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The King and the Little Prince (credit: Adrian Brooks)
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Dancing Good and Evil from Dance in America: ''Swan Lake'' with American Ballet Theatre
Grades: 5-8
OverviewProcedures for TeachersOrganizers for Students
American Ballet Theatre's dazzling duo of Gillian Murphy and Angel Corella set the stage ablaze with their virtuoso performances in "Swan Lake." DANCE IN AMERICA marks its 30th anniversary with the broadcast of the beloved ballet recorded at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Students will watch the program as part of this lesson, as well as create a pantomime, work cooperatively to conduct and share research, identify and discuss how movement is used to depict the ethereal Odette and the sinister Odile, and creatively pay tribute to the lovers, Odette and Siegfried.

Time Allotment:
Five 45-minute classes

Subject Matter:
Music, Dance, Language Arts


Students will be able to:

1. Create movement to a piece of music.

2. Conduct and present research on various aspects of "Swan Lake."

3. Identify and discuss ballet technique.

4. Synthesize and orally present information from notes.

5. View and analyze a ballet for technique and evidence of virtuosity.

6. Understand the challenges of performing a dual role.

7. Demonstrate understanding of character motivation through artistic rendering.

Pens or pencils

Prep for Teachers:
Record the broadcast of DANCE IN AMERICA: "SWAN LAKE" (check local listings to determine if and when the program will air in your state). Print out and make copies of the related student organizers: Pantomime, Research, and Odette-Odile. Make sure that computers are functional and have the required plug-ins (such as RealPlayer), Internet connections are working, and Web sites are active. Cue the video to the appropriate starting point.

Bookmark the following sites:

Compendia Music Licensing

K-tel: Music Licensing

Wikipedia: Swan Lake

GREAT PERFORMANCES: Dance in America: "Swan Lake" with American Ballet Theatre: Synopsis

American Ballet Theatre: Ballet Dictionary

GREAT PERFORMANCES: Educational Resources: Composer Biographies: Tchaikovsky

DanceWorks: The Syllabus: Digital Danseuses


English/Language Arts
NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English)
Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

The Arts
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
Knows basic dance steps, body positions, and spatial patterns for dance from various styles or traditions (e.g., ballet, square, Ghanaian, Middle Eastern, modern).

Standard 3, Level III: Understands dance as a way to create and communicate meaning.
Understands how different accompaniment (e.g., sound, music, spoken text) can affect the meaning of a dance.

Working with Others
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
Contributes to the overall effort of a group.

This lesson was prepared by Janine Polla Werner.

Top banner photo: Cast from the Met Opera's production of "The Barber of Seville."

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