Dancers Dance in the Empty Space
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
Goals of the lesson:
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 people’s space?
Materials needed: Open,
empty room or gym, or as I did have the students push all of their desks
against the wall and create a large open space in the classroom.
A sound system, percussion instrument and CDs appropriate for
setting the mood of the movement activities.
I used a CD entitled Contrast & Continuum, Volume II Music
For Creative Dance by Eric Chappelle.
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.
1. Student participation/performance during activities.
2. Teacher observation.
3. Peer review.
Dance vocabulary included in regular spelling and vocabulary
lists, use of proper terminology in written assessment piece.
1. Draw pictures based on their dance ideas and vocabulary.
2. Repeat the movement activities and focus on other elements of dance, such as energy or time.
3. Create a dance in groups of 3,4, or 5 dancers.
Add costumes and sets to their dance and perform it for the
school or parents.
Music, Dance, and
I began the lesson by introducing the vocabulary which I was going to be using throughout the session; self-space, general space, levels in space, directions, size, empty space. I then led the group through the movement activities without music, using a drumbeat as an indicator for change. There was a bit of resistance in the beginning, they requested that I turn out the lights and close the curtains so students on the outside of our room could not see in. Once the mood was set, we began listening to the music. While listening to the first piece, I asked them to close their eyes and move in their self-space. The piece was entitled Whales; the sounds were alternating sections of music with no beat and music in ¾ time. As the students were moving to the selection I encouraged them to think about the music; What does it remind you of? Listen to the sounds, where might you be? My voice was the only voice heard in the classroom.
The next piece was entitled Bee Beat, it was continuous up-tempo music in 4/4 time. The students were asked to use general space, self-space, levels in space and I called out various directions for them to move using the drum as a signal. They loved the fast paced music and there was a bit of noise as they adjusted to not touching each other while moving around the room. We continued using this same format and incorporation size and empty space into the next 6 pieces of music.
Upon completion of the movement activity, we had a large group discussion of the experience. The general consensus was the kids loved it. I then asked them to write their own their thoughts of the three essential questions. The majority of the students wrote thoughtful pieces and they tended to understand the concepts that I was trying to teach.
I felt this lesson was very successful, not only did the students have fun, learn new terminology, and experience music in their bodies, but they were able to cross the barriers of peer pressure and self-conscientious. The changes that I would make to this lesson in the future are:
versus ¾ time. The students were much more engaged with the up beat music.
Making an effort to increase student learning by integrating music will help children gain meaningful context to their lives.