This week’s strategy focus will be on dance. If you have any strategies that you’d like to share, please add to the discussion – we’d all like to hear!
Dance is something that almost all children are born with because it’s a way to express their feelings when they haven’t built up a strong enough verbal bank to communicate in any other way. However, we adults tend to shy away from it because we feel awkward or silly using our bodies as communication tools. By being open to using our body as a way to express thoughts, ideas and feelings, we provide important skills that can be translated within more “traditional” tools.
Dancing through Sound
Today’s dance strategy is based in an old Dalcroze method that uses sound to provide a springboard for creativity and interpretation. By using their bodies to communicate what the sound “feels” like, students are engaging in multiple skills at the same time. First, they must hear the sound and make a judgment as to its meaning for them. High could mean naive whereas low could mean menacing.
Second, they must take the meaning of that sound and translate it into something that their body can demonstrate. Third, they must move so that they are accurately depicting their ideas and feelings through a tool that does not use words and synthesize all of that knowledge into one act of motion.
Here are the Steps:
1. Choose a piece of music that is very expressive OR choose a series of sounds (like a sound effect CD).
2. Ask students to listen to a piece of the chosen music/sound. Advise them that as they are listening, they should be thinking about one word that captures the meaning of that sound.
3. Tell students that you will play the music/sound again and that this time, they should move so that their bodies demonstrate the word they chose for that sound.
4. Play the next segment of music/sound. Repeat steps 2 and 3.
5. Tell students that you are going to play the 1st and 2nd segments together this time and they must dance their 2 word sequence.
6. Continue this process until students have sequenced a dance of between 5 and 15 sounds.
7. Ask students to volunteer to share their dances for the class.
This is a very process-based experience, but the performance at the end is critical. Students can share their personal interpretations of the sounds and compare/contrast their work with others. They also have the ability to then practice critique skills using inquiry (why did you choose that motion? What were you thinking of when you heard that sound?) and it provides a safe place to share what they are noticing.
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.