New Tricks: FOUNDATION - Dance - Explore

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.

Explore - Use fundamental movement skills to develop technical skills when practising dance sequences 

Theme - CIRCUS

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.

Recount the events of  Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 3 ‘New Tricks’, and have students identify the skills and tricks that Little J performs, such as hula-hoops, juggling, tightrope walking, and rope course. Discuss the movement skills needed for performing these tricks, such as coordination, timing, arm extension, flexibility, balance, eye-hand coordination, step sequencing, etc.

As a class, view a selection of video clips of circus performers performing acts like Little J’s, and ask students to note the way the performers move and the apparatus they use in the performance.

As a class, list the types of circus acts, the performance skills, and the props each performer used. Have students select one of the circus movements to practise and perform. Discuss the dynamics of the movements and the relationship of the movement to the action levels and time. For example, using the body as an instrument:

  • Hula hoop: wiggling back and forth to generate centrifugal force and maintain elevation of the hoop around different parts of the body, such as waist, torso, neck, arms and legs.
  • Juggling: coordinating the throwing of multiple small balls into the air; hand-eye coordination; arms moving up and down; and timing to catch and throw balls.
  • Tightrope walking: walking along a rope with pointed toes and feet in front of the other; arms out stretched to balance the slow movement; use of props such as a broom handle, or chair, etc.
  • Rope course climbing: sliding along a bottom rope and holding a top rope; two different levels and sequencing action; moving hand over hand control; and steps timed to coordinate with hands. And, perhaps a flip or roll at the end of the sequence.

Have students mimic the movements of Little J’s circus acts without props. Organise the students according to the movements they chose to practise. Working together, have students coordinate a dance line where all students perform their act, and then all students perform as a sequence. Once students have practised their movements without props, introduce the props and ask students to practise using the props (hula hoop, tennis ball/s, rope/line, and mat to roll/flip on) as part of the movement sequence.

Use a Think, Pair, Share strategy, ask students to think about and respond to what was -

  1. the most difficult part of the movement to perform
  2. the easiest part of the movement
  3. the level of concentration and effort needed to practise the movement
  4. the improvement needed to make it better.

Have students share their thoughts with a friend, and find another pair to share what the pair concluded. As a group of four, practise the circus movement again and have students perform as a group.