skip to Main Content

Exploring World War 1 in Dance

The 4th of August this year (2014) marked the centenary of the start of WW1 and I know many schools will be exploring this topic during the Autumn term.  And even if you’re not, some of the dance suggestions below will definitely be useful for other topics (WW2, soldiers, the 1910s).  Plus all the ideas below are really boy-friendly – they’ll love being soldiers and forget they’re in a dance class!

1.  The Trenches.  To explore the conditions of the trenches and what life was really like as a soldier.

Get everyone in a space and ask them to make a digging gesture 8 times.  Then ask the children to exaggerate the movement so that the digging action is big, strong and clear.  Also perform the digging action with straight backs and proud faces to demonstrate the importance of their role as soldiers.

Stand in a new space (somewhere else in the room) and face a different direction.  Repeat the digging action 8 times.  Then travel to another new place and dig again.

Every time the children start digging again, ask them to look more and more tired with their facial expressions.  And change the dynamics of the movement so that it is heavier and slower and smaller to show the fatigue soldiers would have experienced.

2.  Soldier Parade.  To demonstrate the actions of a soldier and experience working in a team / army.

Teach the soldiers a marching parade dance such as…

  • March on the spot 8 times
  • Salute right hand, then left hand
  • Top rock 4 times (subscribe to receive a FREE video on how to top rock, plus 4 other street dance moves)
  • Wave large ‘flag’ above head with right arm.  At the same time, stand with legs in a wide stance and bounce the heels up and down

Ask the children to perform the dance in unison (all together and at the same time).

3.  Still Life.  To examine how people lived in the 1920s

Create 4 different still images in groups of 3/4, for example…

  1. A family portrait
  2. Children playing games
  3. Young solider saying goodbye to family
  4. Children at school

These images could be modernised by repeating them but creating modern day versions too.

Music ideas. I’ve just come across ‘Forever’ The official album of the World War 1 commemorations, which has songs from the era and readings of poetry by celebrities such as Sean Bean.  This is a great resource as the CD has a wide selection of music and really captures the mood of the 1910s.

Please let me know how you and your children explore WW1 through dance by putting your comments in the box below – I love hearing new ideas!

JumpStart will be running one-day workshops this term on the theme of WW1.  If your school is interested in creating an exciting WW1 show in a day, which can be performed to the rest of the school or parents, then contact me at [email protected] or ring 07738042089.  I’ll be bringing my show lights, music from the era and one or two tricks up my sleeve!

Back To Top