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Developing a Dance Lesson Plan

How do you make a topic into a dance class?  When I plan, I first brainstorm the theme I want to explore.  To develop my ideas into dance material, I then select 2 or 3 movement objectives that link with the topic and these then become the main focus of each dance class.  If you use movement objectives in your planning, it ensures you abstract the movement from the original context and develop it into dance (rather than drama or re-enactment).

Movement objectives can be divided into the following categories…


  • The position that the body is in (round, flat, wide, twisted…)

Body parts

  • Which part/s of the body is / are moving? (left leg, right elbow…)


  • Where is the dancer performing?  (Facing the back of the room?  On the spot or everywhere?)


  • Does the dance have a definite rhythm or speed?  (Fast / slow, 4/4, syncopated…)

Travel ways / actions

  • What are the dancers doing?  (Shuffling, jumping, stomping…)


  • How are the dancers doing it?  (floaty, strong, exploding, …)


  • Who are dancers performing with and how? (Duets, unison, counter-balances…)

So how are these movement objectives used in planning a dance class?  Well, I was recently planning a Dance Class in a Box resource pack based on The Romans and one of the sub-topics was Architecture.  After brainstorming ideas, I decided the children would create a shape (movement objective 1) for 4 famous Roman buildings (such as The Colosseum and Hadrian’s Wall).

However, the children needed to do more than create 4 shapes to make a successful lesson!   Looking back through the list above, I decided to explore the movement objective of relationships.  I taught the children some counter-balances, where two dancers support the weight of each other.  For example, they stood facing each other, held each other’s hands and leaned away.

Using this additional movement objective meant that the architecture theme was explored in more depth and children could create more interesting Roman buildings with their partner.

For more information about dance lesson planning, or teacher training events in your school (dance development days), contact me on [email protected].  Also keep checking the blog for more articles – I update it regularly.

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