- what the body can do (body action)
- how the body moves (dynamics)
- where the body moves (space)
- with whom or with what the movement is taking place (relationships).
The principles are outlined and expanded in Fig. 3, opposite. By helping children to understand and use these principles, the teacher will enable them to develop a vocabulary of movement which they can then call upon when creating, performing and appreciating dance. Initial lessons may focus on developing an understanding of these principles by using one or two of them as the stimulus for the lesson.
- A lesson on body awareness may involve exploration of the different body actions – travel, turn, jump, elevate, gesture, stillness – and through this children create a short dance linking two or three of these actions together.
- A lesson on space may involve an exploration of pathways, which leads to the creation of a dance based on contrasting pathways in space.
In such lessons the stimulus for the dance is movement itself.
Exemplar 9 is an example of an initial lesson for infants, focusing on body awareness and spatial awareness.
Exemplar 10 is an initial lesson for fifth and sixth classes, focusing on body awareness and relationships.
When children become familiar with the principles they can then apply them when exploring a wide range of themes or ideas, for instance:
- Animals – shapes, levels, actions
- Traffic – pathways, directions
- Snow – dynamics of tension in a freeze and letting go of tension in melting
- Friendship – relating to another dancer, showing movements of unison and conflict.
Exemplar 11 is an example of a unit of work based on the theme of outer space, applying a number of the principles of movement.
EXEMPLAR 9 - A creative dance lesson (infant classes)
EXEMPLAR 10 - Creative dance (fifth and sixth classes)
Helping children to create dances
When creating dances, children should be guided to
- explore movements in response to a stimulus or idea
- select movements to express ideas
- create a simple phrase of movement
- develop the phrases into a dance, varying body actions, spatial aspects, dynamics and relationships.
The form of the dance
Each dance should have a clear beginning, middle and ending. Simple structures similar to those found in music can be used:
- narrative form
unfolding of a story
- binary (AB)
‘A’ section followed by a different ‘B’ section
in a dance about life and death, section A shows movements of lightness, happiness and growth while section B shows movements of heaviness, despair and decay.
- ternary (ABA)
‘A’ section, ‘B’ section, repeat of ‘A’ section
the dance about life and death could be seen as the ending leading back to the beginning, the hope of happiness of section A contrasted with despair and decay of section B, but there is a return to hope by a repeat of section A as the ending.
Relationships in dance
Dances can be performed alone, in pairs or in small or class groups. Formation of groups can be in lines, circles, scattered, in huddles, or in solid group formations.
Children use partner or group techniques such as those outlined below to guide their dance with others:
- following and imitating: follow the leader
- meeting and parting: dancers travel in towards each other and away from each other
- copying: when partners both do the same movements
- contrasting: where the movements of one dancer or group of dancers are contrasted with the movement of another in speed, level, direction, etc.
Planning a creative dance unit of work
The following guide will aid in the planning of a dance unit of work:
- Select a variety of warm-up routines. These should incorporate
- swings, which will include large movements involving the whole body and smaller movements using parts of the body
- isolations and co-ordination of body parts: involves moving individual body parts independently of each other (circling the shoulder or hips) and moving body parts together (bending the elbows and knees, circling the shoulders and head)
- stretching exercises
- travelling steps, including walking, running, skipping and jumping.
- Select the idea or theme for the unit.
- Decide on the stimulus or stimuli. This may be one or more of the following types:
- auditory: music, sounds, words, percussion, poems, stories
- visual: pictures, photographs, designs, sculptures, objects
- tactile: props, objects
- kinaesthetic: movement used as a starting-point for dance.
- Consider ways of developing the theme into a series of lessons. Lessons should involve
- exploring, creating and performing
- individual, partner or group work appropriate to the age of the children
- aspects of the appreciation and understanding of dance to be developed.
- Consider a broad outline of how the dance might develop, remembering that, during the lessons many ideas will emerge which will contribute to this outline.
Exemplar 11 illustrates how a unit of work for a theme may be developed, e.g. the theme of outer space. This unit is planned for implementation over six lessons. The theme is developed beginning with the countdown and take-off of the rocket and its landing on the planet Zor. The poem ‘The Death of the Whirly Gums’ by Elizabeth Powell, photographs (rockets, planets, astronauts, balloons), children’s rocket designs and balloons are used as stimuli for this unit. The dance uses narrative form, as seen in the development of section A, B and C of the dance. It is suitable for use from third to sixth class.
EXEMPLAR 11 - A unit of work in creative dance (third to sixth classes)