New Tricks: FOUNDATION - Dance - Engage3

Little J dreams of being an acrobat in a circus when he grows up. With the help of Jacko and B-Boy, he practises circus tricks in the backyard after school. Uncle Mick, a search and rescue officer, comes to school to talk about his work. Little J uses his circus skills to demonstrate a search and rescue procedure.

Engage - Explore, improvise and organise ideas to make dance sequences using the elements of dance


After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 3 ‘New Tricks’, engage students with the following activities to support their understanding about personal and social strengths, dance elements and techniques.

Prepare a safe working environment by uncluttering the area so students can move safely without bumping into each other, and the classroom furniture. Adhere to safe performance guidelines of the school and the education authority.

Explain that when playing sport or dancing, participants should use warm-up with stretching routines to protect their bodies from stress and damage. A warm-up and cool-down is an essential part of any movement lesson.

Revisit Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 3 ‘New Tricks’ and concentrate on how Little J is embarrassed to show his teacher and classmates that he wants to be a circus performer. Ask students if they have felt ’embarrassed to show others what they like and can do.

As a class, discuss why someone may be embarrassed, or shamed, to feel, think or do things differently from everyone else. Introduce concepts of individuality, creativity and innovation. Remind students that it is those people who think differently to others who become the inventors and whose ideas have revolutionise the way we live.

As a class, read/view a selection of story books about being different, such as:

Discuss with students why being different might be a good thing. Explore the emotions students experience with being different. Compare the opposites for how each feels. Have students express the emotion as a facial expression, then as full body movements:

  • happy v sad
  • angry v calm
  • loud v quiet
  • accepted v rejected
  • confident v shy

As a class watch examples of dance and have students interpret which expression/emotion is being communicated.

Discuss the different styles of dance examples in the clips above. Using the I See, I Think, I Wonder visual analysis strategy.

Have students pose and respond to questions about what other elements of the dance give the audience a clue to the expression/emotion, such as, the music through style, tempo, etc.

Access the teaching resource, Dance: Illustration of Planning – 0-5 years (video), Arts POP, for further information on planning dance activities and dance expression.

Ask students to select an emotion and its opposite emotion. Have students express their emotions as movements using their face and body actions. Remind students to practise facial expressions and body movements in front of a mirror and demonstrate their actions in a pair or group to gather feedback, and revise the moment. To communicate to the audience, an emotional expression needs to be exaggerated.

As a class, form a circle, using the Little J & Big Cuz title music as background. Have students perform their expression sequence.

Introduce the following dance terms:

  • elements of dance: space, time, dynamics and relationships.
  • locomotor and non-locomotor movements
  • body awareness
  • body language
  • sequence
  • expressive skills
  • improvisation

For a definition of each term, refer to The Arts Glossary, Australian Curriculum.

As a class, identify and explain how the dance elements and concepts were evident in the students’ performance.