Using Student Choreography to Teach Form

31 Aug

Last year’s fourth graders created their own choreography to some of the dances from Act II of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker ballet. We used and/or created listening maps of the dances first, paying close attention to the forms of each piece. (Download the SMART Notebook file here.) As the students shared their movement ideas, I served as a facilitator and occasionally an editor. I was especially impressed with Mrs. Stephens’s class. They chose the Spanish Dance which has a very distinctive castanet part. I pulled up a video of a flamenco dancer demonstrating castanet technique. This inspired the kids to request more flamenco videos, and they used some of the steps from those videos in their own choreography. While the Spanish Dance might not be the most exciting of the three classes, it is certainly the most authentic and inspired. Watch all three videos below!

Mrs. John’s Class

Mrs. Stephens’s Class

Mrs. Triplett’s Class


8 Responses to “Using Student Choreography to Teach Form”

  1. Brenda Muench August 31, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    Awesome idea! Watching your dances helped me to notice all kinds of things in the music. I really liked how the scarf dance highlighted the flute trills!

  2. Susan Quebbeman December 19, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    Thank you so very much for sharing the videos of dances from the Nutcracker Suite! They inspired my students and they had a lot of fun with some of the ideas. It gave me ideas for movement to show form. Thanks so much for sharing your hard work and talent with your music students!!!!

    • Kelly Schenbeck Riley December 28, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback, Susan! The kids really enjoy this activity. I would love to see your students’ movement work, if you filmed it. :-)

      • Ronda Dubuque March 12, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

        What fun! Our elementary students watched your video and did your Nutcracker dance. The class enjoyed it so much!! THank you for sharing!!!

        • Kelly Schenbeck Riley March 21, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

          Thanks, Ronda! I’d love to challenge your students to choreograph a dance of their own. When they do, please share a video with me!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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