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Lesson One: Jump if you Feel Like It

Unit of Study: Interactive Gateway

Theme: Creating A Community

Sub theme: Circle Dances by Deborah Hay

Grades: 9-12th grade

Materials: CD player and music

The very first day where we working on Deborah Hay circle dances, you were first describing what we were doing, well you know just bouncing wit the music and if I feel like jumping, just go on ahead and then hop, step, step, hop. It sounded so simple to me and I was shocked at how great it felt.

- Missy Bischoff

Brief Description of the Lesson:

Students are introduced to the decade of the 1960s as a distinctive social, political and artistic period. Choreographer, performer and author Deborah Hay is profiled and excerpts of her book, Moving through the Universe in Bare Feet: Ten Circle Dances for Everyone, are shared. Students learn three of Hay's Circle Dances and discuss the communal experience. Students further investigate cooperation through the participation of a series of activities that require group sensitivity. Students then compare 1960s social dances, music, and approaches to movement with todays dance scenes (weddings, raves, proms, etc.). In small groups students then create a Circle Dance reflecting contemporary themes and perform them for the class.


Learning Outcomes:

Upon the completion of the lesson, the students will be able to:

demonstrate a basic knowledge of the 1960s demonstrate an awareness of Postmodern dance and how Circle Dances were used as a creative structure by Deborah Hay, Anna Halprin, and others perform 3 authentic Circle Dances to music build friendships and trust between dancers create their own Circle Dances share their Circle Dances and observe and assess their peers in discussion


The Lesson:


a.) Discussion: Sitting in a circle, the students respond to the following question, What ideas and events do you associate with the 1960s?" Once the students have shared their ideas the teacher may need to fill in missing information. Key ideas:

Vietnam War Civil Rights Movement Space Walk Peace movement demonstrations Assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy Freedom/Liberation Peace Equality

b.) Next, the teacher introduces the choreographers of the Judson Dance Theater by sharing their mandate in breaking the old rules. The old rules included the use of technically trained dancers, proscenium/ formal performance stages, narrative dances/expressionism, and spectacle. The Judson Dance Theater choreographers were more interested in the movement of untrained dancers, alternative spaces for performance, non-narrative dance, and pedestrian task-like non-technical movement. Prompted by the instructor, students offer examples of this from their reading of Three Dances of the 60s, an excerpt from Time and the Dancing Image by Deborah Jowitt (Reading #1).

c.) The students then discuss how the historical associations (listed earlier) may have influenced the Judson Dance Theater choreographers in their choices.

d.) In a lecture, students are introduced to Deborah Hay and her philosophy of dance, as well as her choreographic study creating Circle Dances. Students discuss the handout on Deborah Hays Philosophy of Cellular Consciousness (Appendix B).


Movement Exploration #1: Circle Dances


"Wooden Ships" by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

"Midnight Hour" or "Funky Broadway" by Wilson Pickett

"Let's Stay Together" by Al Green

a.) The instructor leads the students in 3 Circle Dances taken from Moving Through The Universe In Bare Feet: 10 Circle dances for everyone by Deborah Hay and Donna Jean Rogers (Appendix C). The students follow the instructors directives and demonstrations in performing 3 of Deborah Hays Circle Dances to their original music.

b.) Afterwards, the students discuss their reactions to the Circle Dances commenting on their effect on the group.

Movement Exploration #2: Communication Activity

a.) Flocking: Dancers are divided into small groups and put into diamond formations. The students follow the movements of the person at the point in the direction they are facing, much like how birds flock. The lead person will move slowly so that everyone can follow along, being conscious of the direction they are facing. When the dancers turned to face a new direction the leadership role is shifted to the dancer at the point of the new direction. This activity continues until the leadership role has been shifted to all dancers.

b.) Mirroring across floor: Dancers pair off, with one student the leader and the other person the follower. The leader is told to move from low to high levels across the floor, exploring different speeds and moving their bodies in new ways. The aim of this activity is for the students to develop sensitivity to the movement of their partner. The students will, without talking, switch the role of leader and follower. At any point the follower can assert themselves and take over the leadership role.

c.) Partner conversation: Dancers find a new partner and investigate moving with their partner using the principle of action/reaction. Students move across the floor focusing on each other and responding in a conversation of movement while traveling through the space.

Dance Making:

a.) In a small group, students work collaboratively to create their own Circle Dance. The students Circle Dances reflect contemporary values in movement and musical choices.

b.) Each group shares their contemporary Circle Dances and the class provides meaningful feedback to each group.



a.) Student Reflection #1: In their journals, students answer the question Write your own definition of dance.

Assessment Strategies/Related Activities:

In the discussion, were students comments thoughtful and reflective of Three Dances from the 60s (Reading #1)? Did the students performance of Deborah Hays Circle Dances and the communication activities demonstrate group trust and developing friendships? Did the students Circle Dance reflect contemporary dance scene? In Assignment #1, were the students notes on the movies or TV episodes concrete examples of the sixties?


Preparation for this Lesson:

Reading Assignment #1: Three Dances from the Sixties, an excerpt from Time and the Dancing Image by Deborah Hay. Website: Students visit the Interactive Gateway Website. Assignment #1: Students watch a movie (i.e.- Forrest Gump, Platoon, Good Morning Vietnam, Mississippi Burning) or 2-3 episodes of a television show (i.e.- That Seventies Show, American Dream) that is set in the sixties/seventies and take notes. Look for distinctive examples of social, political, style, food, entertainment, music, art aspects.


Lesson Resources:

Deborah Hays Philosophy of Cellular Consciousness, an Interactive Gateway Handout, quoted from Lamb at the Alter written by Deborah Hay (Appendix B Moving Through the Universe in Bare Feet: 10 Circle dances for everyone by Deborah Hay and Donna Jean Rogers (Appendix C)



Homework Assignment #2: Observe an everyday scene for 10 minutes. The scene must include people interacting with each other (i.e. - the grocery store, a restaurant, a park) and record the actions of the people. Reading Assignment #2: For Lesson #2, students read The Dancing, an excerpt from Time and the Dancing Image by Deborah Jowitt.


Banes, Sally. Writing Dancing in the Age of Postmodernism. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 1994.

Foster, Susan Leigh. Reading Dancing. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.

Hay, Deborah. Lamb at the Altar: The Story of a Dance. North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1994.

Hay, Deborah, Donna Jean Rogers. Moving through the Universe in Bare Feet: 10 circle dance of everybody. Chicago: Swallow Press, 1975.

Hay, Deborah. My body, the Buddhist. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 2000.

Jowitt, Deborah. Time and the Dancing Image. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.


Appendix B

Deborah Hays Philosophy of cellular consciousness.

And when the dances disappear

And there is just you

Youll be in touch

Not with the movement of your form in Space

But of the movement of the atoms & molecules of which you are made and that surround you...


Appendix C: Circle Dances 1-3

Circle Dance #1

Music: Wooden Ships by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Everyone Standing in a Circle

Stomach & Knees Relaxed...Feel the Circle

Breathe your arms simultaneously in front of you to overhead and float

them down again to rest your own time.

Feel the Air on your wrists

Under your arms. Every time you raise their armsits new.

Float your arms through Space.....

Everyone in circle

Standing with your hands on hips

Move head from facing right to facing left one time.

A Shaft of Light from your forehead illuminating space before you.

Lighting something youve never seen before.

Holding hands in Circle

Bouncing very gently in the knees

Constant, Even motion

Feel long, wide and relaxed in torso.

Bring air to your waist and spine.

Standing together in a circle holding hands

Step-Kick to rhythm

Be come together through energy.......

Arms at rest--------

Head moves continuously without stopping

Small, slow movements but full of breath

Rest of body is relaxed and still.

Outside of skull sensitive to particles of space around it....

Circle Dance #2

Music: Lets Stay Together by Al Green

In a circle, bouncing in RhythmJump if you feel like it

Everything is Effortless


Holding hands at sides

Knees relaxed and swaying

Step Step Step Hopping

Do your own thing in place

In a big circle, walking in long open strides

Walk into the footsteps of the person just in front of you. . . . .

Circle Dance #3

Music: Funky Broadway or Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett

Running in place in a large circle

If you want to leave your spot and run around the inside of the circle one time

Return to your place on the perimeter before making another circle

Slow Motion Walk

Holding Hands to the Center of the Circle

Follow the leader

Step step step hop

Step step step hop

Travelling in circle

Relaxed and earthward

Follow the leader

Facing in Circle_ Step Step Step Hop

From side to side

Sliding second step over to the first

Place whole foot flat

Down on floor

Knees relaxed_

Energy down

Holding hands, keep Circle as Wide as possible

Step step step hop

Step step step hop

Step step step hop

Step step step hop


Step step step hop

Traveling in Circle

Holding Hands

Steps get gradually smaller

til we are moving in place

begin moving Backward

and reverse the action

until we move forward again___

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