New Tricks: YEAR 2 - Dance - Explore3

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 


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.

As a class, view the video clips of ‘Moth’ and ‘Brolga’ performed by the Bangara Dance Theatre, and discuss how the dancers mimic the shapes and movements of Australian animals and birds with their bodies.

Then, view video clips displaying the movements of an actual Moth, and a Brolga:

As a class, view video clips of traditional Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples dances of a Brolga and other animals:

Have students identify and describe how the dancers interpret the movements of the actual animal or bird. View the video clips on the movements of the actual animals and have students create and demonstrate their own interpretations of the movements of the animals and birds in the ‘Brolga’ and ‘Moth’ video clips listed above.

Video the movements of the students and play back the video for students to explain why they made the movements they did.

**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.

Incursion: Invite Aboriginal performers and/or Torres Strait Islander performers to come to class and perform traditional dances. Before the incursion, run a Think, Pair, Share routine with students.

Ask students to pose and respond to questions about, ‘what  traditional ideas and stories Aboriginal peoples and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples use as the basis for performing a dance, such as hunting, gathering, finding water, fishing, starting fires or cooking’ During the incursion, ask the dancers to teach the students some dance moves and their traditional meanings.

Explore the idea of ‘space’ in dance:

“In Dance, where the body moves, including level, dimension, direction, shape, active space, positive space, negative space, planes, pathways, general space, personal space and performance space.”

The Arts Glossary, Australian Curriculum v8.3

Play the game of ‘Statues’, where the teacher calls out an animal that the students mimic with movement, until the teacher calls ‘statue’ and the students freeze in the position they are in at that instance. Use local Australian animals, birds, fish, reptiles, etc. for the students to mimic.

Once the students freeze on the spot, take a photograph a selection of students in their poses. Complete the game and load the images on a presentation device for the class to see the photographs.

Discuss with the students how the inside shape of the body is ‘positive space’ and how the outline of the body communicates which animal is interpreted by the dancer. Have students also recognise that the empty spaces around the body (and any visible space within the body shape occurring due to the extension of arms and legs) is called ‘negative space’ and this space helps the audience to read the size, level and direction of the shape.

Have students play with the different shapes of the body at high and low levels, e.g. create a ball shape at low level, and at medium level, create a straight line and a curve line, a triangle shape with a pair, a rectangular shape with a group. Have students sequence three different body shapes together.