Dancing with D'Arts - 5. Creating a dance program - Who are we?

Duration: 8:31

Transcript – Dancing with D'Arts - 5. Creating a dance program - Who are we?

[music playing]

WENDY WILLIAMS: I think sometimes too for our kids to step up and do what they can do as opposed to be involved in items which really-- that really highlight what they can't do, too often kids with disabilities are put on the end of another item. And it just shows what they can't do. Whereas we need to develop opportunities and performances that says, we can do this. This is what we can do as opposed to really highlighting what we can't for all kids with disabilities.

VIRGINIA FERRIS: What do you need to create a dance program? This unit will focus on building a dance program aimed at primary or secondary students. So where to start? First of all, we need to find a stimulus.

These are ideas. That could come from music or stories, words, thoughts, feelings, what's happening today, your environment, or even discussions. Often students have a fascination or a passion for something, maybe a cartoon character or a video game, TV show, movie. A story dance can be developed from some history, for example, the dinosaur age.

Gather as many references as you can from the students. These could be from drawings, cutouts, images, or internet reference about the dance project. Next thing is the music.

Often I use soundtracks, which are the best source when creating a dance piece for the class or performance. Sometimes students have their own music they really respond to. And this is a good way to start. But then add some other types of music for variety or dynamics. Don't forget to look at the resources to get more ideas for effective choreography.

After discussion comes the warm-up. Use a game from the previous unit to excite and stimulate the students. Warming up includes social skills of reintroducing movement memory to the students, meeting, and being aware of the space in which you're dancing. It also triggers off the brain into action movement and using different body actions to learn and control when to stop and start.

Okay, so now it's time to choose music, story and a theme. Sometimes if I have a theme, say, for example, dinosaurs, then I would google the word, see what comes up, for example, a story about dinosaur bones out in the middle of Australia. Maybe I would look at choosing a movie or an image from the internet or a television show to actually use that for my stimulus.

Music is a fabulous tool to set the scene, some slow and some chill out styles as well as some popular 4/4 beats with or without words. Each week, I try and choose different sorts of music to try it on for size as stimulus. This may reflect on the students' choice or something needed to explore for schoolwork or emotional reasons. Remember, dance and other arts activities can trigger off different reactions for students with and without a disability. Students can be in the moment and feel scared or happy or threatened.

And now we're looking at planning and creating a dance program. Program setting aside a task each week plus a warm-up and maybe a discussion. Choose maybe 5 or 6 different themes over a 12-week period.

Other staff members can be the owner of different tasks. They can resource the music and costumes. I always revisit a warm-up and a creative task each week and always leave extra weeks spare to refine and rehearse the movement, adding the costumes and, finally, props.

Looking at performance and evaluation, so make sure to set the time limit for the performance. Allow more time than you really think you need to create. Have a small preview show to a smaller group of friends or other students. Take time for evaluation and reflection with the students. Maybe video or photograph the rehearsal, the performance, and then play this back to the students.

This next dance task is about, who are you? The students are often the best people to tell you about who they are and where they've come from. Often people with a disability have others helping them, voicing for them, or stepping in for them when they are struggling. Sometimes students with a disability want to have their own voice, which, ironically, can be told through movements with this task.

This is a dance about yourself using mime, literal movement and abstract movement. Okay, we're going to start by using a body part to spell your name, perhaps on a low level.

That's my movement. What's your movement, do you think, Patrick, for your name, Patrick?

PATRICK: I dunno. Pssh!

VIRGINIA FERRIS: Oh, nice, Patrick. Pssh! Patrick, cool.

Cool, Phil, cool. What's your name?

STUDENT 1: Psshht!

VIRGINIA FERRIS: Oh, cool, very nice. What's your name?

STUDENT 2: (whispering) She asked you something.

STUDENT 3: [vocalises]


Stacy, Stacy, do you have a sign, a sign name that other people call you? Show me Stacy's name. That's Stacy. Who's name? Chris' name. Nice.

What are you going to do? Oh, Elizabeth, oh, I love that. Can we copy Elizabeth? Go. Elizabeth.

So we're changing our name and our movement. Go again, Elizabeth. Oh, I love that. That's fantastic, Elizabeth.

Follow this by using a body part to describe where you live, maybe some simple shapes to suggest a house with a door or a roof. That's Chris' shape where she lives. Oh, wow, look at that's an interesting shape, it's a very strong-looking place where Chris lives, isn't it?

[interposing voices]

Yours is a tall building. I can see lots of tall buildings.

After that, maybe using a body part or the whole body to imitate maybe a favourite animal.

Can you show me your-- your fox movement and make it really small? Show me. Good, very nice, that's a very nice-- show me your favourite animal. No, you show me. You ready? Everyone is going to show me? Very small movements, small movement.

[students make animal noises]

Your favourite animal and freeze. Other additions are a favourite hobby or a position or a shape to show off your personality.

A shape of what you really love to do. So I love to-- you know what I love to do? I love to travel. That's my shape. I'm going to do the shape of the plane to say I love to travel.

Show me what you-- everybody, ready? And what do you love to do? Go.

[students chattering]

Repeat this again, but maybe on another level.

Now I'm on this level. I'm might want to take it a bit further. I might want to go as my name. Yeah? I'm going to add a bit more of a bigger movement. See if you can add a bit more of a bigger movement. Are we ready? Have a go with your name. Go! Nice.

Link the name, where you live with the animal and then put this into a sentence maybe as an abstract sentence called a dance phrase. Do this with music.

[energetic music playing]

Good! Your favourite animal.

[student hissing]

What you love to do.

[students chattering]

Your name. Where you live. Favourite animal.

Do the dance using other friends' names, other houses. Remember that sometimes only doing 2 words such as the name of the place is enough to start with and then build on this. As a variation, you may want to add where you go to school, your favourite food, what you love most. In the next session, we'll continue exploring ideas for your dance program.

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