|Grade span:||5 to 12|
|Duration:||Three 45-minute sessions|
Description:In this lesson students learn how a dancer acts out the story with movement instead of words, through watching a video of the ballet Swan Lake. Students are amazed at how the dancer is able to convey her feeling with her body. Explain that dance can tell a story and that, like Odette, they can tell a story with their bodies as well. They have the opportunity to tell a short story of their own through pantomime and movement.
- Understand how a story can be told through dance
- Explore pantomime and movement to tell a story
- Learn about ballet as a means of expression
- Be exposed to one major historical performance of ballet
- Video or live performance of Swan Lake. There are several video performances available. Also, look for an opportunity to see the ballet performed by a local dance company. Given time you can pre-select excerpts for your students to watch, or they can watch the whole performance. Excerpts from the ballet are available on www.youtube.com.
- The Story of Swan Lake (PDF), but you will also find resources in your local library. You can find a synopsis of Swan Lake online at http://aolsvc.pbs.aol.com/wnet/gperf/shows/swanlake/synopsis.html.
- Paper and writing materials
- VCR or DVD player and TV or monitor
- Review Swan Lake story and video.
- Review pantomime techniques.
- Be able to perform a small scene from Swan Lake in pantomime as an example to students.
- Select a part of the ballet video that you can play for students (the whole ballet may be too long, especially for younger students).
What to Do:Session One: Warm Up
- Tell students that you are going to "speak" to them without using any words. You will point to one of them and ask them to translate into words what you are doing. For example, pretend to cry, point to student. A student might say "I'm sad" in response. You can do angry, frustrated, happy, excited, etc.
- Next, tell them you are going to pretend to "do" something, and again they guess what you are doing. You might sweep the floor; wash your face; drive a car, etc. Again, ask students to tell you what you are doing by pointing to a student to talk.
- Explain that this is called "pantomime" and that it is one way to communicate without using words. Instead you use your face and body to express the words.
- Give the students a turn at pantomime. Have them walk about the room as if they are at the mall. Prompt them to:
- Stop and look closely at something in a store window
- Try on an article of clothing that they like
- Meet and greet a friend
- Loose something and try to find it
- Complain to a friend or relative that they are taking too long and you want to go home
- Initiate a discussion about what they did and how they expressed their feelings in the movements.
- Tell students that many dancers tell stories with their bodies and movements. Especially for younger students, read or have them read a library book (with pictures) about the story of Swan Lake, or give them the handout and have them read it aloud.
- After you read the story, tell them that you are going to act out a part of it through pantomime. Can they tell you what part it is? Choose a scene that is expressive but easy for you.
- Play the part of the Swan Lake video that you have selected. Look for a section that is a good example of the dancer or dancers expressing their characters. Ask the students what they see happening. Also ask:
- How did the dancers' movements help to show you what was happening in the story?
- How did the music help with the expression of feeling and movement?
- How were the dance movements different from your pantomime in class? What did you like best about the dancers and the video?
- Tell them that it is their turn to recreate a scene. In small groups, select a part of the story and work together to re-create it in pantomime and movement. Students may select roles based on the scene they select.
- Possible roles: Prince Siegfried, His mother the Queen, the evil Rothbart, Odette the Queen of the Swans, Rothbart's daughter Odile, and the Swan Maidens.
- Students demonstrate their scenes.
- In this session, students are asked to either write a short story or scene, or find a story or fairy tale scene that they like. Once they have their stories, they can interpret them with pantomime and movement, as in Swan Lake. Students can work alone or in pairs to do this.
- The first part of the session can be devoted to developing the story or scene; the second part to practicing and performing. In the last part of the class, students perform their stories for other students and the students have to tell them what the story is.
Evaluate (Outcomes to look for):
- Student participation and engagement
- Students' understanding of ballet as an art form
- Students' ability to interpret visual media
- Students' ability to translate a story to mime or movement