After completing all introductory activities, have the students view GREAT PERFORMANCES' DANCE IN AMERICA: BORN TO BE WILD: THE LEADING AMERICAN MEN OF AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE. Be sure to download and copy all organizers for the students prior to beginning work on the activities. In addition, be sure to preview the video, double-check in advance that Internet access is functional, and verify that the sites listed in the "Bookmarked Sites" section are accessible to and appropriate for the students.
GREAT PERFORMANCES' DANCE IN AMERICA: BORN TO BE WILD: THE LEADING MEN OF AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE
- Modem: 56.6 kbps or faster
- Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above
- Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz): Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM
- Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM
- Software: Microsoft Office; Illustrator or other drawing program
Information about Jose Manuel Carreño:
Information about Angel Corrella:
Information about Ethan Stiefel:
Information about Vladimir Malakhov:
American Ballet Theatre
American Ballet Theatre: Leadership: Kevin McKenzie and Elizabeth Kehler
American Ballet Theatre: Education & Training: Make a Ballet
American Ballet Theatre: Library: Ballet Dictionary
The State Academic Bolshoi Theatre
Information about Mark Morris and the Mark Morris Dance Group:
Information about Ballet/Modern Dance:
Information about local arts/dance education in your community:
Students will need the following supplies:
A copy of each organizer handout
A journal (either paper or digital)
Handouts of Web resources if there are not enough computers available
It is advisable that the students view DANCE IN AMERICA: BORN TO BE WILD after completing a number of the introductory activities, which will prepare the students for the main activities that follow.
1. Brainstorm with your class about the concept of dance and ask them to verbally "shout out" everything they know about dance. Write the students' comments on a blackboard or whiteboard so that everyone can see them. To encourage student thinking, prompt them by asking the following questions:
When the blackboard is full, inform your class that this unit of study will be about ballet dance and circle the most relevant terms on the board.
- What do you think of when someone says the word "dance"?
- What kinds of dance are there?
- Which dancers do you know?
- What are the elements of dance?
- What is needed for dance to take place?
2. Distribute Organizer #1 and read over the Elements of Movement with the students, allowing time for their questions. Break your class into five groups and assign each group to one element of movement. Ask them to spend 20 minutes working with one another to demonstrate (physically) each listed component of their assigned element. Tell them that they will need to ask at least one person in their group to present each component to the class. The last two categories (dynamics, relationship) are more difficult to comprehend, so you may want to purposely assign students who may better be able to handle the concepts to these groups. Be sure to circulate around the room so that groups who are having difficulty can ask questions of you.
The Elements of Movement are:
Do not make any group larger than five students. If your class exceeds 25, create duplicate groups.
(Note to Teachers: Most of the elements are self-explanatory, but some specific examples follow:)
If the students have trouble taking this activity seriously, explain that the alternative method of understanding these terms is a traditional test.
- body: An example of an isolated body movement (gesture) would be a wave of the arm. An example of an "on-the-spot movement" would be a twirl, keeping one's feet in the same place.
- space: An example of "level" would be kneeling; an example of a vertical "plane" would be holding one's body standing straight while performing a movement; an example of a horizontal space would be holding one's body bent over.
- time: An example of rhythm in music would be clapping or tapping to a 1-2-3 beat with an emphasis (accent) on the third beat.
- dynamics: An example of a suspended "flow" would be any sustained movement that stops.
- relationship: An example of a mirroring interaction is just what it sounds like -- two dancers moving in the same manner while facing each other.
Ask each group to provide a quick demonstration of the components of their movement element. The presentation should not exceed 5-10 minutes per group. Tell the students that they must take notes on each group's presentation because they will be quizzed on the meaning of these elements.
3. (optional) Hand out Organizer #2 to your students, review the vocabulary terms, and explain any they do not understand. Ask the students to break into groups of two to study the terms and prepare for a vocabulary quiz to be given the next day. Students may opt to help one another with various memory techniques or quiz one another on the terms.
In the next class, pick 8 to 10 of the vocabulary terms at random and ask the students to define them in their own words without using notes. Also include on your quiz a few of the Elements of Movement, asking the students to describe in writing what constitutes each element. Alternatively, you might want to quiz the students orally to generate discussion and to ensure that they've learned the key terms.
Each learning activity assumes that the introductory activities have been completed in advance. Before beginning any of the activities, be sure to explain the evaluation/assessment plan as it is outlined in Organizer #8.
Activity 1: Viewing and Responding to DANCE IN AMERICA: BORN TO BE WILD.
1. Show the video DANCE IN AMERICA: BORN TO BE WILD: THE LEADING MEN OF AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE. Explain to the students that they will be expected to keep the terms and elements of movement in mind while viewing the video. Tell them that they are to take two kinds of notes during the viewing, using Organizer #3: notes on their reactions and descriptions of what they see. Discuss the difference between recording facts and reactions if you think such a minilesson is necessary.
Activity 2: Researching DANCE IN AMERICA
2. During the early portion of the video, stop at all or some of the following points to illustrate the various examples cited below, so that the students will have a better idea what to take notes on. Begin by prompting the students to "guess" at the answers to the questions while referring to Organizer #1. If they have difficulty, ask the questions and then answer them until the students begin to grasp the concepts and are able to answer for themselves. Tell the students that they should try to write down an example of each Element of Movement (on Organizer #1) if they can.
Stopping Point #1: about four minutes into the video, during the first dance rehearsal section
ASK: What movement elements do you see here?
Stopping Point #2: about six minutes into the video, during the Angel Corella interview
- space -- the "level" is high, and the dancers' "plane" is horizontal
- relationship of dancers is in "unison"
- dynamics -- the energy of the dance is "light"
ASK: What is your reaction to Corella's story about playing soccer as a child and how he began dancing?
POSSIBLE REACTIONS: Can be many, ranging from negative to positive, but all reactions should be "allowed" -- this will later lead to a rich discussion. Encourage the students to note any parts that they find interesting or surprising, and/or those parts they feel they can relate to in a poignant way.
Stopping Point #3: about 8 1/2 minutes into the video, during Angel Corella's performance of "Don Quixote" at the Paris Ballet Competition and at American Ballet Theatre in 1997
ASK: What movement elements do you see here?
3. Have the students share their notes from Organizer #3 to generate a class discussion about what they saw on the video and their reactions to it. Since their responses are influenced by past experiences, culture, and so on, all must be considered acceptable; there are no wrong answers. Encourage the students to be honest but appropriate in their remarks. On one side of the blackboard or whiteboard, record a list of the student reactions and on the other, a list of the descriptions they gleaned.
- body -- many types of movement are illustrated in these dances, including "on-the-spot" stretches and spins and a lot of "basic" walks, jumps, and slides, as well as "combined" skip-hops and waltz-runs
- space -- the "level" is very high, and one can sometimes see the dancer on a horizontal "plane"
- relationship of dancers is in "unison"
- dynamics -- the energy of the dance is "light"
4. Generate a list of research questions from the information on the board with your class. You should allow the students to propose a wide range of topics while at the same time steering the class to cover the basic content of the video (including each artist, American Ballet Theatre, etc.). However, their responses might also generate some specific questions unique to the class's opinions, interests, and curiosity.
1. After establishing the research topics, assign the students to appropriate groups to create a research presentation that fulfills the following requirements:
The presentations should take place in one class period, if possible. They should be completed before the students go on to Activity 4 but may be conducted simultaneously with Activity 3 (while the students research on their own at home, for example). If you limit each group's presentation to five minutes, you should have time to fit all into one period. If you feel you need more time, then by all means, schedule it.
2. After presenting and explaining the project and determining a presentation date, ask groups to convene and first determine roles in the project (i.e., who will do what). This may be broken up by requirements or in some other manner, but regardless, the students need to be encouraged to take into account one another's strengths and weaknesses when determining roles. If the students have trouble with this step, put more parameters on the project planning stage by requiring that each group submit to you a work plan detailing which group member will be responsible for each specific aspect of the project and when each part will be finished.
- Utilizes three or more of the Bookmarked Sites or other Internet sites to develop an educational presentation for the entire class on one or more of the topics established. You may either assign these topics to groups or allow them to choose. It is advisable that at least four different topics be chosen for the broadest possible educational value. Students are not required to submit a report, but are encouraged to use presentation software and to develop informational handouts for the rest of the class.
- Answers the general questions outlined in Organizer #4 as specifically as possible.
- Creates a concrete, real-world example or template of some aspect of the research topic chosen. For example, if researching Jose Carreño, the students might make an effort to find specific Cuban recipes and prepare them or play Cuban music in their presentation.
3. It is advisable to begin the research process with the students in class. The amount of class time you decide to spend will depend on your students' ability to work together and to work on research projects. If they have not been exposed to much Internet research, you may need to take them through the basics of conducting searches. If the students are more adept at research, allow them to complete a larger portion of the work independently, for homework. Encourage the students to communicate via e-mail to ensure that they work productively outside of class.
Activity 3: Constructing Dance
1. Replay the seven-minute culminating dance performance for the students and ask them to focus closely on the dance itself, taking notes on Organizer #5. Like Organizer #3, this one asks the students to react and to list facts, but it also asks them to analyze what they see by using previous knowledge.
(Extension: This activity can be transformed into a much more detailed lesson by asking the students to take more time to create whole dance pieces rather than just short ones. If you have access to dance instructor(s)/expert(s), you might utilize their expertise in adding to this lesson. In addition, if you have resources available, you might take the students to see an actual dance performance. [See the WHO'S DANCIN' NOW Web site, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/dancin/community/index.html, for help locating local organizations that offer opportunities in dance and general arts education.])
2. Play the seven-minute dance performance once more, this time asking the students to choose one dancer (identifiable by his jersey color) and follow him through his first five moves. Using Organizer #6, the students should jot down a description of each successive movement in the boxes provided.
The point of this lesson is not to understand the exact, specific names of the movements but to understand that one movement smoothly follows another. In other words, you may label moves in generic terms, such as twirl, stop, skip, etc. Depending on how easily the students grasp this, you may need to replay the dance a few times, pointing out different movements. Refer to the Introductory Activities section's Note to Teachers and Activity #1 and #2 above for examples.
3. Now ask the students to break into groups of four and tell them that they will be developing a one- to three-minute dance performance to music of their choosing to perform for the class. To begin, ask them to fill out Organizer #7 using the Elements of Movement included in Organizer #1. This activity is not meant to generate a perfect piece of art but to help the students appreciate the difficulty of constructing and performing dance.
Develop a time line of your choosing for this activity, allowing construction and rehearsal time for each group accordingly.
Activity 4: Writing About Your Impressions of Dance
1. Now that the students have researched and experienced many elements of dance in addition to viewing the DANCE IN AMERICA: BORN TO BE WILD video, their initial impressions of male dancers may have changed. Using the new information they have collected, ask the students to refer to their first impressions (Organizer #3) and either support their initial opinion of male dancers or develop and support a new opinion in a one-page essay.
(Extension: If you have the time and would like to extend the outcomes of this activity, you might take this essay writing to the publication stage by asking the students to post their work on your school or classroom Web site.)
2. Depending on the manner in which you teach writing, you may elect to conduct peer-revision sessions with your the students so that they may improve their stories over time, or to revise your students' work yourself. Regardless, the students should go through a writing/revision process and be given a hard due date for their final copy.
1. You are encouraged to ask your students to share their essays with the class if they so desire. You might even organize a reading, which would serve as the culmination of the entire unit and allow for some closure.
2. Use Organizer #8 to assess your students' work.
If you have the opportunity and resources, take the students to a dance performance.
- Consider expanding the Web-based research to include interviews with local dancers. Even a visit to a ballet company for a tour of the stage and to see the dancers in person would be beneficial.
- If you have access to a choreographer or dancer, a field trip would enhance student understanding of dance. Visit the WHO'S DANCIN' NOW site to identify local organizations that could provide relevant support.