Lesson Five: Life is a Game

Unit of Study: Interactive Gateway

Theme: Redefining Dance To Include Athletic Structures

Sub theme: Conflict of Struggle and Peace

Grades: 9-12th grade

Materials: CD player and music, sports photos, Twister

What I think I have learned the most about the post modern time is that everyone was invited. That it wasn’t just about dancers or ballerinas of you know these people who have al the experience, but it was the everyday person, that does everyday things.

- Lona Lee

Brief Description of the Lesson:

This workshops focus is to familiarize students with the Postmodern choreographic methods of creating dances from sports and game structures. Students investigate customary movements associated with sports such as baseball and basketball (swing, toss, and pass), as well as explore inventive ways to abstract sports movement. Drawing from real sports each group formulates a new sport and creates a new Sports Dance. Following the Sports Dance the class explores the use of game structures used as choreographic approaches in the dance making process. The class examines themes of struggle, which defines the 1960s and includes the issues of Feminism, Vietnam, and Civil Rights.

Learning Outcomes:

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

identify the characteristics and strategies involved in sports and game structures employ sports and game structures as choreographic tools share their Sports Dances with the class and observe and assess their peers create movement studies based on the metaphor of struggle


The Lesson:


a.) Discussion: Students discuss Everyday Bodies (Reading #5), an excerpt from Time and the Dancing Image by Deborah Jowitt. The instructor then discusses how Judson Dance Theater choreographers were particularly interested in athletes bodies and movements. Through the reading of a handout, the instructor introduces the methods of sports and game structures used as choreographic approaches in the 1960s. (Appendix F).

b.) Baseball and basketball: The class forms a circle and executes imitative movement based on sports. The instructor begins by instructing the students to focus on baseball. Students close their eyes and envision what the game of baseball looks like, the movement qualities, the shapes, the level and speed of both the pitcher and hitter. Once the students have visualized, the instructor executes a baseball movement (i.e.-swing, throw, pitch, and catch) and the class echoes the movement. Then moving around the circle, students perform a different baseball movement and the class mimics it. This continues about half way around the class. Then, the students repeat the visualization activity thinking about the game of basketball and the activity continues around the circle this time performing basketball movements (i.e.-dribble, shoot, pass, and slam dunk).

c.) Abstraction: The class performs the sports movements again and are encouraged to abstract the movement either by using a different body part, or performing the action with a different rhythm, or changing the spatial relationship of the movement by making it either much larger or much smaller.

Movement Exploration #1: Sports Dances:

a.) Sports Study: The class is divided into three groups. In their groups, students share their homework assignment (to bring in a sports photo). Each group analyzes their sports photos using the following guidelines (Appendix G):

essential movement dynamics and the structure of the event how the group connects/interacts use of space (court, field, park, diamond, etc.), use of objects (ball, bat, club, etc.)

Based on their analysis of the sports photo, each group creates a new inventive, imaginary sport.

b.) Sports Dance Sharing: Each group shares their dance study with the class. After the sharing, the students compare the studies in a discussion.

Movement Exploration #2: Game Structures: Twister the game of Struggle:

a.) Twister Demo: The class examines the game Twister. Then the class divides into small groups and writes about the characteristics and strategies involved in the game Twister. The class discusses these characteristics and how they could be used as a metaphor for struggle in the 1960s.

b.) Twister Demo in Small Groups: In small groups, students investigate Twister as a metaphor for struggle in the issues of: Feminism, Vietnam, or Civil Rights. Each group makes a list of political events and quotes related to their topic (i.e.- love not war, down with the draft, peace). The students are asked to consider the opposing conflicts that create the struggle. The students create an issue dance based on their list. The dances must include:

a conflict that develops elements of opposition shapes and movement that represents struggle an ending, either a resolution or confrontation

c.) Twister Sharing: Each group shares their Twister dance with the class and each group explains how they connected their topic with the game structure.


a.) In a discussion led by the instructor, the students reflect on how the sports dances and game structures open up new possibilities in dance.

b.) Student Reflection #5: Students answer the following question, Discuss the process of working with sports movement and game structures as a basis for both choreography and performance.

Assessment Strategies:

Did the students use the analysis of their sports photo to create an abstracted Sports Dance? Were students able to create a dance as a metaphor for struggle? Did the students journal writing reflect their experience of dance generated from game structures and did they discuss how this opens new possibilities in choreography?

Preparation for this Lesson:

Reading Assignment #5: Students read Everyday Bodies, an excerpt from Time and the Dancing Image by Deborah Jowitt. Students turn in Assignment #6.

Lesson Resources:

Sports Movement and Game Structures, an Interactive Gateway handout (Appendix F) Sports Worksheet (Appendix G)


Homework Assignment #6: For Lesson #6, students read the historic timeline on the Interactive Gateway Website.


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

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


Appendix G: Sports Choreographic Study

Name Your Sport:

Complimentary Opposition


1. What are the essential movements of your sport?

2. What are the dynamics of the sport and the structure of the event?

3. How do the players connect and interact?

4. What is location and formation of space? (court, field, park, diamond, etc.)

5. What objects are used and how are they used? (ball, bat, club, etc.)