Dance / Gesture / Movement Techniques

Below is a compilation of techniques suggested by Phyllis Wezeman and participants in seminars she has led about the Rotation Model and using "movement" to teach Bible stories.

THE "MOVEMENT" WORKSHOP in the Rotation Model, grew out of our understanding of Howard Gardner's groundbreaking work in the SEVEN INTELLIGENCES. Movement is not only fun and focusing, it stimulates learning and memory --or what Gardner identifies as our "Kinesthetic" learning abilities ("intelligence"). Read more about the 7 intelligences and the Rotation Model.

If you've ever taught "motions" to a song, you have worked with Movement as an intelligence. Expressive and rhythmic movements are particularly good "memory makers" as they tap into our brain's love of storing memories that have emotional and musical connections.

While a "Movement Workshop" in the Rotation Model would focus on movement as the main learning activity, movement learning techniques are more typically incorporated in other workshops as well, such as drama or music workshops, and even Game workshops. The key is intentionality. For more info on the Movement Workshop, scroll down to Amy Crane's description.

The following is a list of "ideas for moving" brainstormed in a seminar:


Animal imitation
Balloons
Blindfolded movement
Body socks
Cheerleading
Choreography
Creative Movement
Dance
Dance-A-Thon
Echo
Ethnic
Expressions
Field trips
Finger plays
Folk
Game
Genga
Gestures
HipHop movements
Hokey Pokey
Hora
Hula hoops
Hymns
Jazz
Kids in motion
Line dancing
Liturgical dance
Marching
Mime
Move with story from location to location
Movement to depict creation story -- after viewing video
Movements
Music
Music video - simple motions
Pantomine
Performance
Pilgrimage
Popular/Traditional Dances
Praising
Pyramids
Relay races
Rhythm Instruments
Rhythm Sticks
Scarves
Scavenger hunts
Scripture interpretation
Sculpture
Shadow
Sign Langauge
Snaking
Streamers
Tag
Tap
Tap dance

Original Post

Moderator notes: The following material was written by Amy Crane and originally presented in a Movement lesson on The Sermon on the Mount/The Lord's Prayer. We figured it was an important enough piece to place it here in this spot!


 What is Creative Movement?

Amy Crane By Amy Crane

Copyright 2001 Amy Crane. Permission granted to freely distribute and use for non-profit use, provided this copyright message is included.
 

Creative movement is a way of moving our bodies to show feelings. The goal is not a polished performance, but an visual expression of our understanding of God's word. There are no right or wrong movements. We were created as individuals, each of us different, and we create as individuals.

"For teachers who may feel intimidated or overwhelmed by the idea of using movement and creative improvisation as a teaching tool, remember that you do not have to do the movement yourselves. The children will supply all the physicality needed for a successful lesson. Your job is to supply the direction, the guided imagery, the permission to be physical, and an encouraging gleam in your eye. The idea is not to have the children imitate your movements, but to discover their own physical language" (Griss).

Outcomes of kinesthetic learning include "increased comprehension. Interpreting a concept through physical means ... helps children - especially those at the elementary age level -- to grasp, internalize, and maintain abstract information" (Griss).

Creative movement is:

  • improvisational
  • not permanent
  • spontaneous
  • experiencing
  • experimenting

"Creative Movement ... is oriented towards diversification rather than uniformity" (Exiner, page 64).

Ways to help the leader "direct" the creative movement activity:

  • There is "safety" in numbers, but there may be more creativity shown when children are not watching to see if they are doing the same thing as everyone else. Consider the personality of the class when deciding whether to do exercises individually, in small groups, or as a large group.
  • After experimenting with subject and movement, students "will take the step of selecting movements which they feel express most sensitively and clearly what they wish to ‘say,' and of organizing them into a coherent and distinctive pattern" (Exiner, page 3).
  • "Students should be given complete freedom as to how they interpret a given topic. Guidance from the teacher should be directed towards making them clarify their own movements with regard to the way they use their bodies and apply basic movement principles. As students are not taught any specific steps, there is no need to be concerned about overtaxing physical and intellectual abilities" (Exiner, page 46).
  • "Creative Movement is often associated with practices such as ‘being a tree,' which invariably result in students remaining on one spot and waving their arms from side to side. This interpretation could at best be described as an attempt at mime, but certainly not as an experience in Creative Movement."

Use movement analysis: break the content into components (trunk, branches, leaves) and explore the space, force, time, and fluidity of each component. For example, explore the concepts of leaves blowing in the winds, branches reaching for the sun and rain, the tree as the seasons progress. Then, interpret the object "using a wide range of Body Activities to express the movement qualities it contains. . . Movement analysis is instrumental in freeing Movement from being imitative and therefore allows for a much more imaginative and original interpretation of any theme" (Exiner, page 44).

  • "Any topic should be seen as a question for which the answer has to be found in Movement. The students' imagination [sic] may need supporting comments from the teacher, which may be expressed in terms such as: " is there perhaps another way of ‘saying' what you mean?". "Does this (particular movement) ‘feel right' to you?", "Should you use more Space?", "Less speed?", etc. On the other hand, too many remarks may be restrictive to some students, for they may not have had sufficient time to explore one idea before another is suggested to them. In the main, however, students learn to disregard some of these comments and only use the ones that appear relevant to the movement task they are working on" (Exiner, page 35).
  • "Dance studies on themes [from the world around] are best encouraged by the comment ‘can you feel yourself moving like (the model you observe)?' rather than ‘imagine yourself being . . .'. Dancing, by being more symbolic, is a very different process from miming, which primarily aims at imitating. This does not rule out the fact that much can be learned from copying, for it requires close observation, leading to a greater understanding of the movements of a given subject. It also teaches one to be more precise as one is expected to adhere to the movement patterns of the model. Copying, used with discretion, can be a valuable addition to creative practices" (Exiner, page 38).

Ways to move creatively to interpret an object or topic:

  • Use a single body shape or activity to interpret the topic.
  • explore other ways to express the object; for example, move like it.
  • experiment with sequences; for example, move like the object and then end with the ‘shape' of the object.

Other thoughts:

  • "We consider facial expression to be a part of Movement experience, yet we feel that it should not be as dominant as it is in mime" (Exiner, page 41).
  • Creative movement may be used to explore the world within (thoughts and emotions), as well as objects in the world around us. These will be very personal interpretations, as we all experience anger, sadness, etc. differently. In addition, "movement can also create emotions. Rocking will evoke a feeling of tranquility or reflection, lashing out a feeling of aggression; narrow movements may lead to tension, wide movements to a feeling of freedom and release" (Exiner, page 40).
  • Combine a feeling with an activity to help the students explore the world within: "‘sitting sadly', ‘stamping angrily' or ‘jumping excitedly.' This can be followed up with short sequences, e.g., a ‘sad walk ending in a sad sinking,' ‘a happy whirling -- running and jumping -- ending with a gesture of welcome'" (Exiner, page 41).
  • Exiner divides movements into these five body activities: experiment with sequences; for example, move like the object and then end with the ‘shape' of the object.
    • locomotion: various ways to move across the floor
    • turning: change the way the body faces
    • elevation
    • falls
    • gesture
  • Laban and Carpenter describe eight working actions for voice and movement:  object and then end with the ‘shape' of the object.
    • punching (strong, direct, quick)
    • pressing (strong, direct, sustained)
    • slashing (strong, flexible, quick)
    • wringing (strong, flexible, sustained)
    • dabbing (light, direct, quick)
    • gliding (light, direct, sustained)
    • flicking (light, flexible, quick)
    • floating (light, flexible, sustained)

These types of movements should occur high, low and in-between. Encourage the students to try mixing them together to add variety to their movements.

Resources:

Exiner, Johanna and Phyllis Lloyd. Teaching Creative Movement. Boston: Plays, Inc., 1974.
Griss, Susan. "Creative Movement: A Language for Learning." Educational Leadership, 51: 5 (February 1994), pages 78-81.

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