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Instructional Unit Samples - Dance
Below are the teacher-authored instructional unit samples for Dance. Each of these units represents the work of a team of Colorado educators to translate one curriculum overview sample into a full instructional unit with learning experiences, teacher and student resources, assessment ideas, and differentiation options. To learn more about the unit development process and the unique aspects of the arts units, please consider watching one or more of the instructional unit webinars.
Each of the units posted here was authored by a team of Colorado educators. As examples, they are intended to provide support (or conversation/creation starting points) for teachers, schools, and districts as they make their own local decisions around the best instructional plans and practices for all students.
You can also view the complete list of Dance curriculum overview samples and use the instructional unit templates to begin constructing your own Colorado Academic Standards-based units.
Unit Title: Creating and Notating Dance - Extended Pathway Focus (Peak Academy of Dance, Douglas County School District, and Littleton School District)
Unit Description: This unit explores the use of the Language of Dance Movement Alphabet to further the exploration and understanding of basic movement concepts to make dance literacy an integrated practice in all aspects of dance. Across the unit students will learn the history and reasons why the Language of Dance was developed; symbols from the Movement Alphabet; also in small groups students will explore creative movement choices that relate to the symbols from the Movement Alphabet; then notate a short except from a repertory work using a portion of the symbols from the Movement Alphabet. The final assessment will culminate with an oral presentation by small student groups sharing which symbols were utilized to document and record movement from the repertory excerpt.
Unit Title: Creating Like a Well Known Choreographer (Colorado Ballet and Douglas County School District)
Unit Description: This unit exposes students to a variety of masterworks from across historic periods and disciplines. Students will learn to execute excerpts from two chosen works with technical proficiency, and create original work incorporating components from the two masterworks. Students will have to articulate choreographic components both in observation of the masterworks and evaluation of their own work. The ultimate goal of the unit is to have one student work selected to be performed on a masterworks bill by the Artistic Director (teacher).
Unit Title: Improvising Within a Structure - Fundamental Pathway Focus (Colorado Springs School District, Colorado Dance Education Association, and Littleton School District)
Unit Description: This unit explores beginning improvisational dance technique. Across the unit students will learn basic elements of loco motor skills, incorporate the concepts of space, time, and energy; experiment with floor patterns, while collaborating in small groups to create a dance that links improvised movements to a choreographic structure. The unit culminates in students preparing a dance recital of basic chorographic patterns including reflection on the creative process used to develop the choreography.
Unit Title: Researching History, Making a Dance - Extended Pathway Focus (Colorado Springs School District and Colorado Dance Education Organization)
Unit Description: This unit explores multiple cultures of dance as origins for unique styles of movement. Across the unit students will experience multiple styles of dance, analyze movement concepts and gestures within cultural styles, and associate styles of dance with the historical context from which they originate. The unit culminates in students creating a piece of work that could be performed at a cultural festival as a depiction of that culture’s traditional dance form. In addition, students will respond to the work of their peers through written reflection.
Unit Title: Abstracting You Inspiration (Colorado Ballet, Littleton School District, Peak Academy of Dance, and Colorado Dance Education Organization)
Unit Description: In this unit, students will create an original dance phrase through the process of improvisation, and use a variety of emotions to transform the phrase into abstract variations. The unit will culminate in a class performance in which students perform both the original phrase and the abstracted phrase. Following the performance, students will be asked to compare and contrast their original dance phrase to the abstracted phrase.
Unit Title: Poetry In Motion (Colorado Ballet, St. Mary’s Academy, Colorado Dance Education Association, and Littleton School District)
Unit Description: In this unit student partners will select a short poem with a structure such as Haiku, Limerick, or Sonnet. The students will research common choreographic forms such as ABA, Narrative or Variation on a Theme. Students will then compose a dance with movement that symbolizes the artistry, meaning and intent of the selected poem, using a common choreographic form to structure the dance. Students will reflect on cultural and traditional influences of compositions in dance and literature. Students will then perform duet dance pieces for peer audiences. This unit culminates in a final dance performance that symbolizes the meaning and intent of a student selected poem.
Unit Title: Speaking With Our Feet (Colorado Ballet, St. Mary’s Academy, Colorado Dance Education Association, and Littleton School District)
Unit Description: This unit explores improvisational tap dance. In this unit the teacher introduces the student tap dancer to a variety of tap artists. The students will observe and research the artist’s tap styles, specifically focusing on the artistic choices the artist made when creating improvised movement manipulations in tap. Students will then create a short phrase from a selected tap artist. Once the various dance phrases are internalized, the students will create their own abstractions and variations of an original tap phrase. The unit will culminate in asking students to perform the original phrase, a collaborated group phrase, and a solo variation.
Unit Title: Body Systems Dance (Greeley-Evans School District 6)
Unit Description:This unit is integrated with Dance, Physical Education and Science. It allows the educator and students to learn about and explore human body systems (e.g., Circulatory, Digestive, Muscular, etc.) through movement elements. Students will work in small groups to create movement that will symbolize the movements of selected body systems. The unit will culminate in a school wide field day where stations of student groups will explain and perform the workings of a human body system to participants.
Unit Title: Jump into Creating (Colorado Ballet, Douglas County School District, St. Mary’s Academy, Colorado Dance Education Association, and Littleton School District)
Unit Description: This unit explores a multidisciplinary approach to learning the systems of the human body and applied health-related fitness components. Students will engage in the creative process through combining the movement elements and choreographic structures to devise a patterned movement phrase symbolizing various body systems (e.g. respiratory, nervous, muscular, circulatory, skeletal systems). The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to work collaboratively to prepare a final dance performance depicting a human body system.
Unit Title: Dancing a Map (Colorado Ballet, Douglas County School District, St. Mary’s Academy, Colorado Dance Education Association, and Littleton School District)
Unit Description: This unit explores crating a dance based upon a map’s landmarks and symbols. Students will be introduced to a simple map with landmarks and symbols. Across the unit students will rely upon unique patterns and movement relationships through the creation of group shapes, a variety of dance positions and transitional movements. The unit culminates in a performance assessment asking students to perform a dance sequence with body shapes and transitional movement to represent a map. Once the dances are performed, students will reflect and evaluate the similarities and differences between each group’s interpretations.
Unit Title: Movements Inspired by Famous Choreographers (Adams-Arapahoe School District and Colorado Ballet)
Unit Description: This unit will explore movement inspired by famous choreographers. Across the unit students will focus on Hip Hop, Bollywood, and Contemporary styles of dance and will compare and contrast dance works created in each style. Students will be able to articulate the importance of choreography and explore improvisation to create original movement. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to prepare an audition piece inspired by famous choreographers for the class.
Unit Title: The Way West – The Oregon Trail: Theme and Variation Folk Dance (Colorado Ballet, Douglas County School District, St. Mary’s Academy, and Colorado Dance Education Association)
Unit Description: This unit explores the Oregon Trail era through its traditions of social dance, primarily the folk dance. Students will begin by studying folk dances and becoming familiar with the cultural influences within each dance style. Across the unit, students will learn various dance steps to create folk dances following the performance preparation process as an organizing structure for learning. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to work collaboratively to prepare a final folk dance performance that includes historical presentations about the folk dance of that era.
Unit Title: Explore Our Environments Through Movement (Colorado Ballet, Douglas County School District, Greeley School District, Peak Academy of Dance, and St. Mary’s Academy)
Unit Description: In this unit students will explore cultural environments and choose a favorite cultural dance style. Students will use their understanding of the various cultural dance patterns, styles, shapes and rhythms to combine movement phrases into a pattern in small groups. The unit culminates in a final dance performance in which students rehearse and perform their dances for their parents. Students will end the unit by sharing positive peer feedback on a favorite dance move that classmates performed.
Unit Title: Making Friends Through Sharing and Exploring Movement (Colorado Ballet, Douglas County School District, St. Mary’s Academy, and Littleton School District)
Unit Description: This unit uses the body to communicate ideas through movement. Across the unit students will share ideas with each other as they create simple movement phrases, while learning to safely move in personal and general space. Students will learn to express themselves to others through movement patterns and shapes. This unit culminates in a basic dance performance of student partners sharing movements learned with the class.
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