Lines of Life

Xan Regan

Lesson Goals

Students will create a short dance that communicates abstract ideas.
Students will use spatial design and relationships to while dancing and choreographing.
Students will explore the elements of dance and its connection to language.

This is lesson one of a unit. This unit explores the ideas of how lines can connect us, separate us, divide us, unit us and are woven through our world. Dancers explore line through dance, visual art and language art, as they “read between the lines” using their senses, imagination and creativity to have a conversation with their audience.


Chart paper
Colored pencils
Sticky notes
Variety of music without words
Open space
Drawing paper
Photos of lines in our world
Art work (Piet Mondrian, Broadway Boogie Woogie 1942-43; Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, June 1889; Wassily Kandinsky, Transverse Line, 1923)


Have students write down a response to “A line is . . .” (use sticky notes)
Write the essential question on the board, or ask it as a thought question before students enter the room.
Essential Question: How are lines like life?

Activity 1
Place 5 chart papers on the floor around the room – ask students to respond to what is written on each paper. They may respond in words, pictures, feelings . . . even to other dancer’s responses. Tell students to not write their names.

When a line bends a shape begins
When lines move a dance emerges
When lines fills the air a song comes to be
Where lines cross opportunities live

Ask each student to select a different colored pencil (this way you can make sure everyone participated without it feeling like they are being graded)
Discuss responses and how they shaped their “LINE” of thinking, ideas and feelings.
Close your eyes and think about lines in your life. Lines can touch, connect, separate, divide, entangle, stand still, disappear, block, twist, turn, guide . . . .
Ask students to think about question, “When lines . . . touch, disappear, connect what happens? Create your own lines of life poem.”

Activity 2: Movement Improvisation, Elements of Space and Design
Teacher lead – “drawing” lines with body parts. Imagine you put a pencil on the tip of you elbows- create vertical horizontal diagonal circular spiral zig zag dashed and dotted lines in your space. Now try it slowly move pencil to head, foot knee stomach finger . . . and repeat
Draw lines (pathways) that bring you into and out of our dance space-entrances and exits, that connect you with others, move parallel to someone, perpendicular, circle around, circle with move in opposite lines-up/down, right/left ,diagonal . . .
Dancer will use movement ideas discovered during “line” improve to create a short dance that communicate the abstract idea of Lines. First create a class dance combination. (unison).
Students select 4-6 shape/movement designs to create a “line” dance. You must use a variety of locomotor, non locomotor and still shapes.

Activity 3: Informance and Sharing
Look for “lines” while observing other students dances.
Have dancers do their Informance dances using a variety of spatial designs and structure.
Solo: only one dances
Duet: 2 dance facing opposite directions facing the same way, close to one another or on different parts of the stage.
Trio: 3 dancers one dancer begins and after 5-10 seconds the 2nd dancers begins and then the 3rd.
Ensemble: perform all facing same direction. (class dance) have all but one person dance close together and facing the same direction have one away from the group and facing away from the group.
Discuss how using a variety of spatial lines affects what is communicated.
In small groups choreograph a dance combination that combines individual sequences and uses parts of the class choreography.
Share dances with class.

Activity 4: Self Assessment
Based on creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking. Assessment of self, others and whole class.

Differentiation Approaches

1. Dancers can work in heterogeneous groups or with partners to highlight individual strengths and connect them with people who have different strengths.
2. Use sentence starters to help students who have language deficits.
3. Use pictures and movement to reinforce concepts.


Responses and reflections to performance task (choreography) and Lines of Life poem

Follow Up and Extension Ideas

Other dance lessons related to ELA.

Additional Details

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