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Teacher: Sarena Fuller who teaches at Patton High School in Morganton, NC. Sarena Fuller can be contacted at

Name of Best Practice: Life Imitating Art & Art Imitating Life Dance Unit

Rationale/Purpose of Event: Through participation in this unit, students will explore science, history, english, and art through dance and movement concepts. It is a great unit for interdisciplinary reinforcement for core subject testing.

Suggested Grade Level: 9-12

Materials Needed: Resource books on body systems, Resource books on history, Resource books on art, Literature books, Camera

Life Imitating Art & Art Imitating Life Dance Unit

This is a five part dance and movement unit that explores the elements of dance through science, history, english, and art.

1. Elements of Dance - On the first day of this unit, students are introduced to the five components of dance: space, movement, body, time, energy. They explore within these components movements related to locomotor/nonlocomotor skills, open/closed focus, strong/light energy, etc. In this class, a variety of music is played, and students are cued in the ways they should move. Frequently recognize students who are doing an exceptional job.

2. History - Divide the students into groups, and give each group an Elements review card (which identifies the elements of dance and each component). Assign each group a historical event such as the Boston Tea Party, Moon Landing, Wright Brothers first flight, etc. Give them time in class to research and plan a movement piece that depicts the event and incorporates all elements of dance. Have them perform the dance for the class, and ask the class to guess the event, like charades. In closure, have the group give the historical context and background of the event.

3. Science - A much more abstract use of the elements of dance is the application through science. Assign groups a body system (digestive, cardiovascular, nervous, muscular, skeletal...) and have them research the physiology of that system. They should perform a movement piece that accurately portrays the function of that system. Again, the group should explain the body system to the class before, or after the performance.

4. English - Find out what books your students will be or have been reading in class. Pick scenes from the book and have groups reinact the scenes, focusing on the elements of dance. Since there is no talking permitted, dialogue should be communicated through facial expressions, energy, and body movements.

5. Art - This has been the students favorite part of the unit!!! One element of dance is time, but where there is also fast, medium, and slow time, there is also no time. Discuss with student how frozen poses can communicate sometimes as much as a movement piece ("A Picture is Worth a thousand words). Have students in pairs or groups of three and have them look through art books to pick two or three works of art that appeal to them. (I always make them pick at least one abstract piece.) They should recreate that piece, or their interpretation of that piece. Pick the art one day, and present the next day, encouraging them to dress to reflect their art. On performance day, photograph them to later display beside the original art pieces.

**My students have loved this unit and have asked to do more art and history pieces!

Teaching Suggestions/Tips:

Invite the English, Science, Art, or History teachers or class to watch your presentations, or take your show on the road to visit each class.

The first day is crucial in developing student confidence in a variety of movement patterns. If you have a shy group, play a mix of music in the background, and allow the students to experiment with movements in small groups of their peers. The students will be as excited as you are about the unit, so don't be afraid to cut loose and be a bit crazy with them.

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Posted on PEC: 10/12/2008 and has received 111 votes.

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