Dancers in the Empty Space (6-8)



Learner Description:

North Middle School is in the heart of downtown Everett, Washington. At North, 55% of the student population qualify for free or reduced cost lunch (one of the criteria used by the United States government to determine relative poverty levels), and 58% live in single parent homes. In addition, 25% of our student population is designated as English Language Learners (ELL). Our largest percent of our ELL students come from Iraq and Bosnia, with a small percentage from Vietnam. Therefore, the majority of our whole student population is Caucasian. We also find the majority of our students live in low-income housing.

            The mission statement of the Everett Public Schools is as follows:

The staff, families, and community members of the Everett School District are committed to academic excellence and ensuring that every student acquires the skills and knowledge needed to thrive as a lifelong learner and responsible citizen in a changing world.

The mission statement at North Middle School is as follows:

Our mission at North Middle School is to provide a safe, positive environment in which to grow that is characterized by high expectations regarding performance and behavior, respect for individual diversity, and a community of involved students, caring staff, and supportive parents.

I feel everyone at North believes in our mission statement, we respect individual diversity among our students and create a safe, positive environment with high expectations.

Purpose or Vision Statement:

The Art Science Middle School (ASMS), a school-within-a- school, which serves 180 students in grades 6 through 8, 60 students per grade level. Our program encompasses one fifth of the schools total population. ASMS is a comprehensive, hands-on project based learning program utilizing the Fine Arts as a thread, which connects all core subjects. Real world experiences are integrated into the program through enrichment activities within and outside of the classroom. Through creative movement activities students will use the elements of dance for artistic expression that will help them make a connection between the inner self and the language of movement. Creative movement will be used as a helper to drive the core curriculum. Using the kinesthetic approach of creative dance, students will learn about their body and inner self, the entire child will grow.

Learning Objectives:


      Through repetition of experiences the connections between brain cells will strengthen, become stable and build the childs brain.

      Using sensory-motor development, the use of the sense organs and the coordination of muscles and body parts, will increase language acquisition.


      Increased self-image, self-awareness, and self-direction will be accomplished through movement and creative dance.

      The student will learn to appreciate movement and music with joy and involvement.


      Interpersonal and intra-personal skills will be increased dancing with partners, trios and small groups

      A sense of community will be created in the classroom through movement.


      Body: Still body shapes and movement

      Space: self-space, general space, levels, directions, and size.

  Dancers Dance in the Empty Space

Creative Dance

Beginning to Intermediate

Four sessions

45-60 minutes each


Description of lesson:

Students learn how to recognize and use empty space for movement exploration: creating still body shapes, moving in the empty space, and interacting with each other. Students will then discuss the experience and answer the three essential questions posed by the teacher.

Goals of the lesson:  

Students will:

  1. Learn the skills and abilities to use the empty space.
  2. Know the vocabulary used to describe the element of space: self-space, general space, levels, directions, and size.
  3. Evaluate their experience with music and dance in written form answering these essential questions:

a)      How do we use space to move?

b)     How do we describe it?

c)      How do we recognize and respect other peoples space?

Materials needed:

Open, empty room or gym. A sound system, percussion instruments and CDs appropriate for setting the mood of the movement activities. (Eric Chappelle, Contrast & Continuum, Volume II Music For Creative Dance)

Assessment Criteria:  

Students will:

  1. Move, interact, and freeze without touching anyone or anything.
  2. Physically demonstrate the correct dance vocabulary for space. (self-space, general space, levels in space, directions, size, empty (negative) space.)
  3. Use appropriate vocabulary in discussions and writings about the dance activities.

Assessment Strategies:

  1. Student participation/performance during activities.
  2. Teacher observation.
  3. Dance vocabulary included in regular spelling and vocabulary lists, use of proper terminology in written assessment piece.


Have students:

  1. Draw pictures based on their dance ideas and vocabulary.
  2. Repeat the movement activities and focus on other elements of dance, such as force and time.
  3. Create a dance in groups of 3,4, or 5 dancers.
  4. Add costumes and sets to their dance and perform it for the school or parents.

Integration: Dance, music, and language arts

What the instructor does:

  1. Introduces the vocabulary to be used in the sessions.
  2. Leads the students through the movement activities: mirroring, quick shapes, shaping six directions, move in general space, decreasing space, shadowing, connect without touching, dance in the empty space, group shapes.
  3. Encourages the students to explore and create using the empty space in new ways 9without bumping or touching anyone or anything) using the vocabulary for space.
  4. Leads the students in follow-up discussions about what they observed, how they felt, and what they learned.
  5. Checks for prior knowledge regarding use of dance movement, vocabulary, use of space, etc. 

What the student does:

  1. Participates in the movement activities: mirroring, quick shapes, shaping, move in general space, decreasing space, shadowing, connect without touching, dance in the empty space, and group shapes.
  2. Explores, experiences, and creates with the body in the empty space, relating to the dance vocabulary for space.
  3. Participate in-group discussions about the movement sessions.
  4. Creates and performs a dance study with classmates.
  5. Reviews the experience with teacher and peers.

Demonstration and/or Evidence of Student Learning:

Students will successfully create and share a movement piece based on an area of their curricular studies using empty space for shaping and moving.





















































Making an effort to increase student learning by integrating  movement will help children gain meaningful context to their lives.