This is an excerpt from Lesson Plans for Creative Dance by Sally Carline.
The Little Chinook
Gigue from Sonata Op. 5, No. 9: Corelli
You can build the lesson plans based on this suggested progression:
1. Bounce, bounce, bounce, spin, skip } (section A)
2. Freeze 6 counts
3. Blow, melt } (section B)
4. Rush, blow, melt
Link 4, 3
Run } (section C)
Link 1, 2, 3, 4
5. Creep 4 counts } (section D)
1. Bounce, Bounce, Bounce, Spin, Skip (First Part of Section A)
Starting in their own spaces, the children can explore bouncing. Bounces are jumps that use a two-foot takeoff and a two-foot landing. They need to practice bouncing high and landing lightly with bent knees. If the children are bouncing on the spot, suggest that they travel and then extend this to bouncing from side to side. After a little practice, with reminders for improving the quality of the action, ask them all to be ready to bounce in a zigzag pathway, using only three bounces (give a clear rhythm with drum or claves). You can give a hint of the story by mentioning that a tiny, light drop of water is bouncing from rock to rock to rock.
Next, explore a whirlpool spin. This needs to be a wide-open spin on the spot. The children should start in a ready-to-spin shape and then spin quickly and smoothly for about 4 beats, freezing their shapes at the end. Over time, you may wish to introduce levels also—a whirlpool that starts high and spins lower—as long as they remain on their feet because of the skipping that will eventually follow. At this point it’s a good idea to link the phrase of three bounces with the whirlpool spin and then play with skipping along a weaving pathway. Link the sequence of those three actions, giving the children a rhythm close to that of the music (see figure 9.9).
Now they need to hear the music, at which time you can explain the first part of the story about the little drop of water daring to go off alone. It’s a good idea to let the second part of section A play too (see figure 9.10) so that the children know what comes next and that they are going to freeze! Then, back in the space, they get ready to bounce and try the phrase with the music a few times.
2. Freeze 6 Counts (Second Part of Section A)
While they are working in their own spaces once again and starting from a standing position, tell the children that when they hear a sudden beat (claves or drum), bend an elbow suddenly and hold that shape tight. To encourage variety, ask them to stand straight again, and this time suddenly to bend the elbow but put it in a different place in relation to their bodies. Pointing out a few interesting ones (e.g., in front of the body, very high) should help them with ideas. Now, holding that shape, ask them to add to it by suddenly bending another part (head, knee, other elbow). Then ask them to stand straight again, tell them that they will have 6 beats for the drop of water to freeze, one body part at a time. Look at the results, which should be angular shapes at a variety of levels, probably looking quite awkward and uncomfortable, but frozen! Try it again a few times so that the children can consciously decide which part to freeze, where, and in which order. Now they can link the whole A phrase of the music (see figure 9.11).
3. Blow, Melt (Second Part of Section B)
This is a good time to explore the melting process, because like the freezing, it happens one part at a time. From their frozen shapes, tell them that you are going to blow a warm wind on one body part (their choice) and that as you do, that part will suddenly flop because it has thawed. This takes a bit of practice, as it is hard to maintain a firm tension in some parts of the body while allowing another part to lose tension, but it is fun, and they will succeed, especially if they see a couple of clear examples. Try again, freezing for 6 beats, then thawing for 6 beats.
4. Rush, Blow, Melt (Section B)
Now the children need to find a partner, and instead of the teacher being the chinook that thaws the frozen drop of water, one of them will do it! One child (1) needs to freeze (for 6 beats) and the other, starting a little way from the partner (2), sees what has happened and rushes quickly and lightly straight to the rescue and gently blows directly toward, for instance, an elbow (which flops), then a knee (which flops), a hand (which flops) and so on, 6 times until the thawing process is complete. Let them try that again a couple of times, then switch roles and practice some more.
Next, the children can gather to listen to the music from the beginning while you expand the story line and they dance with their fingers. Partner 2 starts in a shape watching 1 as he or she bounces, spins, skips, and freezes; then 2 rushes to the rescue and blows to melt 1. (This sounds complex, but it seems logical to the children in the context of the story.) When 1 has thawed, the two partners run happily, weaving close together through the space as they travel downstream.
Let them listen again as you watch for understanding, verbalizing the action in the context of the story, and then let the music run on as the whole process starts again, but this time 2 is the one to bounce away on his or her own!
Now with their partners, they can go back into the space, one with feet together ready to bounce, the other one watching closely, and try the first two ABC sections in sequence.
5. Creep 4 Counts, Rush (Section D)
At this point in the story, the individual droplets of water still haven’t learned that it’s not a good idea to go off alone in really cold weather. This time, however, they creep away, so the children need to explore this action in the context of the story.
The creeping is light, quiet, but fairly quick, so the children can practice by focusing on raising a knee and placing the foot quietly down, then the next, and so on. As they show control of their knees and feet, suggest that they might step to the side sometimes so that they have to think about where they are traveling as well as how. You may introduce this during another lesson. Starting again, tell them that they have only 4 beats to creep away, then pause (see figure 9.12), and practice it to that rhythm.
Now they can work with their partner again, and 1 will creep away, then 2 rush toward her or his partner, saying, “No no no no no no no!” This causes a fair amount of excitement as one droplet of water creeps mischievously away and the other tries to prevent it. But, the second time, which is immediately, 2 creeps away and 1 rushes in admonishing with “No no no no no no no!”
This whole sequence happens again (see figure 9.13). They take turns being sensible, then brave (or foolish).
After they explore this section and you explain the music and story and have them practice in the space, the children will have played with all the movement ideas in the dance.
The final part of the music is ABC again, and still little droplet 1 hasn’t learned that unless it stays with another droplet, it will freeze! So, they repeat the original sequence until, at the very end, with section C1, the two droplets run close together a long way down the stream.
Once you really know the music for this dance, it is logical! The children, as usual, learn the music sections quickly, helped by the story. The unusual partner relationship in this is exciting.
Learn more about Lesson Plans for Creative Dance.