Around the World through dance
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Around the World through dance

In our Physical and Health Education curriculum we offer a wide variety of sports to create an inclusive learning environment for all students. Accordingly, dance is an important part of our curriculum. We offer a dance unit in every grade level in PYP, and most grade levels in MYP.

-by Yasmin Bakker, PHE teacher

In grade 3 the school year has started with the traditions & values unit. In class students explore different cultures, traditions, and beliefs. They inquire into ways to express ideas, feelings, cultures, and values. Dance is not only a natural form of self-expression but also has a huge cultural role in communities around the world. In other words, a perfect opportunity to integrate traditions & values with the PHE dance unit in grade 3!

Feeling, emotion or idea

We started our integrated unit talking about dance and movement as a form of self-expression. Then students learned a class choreography to the song “Around the World” by Daft Punk. After learning the class choreography, which was the same for all of grade 3, we had an in-classroom PHE lesson. I came into their classroom with the iPads for a research session. In groups based loosely on cultural background, students watched various videos of traditional and modern dances from different countries. They answered research questions like “What feeling, emotion or idea is expressed in this dance?” and “What kind of dance movements are used (big, small, slow, fast)?”

Maori Haka, Serbian Kolo, North-Indian Garba

The Israeli students learned about ‘The Hora”, a traditional dance performed at Jewish weddings. The North-Indian students found similarities between traditional dances like the Kathak from Uttar Pradesh and the Garba from Gujarat to modern Bollywood dance. The South-Indian students compared many traditional dances like the Bharatnatyam from Tamil Nadu, the Kuchipudi from Andhra Pradesh and the Lavani from Maharashtra. A group with students from different European countries watched videos of the Spanish Flamenco, the Serbian Kolo, the Greek Sirtaki and the Italian Tarantella. They eventually got inspired by a funny German ballet performance in which a table was used as a prop. Another group found similarities between the Maori Haka and African tribal dances!

The students used this research and inspiration to create their own group dance sequences. They had to work together to combine their ideas, think of formation changes, and count out loud to remember all the steps!

I was very impressed by all of their creative ideas and extremely proud of the final performances!