Chess Ballet

Suzanna Krutsch

How does our movement affect our understanding of the world around us?
How do you “read” a chess game?


Music and something to play it with
Room to move
Board or large paper to record dance movements
Paper and pencil for each group to record dance steps
Students who already know how each chess piece moves


1. Divide students into small groups of no more than 8.
2. Ask student to think about a chess king. How would a chess king stand? How would a chess king move?
3. Allow students some time to discuss, create, and practice an 8 beat “King Dance”.
4. Play some music and have each group share their performance.
5. On the board, write a symbol that will denote the king dance. Assure that all students agree that the symbol is appropriate.
6. Now, students should record the specific steps they used to be kings using their own notation.
7. Repeat steps 2-6 for each of the other pieces.
8. Have kids design a dance that demonstrates how the piece would capture. This should be 4 beats.
9. On the board create notation to demonstrate captures.
10. Students create their own notation for their 4 beat captures.
11. Continue to repeat steps 2-6 and 8-10 for each of the other pieces.
12. Once students have worked through all the chess pieces, allow each child to become a piece and create a dance that combines the pieces into a chess game which includes captures.
13. Lead a discussion about what the dance reveals about chess, reading a chess board, and solving problems (in math as well as other areas).
14. Each student writes a reflection.

Differentiation Approaches

1. Be cautious when forming groups so that you have a good balance.
2. It is not necessary for students to use a specific number of beats for their movements.


Consider how the students’ moves show what they understand about the pieces. Reflection should reveal what each student learned from creating the dance.

Follow Up and Extension Ideas

Combine more than one class to perform a chess dance together.

Additional Details

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