Contributed by Krishna Washburn
This activity invites students to think about size, speed, and specificity of movements in dance improvisation with a series of descriptive prompts. This lesson plan was originally designed for blind and visually impaired students on a taped floor (a long tape strip or a tape cross).
Guide students through the following three movement invitations:
- Small or Large: “Begin with the smallest micro-movement. What is its essential character? If you grew this micro-movement, let it develop, what would be its natural largest self?” First, the Teacher can model with movement and self–audio describe their own process of growing a tiny movement into a big movement. After this exploration, students are encouraged to move and self–audio describe their own growing movement from small to large.
- Fast or Slow: “Begin with a small movement that is so fast that it is easily missed or forgotten. What would it be like if you played it at half speed? And then half speed again? What if you stretched it to fill a whole minute?” First, the Teacher can model with movement and self–audio describe their own process of stretching a fast movement into a slow movement. After this exploration, encourage students to move and self–audio describe their own growth of movement from fast to slow.
- Confused or Clear: “Take a moment to move your body in a way that feels indistinct or confusing—maybe the direction isn’t apparent, or where in the body the movement originates, or even which parts of the body are in motion. Can the mystery be solved with investigation? Can a pattern be found?” First, the Teacher can model with movement and self–audio describe their own process of investigating a confused movement until it is a clear movement. After this exploration, encourage students to move and self–audio describe their own journeys from confused to clear.
Transition Into Activity
Propose that the students are going to learn some creative pathways for movement improvisation and choreography. Remind them that these are just three ways to explore!
Transition Out of Activity
Ask the students to consider some other pathways for transforming a movement. Could we have done these movement explorations in reverse order (big to small, slow to fast, clear to confused)? How would it have influenced your creative process? Can you think of another pathway of transforming movement that wasn’t explored today at all?
This lesson plan was designed for the educational needs of blind and visually impaired students that use a taped floor (single tape line or tape cross), but so long as each student has free space without obstacles in the way to explore these movement pathways, no other special arrangements are needed.
A source of music during the independent practice times can be useful; pieces of music between two and three minutes tend to work particularly well. For students that use a taped floor, non-marking gaffer tape of 1 inch or 1.5 inch width in a bright color is needed (orange is the best!). Students can choose whether they want to work with the single strip of tape or the tape cross to keep track of orientation and direction.
- This lesson plan was designed for the learning needs of blind and visually impaired students who use a taped floor (single strip or cross), but can be adapted for any group of students.
- Students who use mobility devices like wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, or other devices have no limitations in their exploration of any of the four exercises.
- Some students may find it useful to record their movement explorations in video, audio, or written format.
Possible Roles for Classroom Professionals
- The lead instructor should model each pathway for movement exploration with both movement and self–audio description, paying particular attention to how changing the movement’s size, speed, or clarity feels in the body—especially skin, connective tissue, muscles, bones, and nerves.
- For students with less confidence in choosing a starting point for movement, invite them to observe and converse with the Classroom Professional who is working through the movement pathway. Students might want to interview the Classroom Professional with questions like: “How did you choose your starting movement? What parts of your body do you notice the most as you change your movement along the pathway?”
Adjustments for Remote Instruction
This activity was originally designed for remote learning. Students can focus on their own movement explorations in their own spaces, and report to their classmates and Classroom Professionals what they did using spoken word, signing, demonstration, or written words using the various features of the digital conferencing platform in use.