Welcome to the Dance Notes video tutorials. Watch Dance Notes’ Lessons Developer Michelle Rochester as she works with pupils at Newbridge Primary School in Bath.
The Dance Notes Scheme in Action
Together, Michelle and the pupils work through the progression of a Dance Notes lesson scheme. In this case, they did this over the course of a single morning. The material covered would normally span six-weeks of teaching.
We have also included clips of Michelle describing core concepts and methods that underlie all our plans . And she gives some useful tips on getting the best from your pupils.
Tutorial 1; Intro/Warm Up
- The children are naturally excited to show their ideas.
- Pick out good examples to show and model.
- Encourage pupils to value all interpretations – there is no ‘wrong’.
- Note how the energy increases as the music is added to support pupils’ movement ideas.
- Children are naturally excited to work together in groups.
Tutorial 2; Individual Exploration
- In this example, pupils were engaged by the fact they could create their ‘own planet’ (giving them ownership of their work).
- Encourage individual exploration. If children follow or copy one another, this is OK – provided it aids confidence to then explore further.
- Discourage talking, to allow focus during movement. Allow discussion in between. The children are excited to talk about their ideas and explain their individual movements to the class.
Tutorial 3; Working in Pairs
- Encourage use of the whole body; different levels; etc.
- Finding ways to travel in pairs leads to interesting and unusual movement.
- Divert the pupils’ urge to talk into actions.
- Recap at regular points, to consolidate the children’s ideas,shapes and moves.
- Think of the overall picture; encourage a variety of shapes, levels, speeds, etc.
- Ask pupils: ‘what could happen next?’ (even when you already have a plan for this) – to give them ownership of their ideas.
Tutorial 4; Group Work
- In this example, the class was first split in half (aliens/explorers); then into smaller groups.
- The small groups then become spaceships. The take off, travel and land structure provides the phrase with a beginning, middle and end.
- Noises were allowed for this segment (to help inform the movement) but NOT talking.
- Show individual group work to the rest of the class to allow sharing and appreciation.
- The children demonstrate: collaboration of ideas; physical support and teamwork. This happens naturally, with little or no instruction from the teacher.
Tutorial 5; Developing the Dance
- Each week, recap what has been done before.
- Try playing the music in the background as the pupils talk through the recap. This helps to create and maintain the atmosphere.
- Encourage clarity and definition as ideas and moves are repeated and refined.
- Introduce canon, so different groups are highlighted at different points within the dance.
- Keep asking for feedback and ideas: “What do YOU think?”; “How does this look?”; etc.
- It’s always OK to try things out – they may not always work!
- Encourage group decisions, collaboration and support.
- Look for clarity of start/finish positions (tableaux).
- It’s great to incorporate pupils’ ideas structurally: e.g. one pupil suggested the rockets could land to begin the dance (before exploring the planet and meeting the aliens).
- As the dance progresses, pupils become more invested and increasingly develop THEIR vision for the whole piece.
Tutorial 6; Rehearse & Perform
- Having worked through the sections over the weeks, together with the music, pupils naturally respond to the music cues (e.g. one track changing to the next*) without prompting.
- Keep reinforcing the need to hold freezes and keep definition – and – NO TALKING.
- “Back on Earth, do whatever you feel like” – moments of unexpected freedom can be very useful and a reward for pupils’ focus and commitment.
*Fade the music out at as a section comes to an end, then start or fade in the next track as required.The length of music needed will vary from one performance to another, which is OK.
The lesson used here was ‘Outer Space’ (Key Stage 2) but the processes displayed and discussed are relevant to all Dance Notes plans. Moreover,as Michelle explains, it is not necessary to stick rigidly to the individual steps provided within a scheme, provided the progression is followed. The key thing to remember is that the work is derived from pupils’ own ideas and impulses.During these videos, Michelle does not ‘show’ or ‘teach’ any specific moves,rather she guides and encourages the pupils in developing their own material.
The bullet points listed under each video are observations made as Michelle led the sessions. Some highlight things that she did or said innately that may not be so obvious to the novice teacher. Others reiterate comments made during the interview that are key to positive outcomes. And there are also some reflections on how pupils responded to the stimuli provided.
Thank You for Watching
We hope that these videos will be helpful to all and, in particular, those who may feel inexperienced or less confident in facilitating dance work. The main thing is that both you and your pupils enjoy the process. There is much to be gained from the creative thinking, collaboration, mutual support and individual expression this subject allows. Have a go… and have fun!
Any Question or Comments?
Please get in touch via the contact page.
- Camera, Sound & Editing: Martin Tompkins
- Music: Brian Madigan
- Lesson Creator & Facilitator: Michelle Rochester
- Pupils: Year 4, Newbridge Primary School, Bath
- Teacher: Jim Cumpson
- Filmed at Newbridge Primary School, May 2018