top of page

Lesson Two: A Closer Look

Unit of Study: Interactive Gateway

Theme: Redefining dance

Sub theme: Everyday Dances

Grades: 9-12th grade

Materials: CD player and music

“I think something that will always stick in my mind was the exercise where we had to stare at each other for long as we could without moving. It made me look at things in a different way. I often find myself staring out the window or looking at a tree and I think I look at it completely different now because I notice the little minor details that I didn’t notice.”

- Sarah Ventre

Brief Description of the Lesson:

Students learn to find dance in everyday life by observing an ordinary scene at their school (i.e.-people working at a desk, studying, or eating lunch) looking for the elements of design, dynamics, spatial elements, and music. With this information the students create an everyday dance. To conclude the lesson, students reflect on how looking closer at every day movement challenges their definition of dance.

Learning Outcomes:

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

analyze every day movement in school and describe what is seen create a dance based on their observations define and demonstrate everyday movements and everyday dances" re-define dance and address how analysis of everyday movement challenges preconceived notions of dance

The Lesson:


a.) Discussion: The students are asked to define dance and identify its elements. The instructor explains how the Judson Dance Theater choreographers found their inspiration through observations of life. Furthermore they were interested in re-defining dance to include everyday movement of all people. Students offer examples of this from the reading of The Dancing, an excerpt from Time and the Dancing Image by Deborah Jowitt (Reading #2).

Observation: Everyday Dances

a.) Students divide into small groups and look around the school in search of a "dance," for example: students waiting in line, students looking for a book in a library, or pedestrians walking by. Students watch the dance for at least 5 minutes. Each student in the group takes notes addressing a different aspect of the performance such as the physical shapes that were made, the use of the space, the movement, the dynamics, the design elements, and the music. Each group is given an Everyday Worksheet (Appendix D) to help guide the students in the recording of their observations.

Dance Making

a.) Each student observer shares their analysis with their group. One member compiles a group observation list for later discussion and dance making.

b.) Students create an Everyday Dance based on the group observation list. The guidelines for the Everyday Dances include:

2-3 dynamics changes at least 8 everyday movements elements of repetition and rhythmic patterning at least 5 different group formations a clear beginning, middle and end a developing theme


a.) Students share their Everyday Dances for the class. After each showing students reflect on the groups performance, dance choices, and the theme.

Movement Exploration #1:

a.) Call and Response: The class divides into small groups of 4-5 and arrange in lines.

Part 1: Students line up facing the back of the person in front of them. The first person turns to the second and makes eye contact. Once the second feels they have made adequate (approximately 2 minutes) eye contact they turn to the third person. This repeats on down the line. Part 2: The first person turns to the second and performs an everyday movement that the second then copies back. Next, the second student turns to the third and performs a different everyday movement that the third person then copies back. This repeats on down the line.


Closure/ Reflection:

a.) Student Reflection #2: Students answer the following question, Has todays lesson, changed your perception and/or feeling about dance? How?


Assessment Strategies/Related Activities:

Did the students Everyday Dances reflect their observations of everyday activities? Did the students dance making demonstrate the students ability to find, describe, analyze, and perform an "everyday dance" with everyday movement? In their journals, did the students reflect upon their Everyday Dances and how they challenged their definition of dance?


Preparation for this Lesson:

Reading Assignment #2: The Dancing, an excerpt from Time and the Dancing Image by Deborah Jowitt. Students turn in Homework Assignment #2.


Lesson Resources:

Everyday Dances Worksheet (Appendix D)



Homework Assignment #3: For Lesson #3, bring in a dice and a pedestrian movement (i.e.-scratching, or tying a shoe, or picking up something). Reading Assignment #3: For Lesson #3, students read Merce Cunningham and Chance Methods, Interactive Gateway handout.



Adshead-Lansdale, Janet. Choreography: Principles and Practice. Guildford: University of Surrey: National Resource Centre for Dance, 1987.

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



With your group find a location where people are congregated. Watch the people in this location for 10 minutes.

Individually take notes about what you see - these notes will be compiled when you return to the class. Look carefully and closely and provide as much detail as possible. Consider the following:

What dance elements do you see?

How is the body used?

Describe the performance area.

What types of movements are used?

Identify the movement qualities.

What do you notice about the lights, costumes, and props? Is there any accompaniment or music? What does it sound like?

Compare notes with your group.

bottom of page