In these videos, we see Michelle Rochester – Dance Notes’ Chief Lessons Developer – working with pupils at Newbridge Primary School in Bath. This was carried out over a single morning but represents the progression that would normally be followed over the six-weeks of a Dance Notes scheme. Interspersed with the footage are clips of Michelle describing core concepts and methods that underlie all our plans, as well as some useful tips on getting the best from your pupils.
- Children are naturally excited to show their ideas
- Pick out good examples to show/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
- 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: children are excited to talk about their ideas and explain their individual movements to the class
Working in Pairs
- Encourage use of the whole body; different levels; etc.
- Finding ways to travel in pairs leads to interesting and unusual movements
- Divert the urge to talk into actions
- Recap at regular points, to consolidate ideas,shapes and moves
- Think of the overall picture; encourage 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
- In this example, the class was first split in half (aliens/explorers); then into smaller groups
- Small groups become spaceships: take off – travel – land = beginning – middle – end
- Noises were allowed for this (to help inform the movement) but NOT talking
- Showing individual group work to the rest of the class allows sharing and appreciation
- Children demonstrate collaboration of ideas, physical support and teamwork with little or no instruction
Developing the Dance
- Each week, recap what has been done before
- Try playing the music in the background as they 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
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