This is an excerpt from Dance Units for Middle School by Judi Fey.
Warm-Up, Levels, Shadows, and Mirrors
- Students will identify fitness components that improve as a result of the activities.
- Students will increase proficiency in the unit warm-up movements.
- Students will be able to perform a variety of movements to music.
- Students will experience the relationship between levels and movement.
- Students will create their own movements.
National Dance Standards
- Identifying and demonstrating movement elements and skills in performing dance
- Applying and demonstrating critical-thinking and creative-thinking skills in dance
- Making connections between dance and healthful living
- Making connections between dance and other disciplines
• Music with a steady beat and appropriate words (accompanying CD or see suggestions on page xxiii)
- Music player with enough volume for class space
• Cards labeled 1 to 10 and Basement
- Optional: Deal-a-Dance cards (These cards are included with the book Building Dances: A Guide to Putting Movements Together by Susan McGreevy-Nichols, Helene Scheff, and Marty Sprague. The cards work well with this lesson, but they are not necessary for conducting the lesson.)
- Post list of music used.
• Laminate cards 1 to 10 and Basement.
- Optional: Laminate Deal-a-Dance cards.
• Post outcomes for the lesson.
• Post vocabulary for the lesson.
- Devise a way to partner students for the Shadows and Mirrors activity.
When students enter the room, seat them in lines facing stage right. The students should be sitting on the left side of the room (stage left) facing the right wall of the room, as follows (example shows a class of 30 divided into 5 lines of 6 students each, facing stage right):
X X X X X X
X X X X X X
X X X X X X
X X X X X X
X X X X X X
Make the distance between lines as large as the space permits.
Go over the outcomes for the lesson.
This is lesson 3 of our improvisation unit. Can you tell me the stage directions we learned? [Point to downstage, upstage, stage right, stage left, and center stage.] Who can tell me why upstage and downstage are named that way?
The movement today will improve your physical fitness just like all of the other activities in physical education class, athletics, or any other type of fitness class. It will also help you if you are in sports, drama, music, or dance because it will improve your ability to play and perform.
Pay close attention to the music used in class so you can make a good choice for your group project. The list is posted.
We will warm up going across the floor, combining the movements. Remember that I will start the movement with “5, 6, 7, 8” to start the first row, then each row comes in 8 counts after the row in front of them. Make sure you come in on count 1, count the entire time, stay on the beat, and do the movement all the way across the room.
Lead students through these movements:
- Jog forward halfway across, then turn and jog backward the rest of the way across.
- Skip sideways over and back, facing the audience the whole time to use both sides of the body.
- Do 4 low runs, then 4 high runs, then 4 low runs, then 4 high runs all the way across the room.
- Gallop forward halfway across, then turn and gallop backward the rest of the way.
- Alternate hopping and jumping all the way across (hop R, jump on both, hop R, jump on both over, then hop L, jump on both, hop L, jump on both back).
- Leap R, run L, leap R, run L all the way across, then leap L, run R, leap L, run R back.
- Prance 4 forward, then 4 in a circle, then 4 forward, then 4 in a circle until across, then reverse back.
- Prance backward all the way across and back.
- Skip 4, jump 4, skip 4, jump 4 all the way across and back.
- Step R, step L, kick R all the way across. You can choose what kind of kick (karate, high, low, sideways, backward). Step L, step R, kick L all the way back.
Go to your line (squad) spots for this activity. [Students go.] Think about things that you see that have different levels to them. [Students respond: parking garages, malls, stadiums, schools.] Today we will explore moving at different levels.
How many of you have ever been in an elevator? Today we’ll use the concept of elevators to explore levels of movement.
Think of your bodies as elevators. Lie on the floor. [Students do this.] This is your basement level. Now, stand up on your toes with your arms stretched to the ceiling. [Students do this.] This is your 10th floor. Lower your elevator now to the 5th floor. [Students do this.] Where is your 5th floor? Why? [Students respond.]
Now you will determine levels for the rest of the floors in your elevator. I will turn on the music and call out a floor. Move so your body is on that floor. [Turn on music and call out, “Basement.” Hold 8 to 16 counts in the music, then call out, “1st floor.” Hold 8 to 16 counts in the music, and follow this pattern for 2nd floor, 3rd floor, and so on, to the 10th floor. Stop music.]
I will randomly hold up numbered cards for the floor levels and basement (cards 1 to 10 and Basement). Watch closely. When I hold up a card, quickly reach that floor. [Hold up cards; students move to that floor.]
Now that we know where all of our floors are, we are ready for the elevator to suddenly drop down several floors as if it were falling. Our body elevators will be falling, but let’s discuss again what falling is and how to fall without injury. We did this in our first lesson. A fall is a change in body position from standing, kneeling, or sitting to a position on the floor. A fall generally is a sudden movement but can be done gradually. When falling, the weight should rest on the thigh, buttock, side of the leg, or back of the shoulder rather than on the knee, elbow, or base of the spine. You can fall in different directions, from different levels, and with changes in speed, energy, and weight.
Okay, everyone to the basement. [Students do it.]
Slowly show cards, increasing floor numbers until getting to 10. Next show floor 7. Let students fall to floor 7 and then bring students slowly back up to floor 10 again (8, 9, 10). Then show floor 4, and then bring students slowly back up to floor 10 again (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Next show floor 2, and bring students slowly back up to floor 10 again. Finally, call out floor 1, and have students fall to the basement.
Let’s try some other types of falls and levels.
Pick from the following list, or refer to Deal-a-Dance cards if you have them. Call out the items and have students respond by improvising the movement suggested:
- Trying to get something out from under a bed
- Trying to get something from inside a bottom cupboard
- Picking the stars out of the sky
- Catching the moon
- Climbing a tree
- A boat with a hole in the bottom of it
- Caught in quicksand
- Stepping in mud
- A rock that has been dropped in water
- A waterfall
- Tripping up the stairs
- A leaf falling off a tree
Good job. Have a seat. Now we’ll do another activity called Shadows and Mirrors.
Shadows and Mirrors
Both shadowing and mirroring are demonstrated on the DVD.
Can anyone guess what shadowing is? [Movement where one person moves just like the shadow of another.] Let’s try shadowing as a group. I would like a volunteer to help with this. [Have the student stand with his back to the class, and make sure everyone is facing the audience.] John (name of student), please move your right hand anywhere, and everyone in the class take your right hand and make it move exactly like the shadow of John’s right hand would move. John, now move your head any way you like, and everyone shadow that movement. Does everyone understand? [Answer any questions.]
Some others will have turns as the leader as we work on shadowing. If you are the leader, move slowly at first so we can make our shadows accurate. We will stand in our lines (squads) to do this, so everyone do a locomotor movement to their lines. [Students move to lines (squads).]
Who would like to lead first? The leader stands in front of the group and begins to move slowly standing in place, using any nonlocomotor movement. Move arms, legs, head, or trunk. Try twisting, bending over, reaching up, or leaning. The rest of the class should try very hard to make exact copies of our leader’s movements. [Let the leader go on for a while, then let a couple other students be the leader.]
Now we will make it harder. This time, our leader may use locomotor (traveling) movements, but travel slowly and not very far at first. Wherever our leader goes, we have to try to do the exact movement as if we were the shadow. [Let the leader move awhile, emphasizing slowly. Students will have a hard time following turns and changes of direction. Stop and try movements again if necessary to get the correct shadow. Some students may figure it out; use them as models.]
Good job. Everyone have a seat. What was the easiest movement to shadow? What was the hardest movement to shadow? Why? How do you think people become good at shadowing movement? [Practice.] Why would being good at shadowing help an athlete? [Defense.] How would it help a dancer or someone in a marching band? [Unison.]
Now we are going to try mirroring. What is the difference between shadowing and mirroring? [Shadow = same; mirror = opposite.] I would like a volunteer to help me demonstrate mirroring. We are going to stand facing each other. John (student’s name), do a few easy movements with your hands and arms. Notice that as John does these movements, I am moving the way John’s image in a mirror would be moving. John, move your head, and I’m going to mirror that. Notice that anytime the person turns, the mirror mover has to turn the opposite way, just like the image in the mirror would. Thank you, John.
We are going to work in partners for this activity. All of the partners will face the same way John and I just did. The partner stage left will be the leader for a couple of minutes. The leader needs to move slowly at first until you get the idea of reversing the movements. [Students mirror for a short time.] Now the partner stage right will lead, and again move slowly at first. [Students mirror for a short time.] Now we will change back to the original leader and try locomotor movements, remembering to go very slowly. [Students do this for a short time.] Now we will change leaders again and try locomotor movements. [Students do this for a short time.] Now, I challenge you and your partner to travel across the room using turns and levels and mirroring. When you arrive at your destination, both partners sit down. [Roam around the room and help those having a hard time reversing movement. If you notice a pair doing very well, stop the class and have them demonstrate. If you notice everyone having trouble turning, stop the class, and have two students demonstrate being coached by others in the class.]
Do a locomotor movement to come over and have a seat. Let’s review today’s lesson.
- What are levels?
- Did you learn to shadow and mirror?
- Which was more difficult? Why?
- Are you improving your warm-up movements?
- What will help you become a better mover? [Practice.]
- Tomorrow we will work on creating movement from words and stories.
- Did we meet today’s outcomes?
- What was hard and what was easy about our class today?
If time permits, allow students to improvise a dance in partners or in small groups using levels, shadowing, and mirroring. Play music while they work. If students are comfortable sharing their dance, have them take turns performing while the rest of the class watches and identifies levels, shadowing, and mirroring.
Learn more about Dance Units for Middle School.