New Tricks: YEAR 1 - Dance - Explain

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.

Explain - Respond to dance and consider where and why people dance, starting with dances from Australia including dances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples


After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 9 ‘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.

In Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 9 ‘New Tricks’, Old Dog states that “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks.” Ask the class what Old Dog means by this saying – the saying suggests that, as we grow older, it is difficult to learn new things; or that the older we are, our body doesn’t move as well and our mind is not as inquisitive.)

Explain to students that they will be learning new dance moves associated with different styles of dance, for example:

  1. Hip Hop for Kids (video)
  2. Move it Mob Style (video channel)
  3. How to Tap dance – beginner tutorial (video)
  4. Chicken Dance (video)
  5. Twist Dance Steps (video), and Twist (Dance & Walk Through) (video)

Aboriginal Dance and/or Torres Strait Islander dance:

**Teachers note: Some movements of Aboriginal dancers and/or Torres Strait Islander dancers can only be performed by certain people (especially when it comes to gender or certain geographic locations or without Elders’ approval). Please consult with local Elders to avoid cultural miscommunication or feelings of disrespect.

As a suggestion, other non-Indigenous dances could include: jive, Wiggle dance, Irish jig, waltz, swing, square dancing, etc.

Have students pose and respond to questions about how and why dance evolved, and how people from different cultures and times use different forms of dance. Explain that most dances have specific steps and step sequences that must be learnt. Explore the commonalities of all dances: movement, purpose, and style of music.

Invite students from different ethnic backgrounds to demonstrate their cultural dances. Ask students to explain who taught them to dance, why the dance is important to their family, and does it communicate a specific meaning about the culture it originated from.

Select a dance to teach students. It is recommended to allocate at least 45 minutes of dedicated dance time to help students maximise their output. This block of time enables students to concentrate, explore and elaborate on ideas and enables you, as a teacher, to guide them and be aware of safety.

Dance procedure

  1. Teach only one step or section at a time.
  2. Demonstrate the step first or have a student show how you would like it to look.
  3. Describe the important features of the step.
  4. Encourage students to try the step with you.
  5. Allow the students to have time to practise until they are confident.
  6. Add on the next step and continue this process until the dance is complete. Don’t rush. This may take several sessions.
  7. Count down from ten so that students know how long they have to design and perform the group shape. This keeps the group focused on the task and working collaboratively.

Sourced from: School of Fish  (Scootle TLF M013253), Artslive

Divide the class into two teams. One team learns the steps to a specific dance, the other group a different dance. Once each group can confidently perform their dance, pair the students up with students from the other group and have the pairs teach each other the steps of their dance so every students can perform both dances.

Suggested teaching resources