Exploring Islamic Art and Artifacts through Dance

Unit Overview

Created in Partnership with:

This Ontario Ministry of Education resource was prepared by teachers, for teachers in partnership with the Aga Khan Museum. Curriculum resources were inspired by the Museum’s Permanent Collection. Object information and images courtesy of the Aga Khan Museum.

Abstract

Islamic art is comprised of art and architecture built in countries where Islam was the dominant religion but is not limited to art created by the followers of Islam. Islamic art encompasses art created by artists of other faiths residing in countries within the Islamic world. Therefore, the term Islamic art includes works created by Jews, Christians, Hindus etc. living in the Islamic world. Thus, one must understand the plurality of Islamic art and at the same time the congruency of art in neighbouring countries and empires at similar time periods in history.

Source:  Kana'an, Ruba, and Patricia Bentley. Learning at the Aga Khan Museum: A Curriculum Resource Guide for Teachers, Grades One to Eight. Toronto, Ontario: Aga Khan Museum, 2015. Print.

Islamic art and architecture varies across time and culture in addition to the regional availability of materials and what was stylistically in fashion. The play of light is also a key element incorporated into architectural designs. Geometric forms and patterns such as stars and polygon mosaics are also recognizable traits in Islamic architecture. The objects selected reflect the diversity of the Muslim empires as well as the interaction between various peoples around the world.

Connections to Inquiry-based learning

In this unit, students will:

  • Research various artifacts housed at the Aga Khan Museum to gain a deeper understanding of the forms and patterns that embody Islamic art and architecture
  • Experiment with dance forms and elements to uncover and explore meaning in Islamic art and architecture
  • Explore the use of light in Islamic art and architecture and discover ways in which light can be used in movement to create meaning

Note: Teacher may use BLM #1 - Engaging Students in Inquiry-Based Learning to guide students in their inquiry

Lesson 1 - Choreography: Exploring Forms and Shapes in Islamic Art and Architecture

‘Big Questions’ of this Lesson

  1. How might we use two and three-dimensional artifacts from Islamic art to create and inspire movement sequences?
  2. What is the role or purpose of light in Islamic art and architecture?
  3. What might light symbolize?
  4. What role does light play in our daily life?

Note: Teachers who have previous knowledge or can research the significance of this Surah or Chapter in the Qur’an may find the verses helpful to connect the religious reference. To refrain from misinformation, if a teacher doesn’t feel knowledgeable on this topic they may omit it. ”Surah An-Nur (The Light)” from the Holy Qur’an embodies the symbolism of light in Islam.  Play the surah for the students to hear. Additional Note: Some believe Qur’anic verses should be discarded by throwing them in water, others feel it can be recycled, and still others believe it is forbidden to discard paper containing quranic verses.  Use discretion in this area.

Curriculum Expectations

Dance Grade 11, Overall Expectations

  • A1. The Creative Process: use the creative process, the elements of dance, and a variety of sources to develop movement vocabulary;
  • A2. Choreography and Composition: combine the elements of dance in a variety of ways in composing individual and ensemble dance creations;
  • C2. Contexts and Influences: demonstrate an understanding of the social, cultural, and historical origins and development of dance forms, including their influence on each other and on society;
Dance, Grade 11 Specific Expectations
  • A1.1 use the elements of dance to develop and perform a series of connected dance phrases inspired by a source
  • A1.2 create and perform phrases that combine the elements of dance in a variety of ways
  • A2.2 create a dance composition inspired by a source
  • C2.3 identify ways in which dance genres they have studied have challenged social or cultural stereotypes or boundaries in the arts

Dance Grade 12, Overall Expectations

  • A1. The Creative Process: use the creative process, the elements of dance, and a variety of sources to develop movement vocabulary;
  • A2. Choreography and Composition: combine the elements of dance in a variety of ways in composing individual and ensemble dance creations;
  • A4. Performance: apply dance presentation skills in a variety of contexts and performances.
  • B1. The Critical Analysis Process: use the critical analysis process to reflect on and evaluate their own and others’ dance works and activities;
  • C1. Physiology and Terminology: demonstrate an understanding of, and use correct terminology when referring to, the physiology of movement as it relates to dance;
Dance, Grade 12, Specific expectations
  • A1.1 use the elements of dance to create and perform abstract dance phrases inspired by a theme of personal significance (e.g., a theme suggested by an environmental or social issue or by a composition of a favourite dance group)
  • A1.2 create and perform complex phrases that combine and manipulate the elements of dance in a variety of ways (e.g., generate dance vocabulary using variations and mixtures of different aspects of the elements, such as body actions, locomotor steps, direction, level, floor and air patterns, structured and unstructured space, symmetry and asymmetry, individual and group shapes, tempo, accent, movement qualities, relationships/groupings)
  • A1.3 use the elements of dance to generate and perform complex dance vocabulary through solo or ensemble improvisation and experimentation (e.g., in pairs, use action/reaction during contact improvisation to explore movement possibilities)
  • A2.1 use a variety of choreographic forms, structures, and techniques to create and perform complex dance works (e.g., in pairs, use ABACA [rondo] form as a basis for an original composition)
  • A4.2 use a variety of tools of stagecraft in increasingly complex or imaginative ways to enhance their dance performances
  • B1.2 develop appropriate criteria and use them to interpret, analyse, and evaluate both the content and the fluency or expressiveness of a broad range of student compositions (e.g., criteria such as use of props, dynamics, interpretive skills)
  • C1.2 analyse and explain movement patterns using correct biomechanical terminology

Learning Goals

By the end of the lesson, students will:

  • Have an understanding of the forms, shapes and patterns in Islamic artifacts and architecture.
  • Be able to create a series of dance phrases inspired by an artifact discovered at the Aga Khan Museum.
  • Have an understanding of the context behind certain artifacts including the diversity of art in found in various Islamic empires around the world.

Instructional Components and Context

Readiness

  • Familiarize students with basic information about Monotheistic faiths, in particular Islam.
  • Ensure students are familiar with the elements of dance.

Terminology

  • See terms sheet in Aga Khan Museum curriculum resource guide for teachers

Materials

  • Projector, laptop, Aga Khan Museum curriculum resource guide for teachers
  • Colour copies of selected images for student use Aga Khan Museum Artifacts  
  • Tape

Lesson Plan

Minds On

Whole Class > Mirroring

Begin class with the mirror exerciseelements of dance followed by a whole group discussion.

Instruct  students to pair up and begin with stationary movements with A leading and then B. Next, direct students to continue the mirror exercise, this time moving around space of the classroom. Next, direct students to explore the elements of dance as they move. The students should consider direction, body, energy, space, time and relationship as they share leadership in the mirror exercise. Side coach by reminding students to use both positive and negative space, different levels and all space in the dance studio classroom. Following the exercise, lead a consolidation discussion with the students using the following prompts.

Teacher prompts:

What did you notice about the mirror exercise?
Was it easy or difficult to follow the leader?  To lead?
Was the transferring of leadership seamless?
Was there a definite beginning and end?

Pairs and Whole Class > Discussion

Project photographs of two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects and architecture housed at the Aga Khan Museum in addition to photos of mosques from around the world onto a whiteboard. Ask students to identify common themes or shapes in the objects and artifacts.  

Suggested Artifacts:

 

 

Note: An extension to this Minds on activity would be projecting the images around the class and instructing students to trace and colour/paint in the images.

Think, Pair, Share > Discussion

Pair students and instruct each pair to select a two-dimensional or three-dimensional object from the images shared.  Then, using the think, pair, share strategy, ask students to reflect and record their responses to the questions below, individually and then together.  Next, as a class have each pair share their responses.

Teacher prompts:  

Where do you think this object came from? What might the object be used for?
What shapes or patterns do you see?
What do you notice about the patterns or designs of this object?
Can you tell what is written on the object? What language might it be?

Whole class > Discussion and Gallery Walk

Provide background information on the objects chosen (details are in the links to the objects).  Provide background information on Islam and explain the importance of objects in Islamic art. Post colour prints of the objects from the Aga Khan collection throughout the class for visual reference.

Have students complete a Gallery Walk, where they read information about all the images of Islamic artifacts that are posted around the classroom. After exploring all the options, ask the students to gather in the centre of the room. Tell them that they will become experts on one of the artifacts displayed around the room. Use a prompt such as a keyword (Go) or a sound (bell) to signal students to position themselves in front of the object they would like to choose. They will be responsible for teaching the others about the details of their object.

Key Questions for Discussion:

What do you already know about Islam? What do you wonder about Islam?
How might these objects connect people of different faiths and backgrounds?
Where else have you seen these types of shapes, designs or patterns?
How might light reflect on the coloured tiles?
How might light reflect through the geometrical shapes and patterns?

Note: Decide how many artifacts to post in the Gallery Walk and how many students may work together in their expert groups.

Assessment for learning

Moderate a discussion using prompts to assess existing student knowledge as well as comprehension of material.  Students will assess their own level of knowledge of art and Islam through discussion and observation

Completion of the Gallery Walk Graphic Organizer.

Action!

Small Groups > Creating a movement/dance sequence

Review the elements of dance, compositional manipulations and compositional conventions.

Instruct two or three pairs to combine to form a group of 4-6 students to collaborate and create a movement/dance sequence.  Ask students to share the objects they chose and select one or both objects to inspire their movement phrase. Instruct students to select at least one element of dance to focus on and to choose one compositional manipulative and one compositional convention to guide their creative process in the composition of their movement phrase. Provide students with examples of compositional manipulatives including the following techniques to create their movement phrase: flocking, repetition, cannon.  See Review of compositional forms

Instruct students to recreate an element of light either natural or artificial to incorporate into their movement phrase. It may help to brainstorm ideas for students to share with each other. For example, students could use a flashlight to create patterns of light, students may choose to open shades or curtains but turn off all classroom lights. Where is the light focused? In front or behind the performers? Below or above the performers? It may be helpful to show video examples highlighting various used of light. See Amazing Tron DanceLED Schuhe Tanz ChoreographieContemporary Dance Lighting Example

Small Group > Inquiry and Research into Movement Phrase

Students will continue self-directed research using teacher prompts to complete further inquiry into the shapes and objects used in Islamic art and architecture. Students will create a movement phrase based on their research that incorporates shapes and patterns found in Islamic art and Architecture paying close attention to the use of light in their performance. See BLM #5 - Exploring forms and shapes in Islamic Art and Architecture Rubric

Teacher Prompts:

Consider the following:

Where does the shape/pattern start and end?
How many different lines, shapes or colours intersect?
What is the relationship between the patterns in your object?
What energy does the object produce and why?
What movement qualities would you associate with you chosen object?

Extension

Ask students to incorporate the excerpt from the poem In Your Light, by Muslim poet Moulana Muhammad Jalaluddin Rumi (Profile:RumiBiography/Jalal-al-Din-al-Rumi).  Students might recite the lines of the poetry within their movement piece or incorporate their interpretation of the metaphors in their dance phrase. Incorporating the excerpt could also be the use of one word or line that stands out to the students acting as a soundscape for their piece.

In Your Light - Rumi
In your light, I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you,
but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.       ― Rumi

Consolidation

Whole Class > Discussion

Discuss with students the connections between the art and objects and movement and dance.  

Key Questions for Discussion

What connection do you see between movement in dance and two/three dimensional objects?

How do patterns and shapes inspire or create movement?

What role did light play in your movement phrase?

Connections

Students will connect art and artifacts of the Islamic world to:

  • light in performance connecting religious text and dance
  • Dance and community
  • Dance and group movement
  • Dance and other art forms such as music and visual art

Differentiation

  • Students could film their choreographed performance and share it with the class.
  • Students may choose to choreograph a site specific performance piece.
  • Teacher may show video clips of performers and have them write a critical analysis of the performance.
  • Students may perform in pairs to support students with mobility challenges.

Assessment for learning

Students will share their prior knowledge about Islam using diagnostic assessment in whole class brainstorm on the board.

Assessment as learning

Students will demonstrate an understanding of two and three dimensional objects through discussion and Gallery Walk. See BLM #4 - Gallery Walk: Graphic Organizer

Assessment of learning

Students will be assessed on their choreography inspired by an artifact from the Aga Khan Museum using the Rubric of Criteria found in BLM #5 - Exploring forms and shapes in Islamic Art and Architecture Rubric

Lesson 2 - Choreography: Transmission of Knowledge through Text

Lesson Overview

Connections to Inquiry Learning

This lesson aims to explore manuscripts and texts housed at the Aga Khan Museum to engage in a deeper understanding of how knowledge was transmitted to people living in the Islamic world.

Connections to Inquiry-based learning

In this unit, students will:

  • Explore various manuscripts and texts housed at the Aga Khan Museum or extensions of Islamic art found in various other places (libraries, online, etc.) to gain a deeper understanding of Islamic art forms in Persia
  • Experiment with Islamic manuscripts and texts  to uncover and explore meaning in Islamic culture
  • Create movement phrases using the elements of dance inspired by chosen manuscripts and/or texts

Note: Teacher may use BLM #1 - Engaging Students in Inquiry-Based Learning to guide their students in their inquiry.  Engaging Students in Inquiry Based Learning is another resource that can be of use.

‘Big Questions’ of this Lesson

  • How might knowledge be transmitted through movement?
  • What role did the Silk Route play in the transmission of knowledge?
  • How might you, your family, and your community share knowledge?
  • What does the poetry of Rumi and Hafez tell us about the values of Islam and art?
  • What are some of the big themes found in the poetry of Rumi and/or Hafez?

Curriculum Expectations

Dance Grade 11, Overall Expectations

 

  • A1. The Creative Process: use the creative process, the elements of dance, and a variety of sources to develop movement vocabulary;
  • A2. Choreography and Composition: combine the elements of dance in a variety of ways in composing individual and ensemble dance creations;
Dance, Grade 11 Specific Expectations

 

  • A1.1 use the elements of dance to create and perform increasingly complex dance phrases inspired by a theme
  • A1.2 create and perform increasingly complex phrases that combine and manipulate the elements of dance in a variety of ways
  • A2.2 create a complex dance composition that explores a self- or teacher-selected theme

 

Dance Grade 12, Overall Expectations

  • A1. The Creative Process: use the creative process, the elements of dance, and a variety of sources to develop movement vocabulary;
  • A2. Choreography and Composition: combine the elements of dance in a variety of ways in composing individual and ensemble dance creations;
Dance, Grade 12 Specific Expectations

 

  • A1.1 use the elements of dance to create and perform abstract dance phrases inspired by a theme of personal significance
  • A1.2 create and perform complex phrases that combine and manipulate the elements of dance in a variety of ways
  • A2.1 use a variety of choreographic forms, structures, and techniques to create and perform complex dance works

 

Learning Goals

By the end of the lesson, students will:

  • Become familiar with various poetic works of Rumi and Hafez
  • Be able to create a movement phrase inspired by a source
  • Compare themes in poems Islamic and Sufi writers to Indigenous poetry from Canada
  • Be able to discuss and identify ways and means of transmitting knowledge differently and how these can reflect our family, community, and culture

Instructional Components and Context

Readiness

  • Students will have already worked with the elements of dance and compositional forms
  • Students will have already created choreographies based on other themes/inspirations
  • Students will have already worked in large and small discussion groups
  • Students will need to be reminded of choral speaking techniques

Terminology

Materials

  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Persian Music (to be used throughout the lesson during Minds On activities and during the choreographic process and for performance)

Lesson Plan

Minds On

Whole Class > Magic Floor Exercise

Ask students to gather at one side of the room and line up against the wall.  Ask students to imagine the floor (or the entire room) is magic and can be turned into anything the teacher says - you may also ask students to contribute here after modelling it first. Students must move across the floor in response to the word given.

Say, “Imagine that the floor is...LAVA!” Students will most likely scream and move across the floor in fast staccato movement. Once all students are at the other side of the room, the teacher will prompt again by saying, “Imagine that the floor is covered with....ICE!” Students will likely make slipping and falling motions. Teacher continues saying different things the floor could be to illicit dance movement in response to text.

Small Group > Word Bank creation

After Magic Floor, students will get into small groups and write the words used in the exercise on chart paper. Students will now create a list of describing words for each word used in Magic Floor. For example, for “LAVA” students will likely list words like “hot, fire, red” etc. Students are modelling for themselves how to create a word bank to use to inspire new movement in their choreographies.  Share the words with the whole class

Key Questions for Discussion:

What was the first word/image/feeling that came to your mind when you heard “LAVA, ICE…?”
Was it difficult or easy connecting these words to movement?
How did you use positive and negative space in your movements?
Did you use different levels? Why or why not?
Did you or some of your peers make vocalized sounds when you heard the words? If so, why might this be the case?

Small Groups > Painting Analysis Discussion

Provide students with images of suggested paintings from the Aga Khan Museum, permanent collection, Iran. Ask students to work in groups of 3-4 and write down everything they notice about the painting using the Graphic Organizer provided in BLM #6 - Paintings from Iran. For example, what do they see? Are there common colours or characters? Themes?

Suggested paintings:
Teacher prompts:

Who is in this painting?
What do you think is happening in this painting and why?
What might this tell you about the time period?
What was the purpose of these paintings? What do they tell us about the way knowledge and information was transmitted?

Individual Students > Researching a Painting

After examining at the painting of their choice, give each student a piece of paper on which to write two words that describe the painting, using the teacher prompts as a guide. Students exploring similar paintings may gather around one of the paintings and tape their descriptive words around it. As a group, students must choose three (or more) words that represent the feelings/impressions evoked by that work. The chosen words will then be used for choreographic inspiration.

Ask students to use the Internet to visit the Aga Khan Museum website. Ask them to locate their chosen painting and find out more about the painting. Students may use the graphic organizer, BLM #6 - Paintings from Iran, to record their research.

Teacher prompts

After reading about your painting, what new information did you discover?
What were the similarities and differences between your first impressions of the paintings and what you read on the Aga Khan Museum website?
What characteristics of these paintings are specific to the Iranian style of art?

Possible Extension:

Extend the lesson by assigning student-led inquiry about the status and value of the arts in Iran during the 15-18th century.

Extend the lesson with discussion on Aestheticism and Sufism through guest performer, a Sufi dancer or scholar.

Action!

Small Groups > Challenging/Inspiring Poetry in Motion

Hand out a variety of Rumi and Hafez poetry (BLM #7 - Poems).  Choose 2-3 for the class to read together in choral speaking. Tell the students that they may stand (or sit) in a variety of ways: in a circle, spread across the room, or facing multiple corners/directions.

Group students into groups of 3-5, and instruct them to choose the poem that resonates with them the most and discuss their reasons for choosing that particular poem. Give students time to discuss the meaning of their poems.

Have students read their poems out loud to the rest of the class and provide their explanation for their choice.

Ask students to select keywords/themes from their poem and write these down on chart paper. Next, ask them to brainstorm descriptive words in response to the words/themes chosen in their poem. Have them create a word bank from which they can pull from during the choreographic process.

Instruct students to begin to create their movement pieces using their poems, word banks, elements of dance, and compositional forms.

Instruct students to use their voices to recite part or all of their poems (one word, one line, or the entirety of the poem to create a vocalized soundscape independent of or in conjunction with Persian music).

Teacher prompts:

How will you embed the text in your movement?
What arrangements will you choose?
Will you make use of repetition/echo?
How will you use dynamics (volume, pace, pitch, tone) to create tension and interest that    
compliment your movement?
What meaning will your text bring to your movement phrase?

Small Group > Choreography of Poetry in Motion

Give students the next 3-4 class periods to work on their 2-minute choreographies.  

Suggested Poetry can be found in BLM #7 - Poems.

The teacher will provide ongoing feedback to groups, assisting them to heighten their choreographies and embedded poetry. At a midway point, instruct students to provide written feedback to each other. This may be conducted by groups writing the feedback together and providing it to the teacher who can mediate the feedback. BLM #8 - Poetry in Motion Choreography Peer Feedback Form is provided for this purpose.  

Extension

Teacher may select poems from Indigenous writers based on the themes discovered in Rumi and Hafez’s poetry and make critical connections with the students. What are some big themes found in Indigenous poetry about God/spirituality? Compare and contrast these two cultures.

Source links

CBC - 7 Must See Canadian Poetry Performances

Aboriginal Poets: Vera Wabegijig

Tea and Bannock Stories: First Nations Community of Poetic Voices

Consolidation

Individual > Journal Questions

Ask students to write their own personal responses in a journal for assessment.

Teacher Prompts

What does the poetry of Rumi and/or Hafez tell us about the time period in Iran?
What does the poetry tell us about that particular time in Islamic history?
How does their poetry help you understand Sufism?
How has Rumi and Hafez’s poetry challenged your biases about Islam? How does it differ from you are shown in mainstream media?

Connections

This lesson connects to the first lesson where forms and patterns of Islamic art and architecture were used in choreography. In this lesson, students scaffold their learning by adding text and vocalizing poetry created in Iran at the time period in which the paintings, manuscripts, and texts were produced.

Differentiation

Students can make use of graphic organizers to organize and gather their observations, and may also watch recordings/performances of poetry and/or dance choreographies on their mobile devices. Students can also make voice recordings of their observations about the paintings, pair up with another student, or have the entire group work together to make observations and have one recorder write down what is seen. Discussion prompts can be made into journal topics and written responses created by students.

Assessment for learning

Students will be assessed on the movements and words brainstormed in the Minds On activities. This assessment will be informal and given to students orally.

Assessment as learning

Ongoing verbal and/or written descriptive feedback will be provided by the teacher at all stages of the process. At the midway point, the teacher may ask groups to do a showing, where students show their work in progress for teacher and peer constructive criticism, both orally and written. Students will perform their pieces for an audience of their classmates. The rubric provided can be used for this assessment (BLM #6 - Paintings from Iran).

Assessment of learning

Students will write a reflection and response to the Key Questions For Discussion. Assess achievement of performance using the criteria outlined in BLM #9 - Poetry in Motion: Performance Assessment Rubric.

Lesson 3 - Choreography: Dancing Fountains - Site-Specific Performance

Lesson Overview

Connections to Inquiry Learning

Big Questions:

  • Fountains are often community spaces in Islamic culture. What are some community spaces in your school?
  • What does water represent in Islamic tradition? What does water represent in secular western society?
  • What is the role of water in Islamic traditions and architecture?
  • Where is water located in your school?
  • How can site-specific choreography cultivate a sense of community in your school?

Curriculum Expectations

ATC30 Overall Expectations

  • A1. The Creative Process: use the creative process, the elements of dance, and a variety of sources to develop movement vocabulary;
  • A2. Choreography and Composition: combine the elements of dance in a variety of ways in composing individual and ensemble dance creations;
  • A4. Performance: apply dance presentation skills in a variety of contexts and performances.
  • B2. Dance and Society: demonstrate an understanding of how societies present and past use or have used dance, and of how creating and viewing dance can benefit individuals, groups, and communities;
ATC30 Specific Expectations
  • A1.1 use the elements of dance to develop and perform a series of connected dance phrases inspired by a source (e.g., demonstrate “stages in the life” of figures from various Rodin sculptures; depict changes in an object from nature or the surrounding environment)
  • A2.1 use a variety of choreographic forms, structures, and techniques to create and perform a series of movement phrases (e.g., use a theme and variation structure in a duet; create a group composition using movement motifs that communicate a response to a natural or built environment beyond the studio)
  • A4.1 revise, refine, and polish movement execution and choreography (e.g., use teacher and peer feedback to clarify their movement choices and intention; rework or change phrases/sections that need revision; polish the technical execution of movement, timing, and spacing)
  • B2.2 explain how dance contributes to their personal growth and self-understanding (e.g., develop a series of “Dance gives me…” statements that reflect how they benefit from dance activities within and outside of school)

ATC4M Overall Expectations

  • A1. The Creative Process: use the creative process, the elements of dance, and a variety of sources to develop movement vocabulary
  • A2. Choreography and Composition: combine the elements of dance in a variety of ways in composing individual and ensemble dance creations
  • A4. Performance: apply dance presentation skills in a variety of contexts and performances.
  • B2. Dance and Society: demonstrate an understanding of how societies present and past use or have used dance, and of how creating and viewing dance can benefit individuals, groups, and communities;
  • C3. Responsible Practices: demonstrate an understanding of safe, ethical, and responsible personal and interpersonal practices in dance activities.
ATC4M Specific Expectations
  • A1.1 use the elements of dance to create and perform abstract dance phrases inspired by a theme of personal significance (e.g., a theme suggested by an environmental or social issue or by a composition of a favourite dance group)
  • A1.3 use the elements of dance to generate and perform complex dance vocabulary through solo or ensemble improvisation and experimentation (e.g., in pairs, use action/reaction during contact improvisation to explore movement possibilities)
  • A2.1 use a variety of choreographic forms, structures, and techniques to create and perform complex dance works (e.g., in pairs, use ABACA [rondo] form as a basis for an original composition)
  • A4.1 revise, refine, and polish movement execution and choreography, with particular attention to how each detail contributes to the whole and to the intended effect (e.g., use their own intuitions and analyses and feedback from peers and the teacher to rework, clarify, and perfect individual movements, phrases, transitions, and sequences)
  • B2.2 identify specific ways in which dance education can enhance community life (e.g., develop a brochure about how dance education could benefit their local community)
  • C3.1 model responsible, constructive behaviour in interactions with others during the creation and production processes (e.g., work cooperatively to solve problems and resolve conflicts peacefully; mentor a younger dance student to help develop his or her understanding of appropriate behaviour in rehearsal and performance)

Learning Goals

  • By the end of the lesson, students will:
  • Gain an understanding of the role of water in Islamic architecture and culture
  • Gain an understanding of  site-specific choreographies and how they might cultivate a sense of community in their school

Instructional Components and Context

Readiness
  • Students will have already worked with the elements of dance and compositional forms
  • Students will have already created choreographies based on other themes/inspirations
  • Students will have already worked in large and small discussion groups
  • Students will have already completed Lesson 1 on Islamic Architecture (this is not necessary for this lesson but would be helpful in the Extensions)
Terminology
Materials

Lesson Plan

Minds On

Small Group > Room as a Score

  • Choose FIVE objects in the dance studio. These objects can be fixed (benches, ballet barres, shelves, doors, clock, lights on the ceiling, a grate on the wall, etc.) or non-fixed (staplers, shoes, pencil cases, broom, books, any object in the room) and demonstrate using these objects as inspiration for movement, from either the shape or the function of the object. For example, make an opening and closing motion with your arms to show the function of the stapler or staccato movements to illustrate the ticking seconds on a clock.

Have students form small groups of 2-3 and look for objects or fixtures in the dance studio from which to inspire movement. Assign them to create short choreographic pieces and share them with the class.

Ask the groups to take their mini-choreographies and find a location outside but near the dance studio. Ask students to add 3-4 more objects or fixtures from their new spot to their existing dances from the studio. Ask students to interact with the space in a way that their dance could ONLY be performed as it is in this new space (e.g., opening and closing doors, opening and closing empty lockers, ascending and descending stairs, using windows as ways to frame choreographic shapes and movements, using their hands/bodies to bang on objects as a way to make music, etc.). Have students share their rough, mini-choreographies.

Key Questions for Discussion:

Why did you choose these specific objects? What was your selection criteria?
Do you see the dance studio space in a new way? Did you see your new site outside of the dance studio in a new way? How or why not?
What were the successes and challenges of interacting with the space as a way to create choreography?

Differentiation

Provide a list of objects instead of students choosing on their own. Alternatively, the Room As A Score choreography could be done as a class instead of in small groups.

Whole Class > Understanding Water in Society

Brainstorm with the class all the places in the school community where water can be found (this can be inside or, weather permitting, just outside the school). Ask students to make hand-drawn or computer-generated maps of the school and indicate with a blue drop all the places water can be found in and around the school. Alternatively, provide a simple blueprint of the school, if needed.

Bring students back to the class and look at the websites listed in the Materials section and discuss the importance of water in Islamic architecture. Discuss the modernity of Islam and notions of what it means to be an advanced society through the structure and architecture of Islamic fountains and other water systems.

Discuss the importance of water for all life. Compare and contrast water in Islamic architecture with water in western architecture - brainstorm all the places in the city, province, and country where water is located (e.g. Fountains in front of important buildings, drinking fountains in various buildings - discuss the accessibility of those fountains, sewer drains, fire hydrants, garden hoses, etc.)  

Put students In pairs or  small groups, and ask them to brainstorm the qualities of water as inspiration to help create new movement. Write or draw your findings on chart paper and post in the classroom as an anchor and visual reminder.

Action!

Whole Class > Examples of Site-Specific Dance

Share the following video clips to show what site-specific choreography means.

Discuss how the dancers are interacting with their spaces in ways their choreography could only be performed in this specific site.

Whole Class > Exploring for Sites

As a whole class, walk around the school and find places where water can be found (INSIDE: water fountains, vending machines, sinks in classrooms. OUTSIDE: garden hose, sewer grates). Provide students with BLM #10 - Dancing Fountains Site-Specific Choreography Location Analysis to help them critically think about and analyze various spaces before choosing a site.

Small Groups > Site-Specific Choreography

Put students in groups of 4-6 and assign them to create new choreographies at a site in or just outside their school where there is a connection to water. Ask students to interact with their spaces keeping in mind the focus of the water source. Just as in the Minds On activity, Room As A Score, students should be encouraged to find inspiration for movement that reflects the shape or the function of objects/architecture in their site. Also, as shown in the various YouTube clips at the beginning of ACTION, remind students to create movements that use the space in such a way that their choreography may only be danced in this specific site (e.g., Using stairs, opening and closing doors, opening and closing lockers, etc.).

The dance creation process should take 3-4 class periods and 1-2 class periods for performance and feedback.  Use BLM #11 - Dancing Fountains Site-Specific Choreography Peer Feedback Form for students to provide feedback to one another.

Extensions

Dance Photography:

  • Ask students to use photography to document artistically and creatively the site-specific choreographies
  • Encourage students to find ways of framing and cropping the photos, and creative use of light and shadow, from their site-specific choreographies to make abstract photos that make mirror architectural shapes found in Islamic art and culture (referencing the Aga Khan Museum website under the architecture section)
  • Use editing apps on smartphones to change the colours to the ones found in Islamic art (blues, turquoise, terra cotta, etc.)
  • Alternatively, give students total freedom in their photographic expression and do not focus on Islamic art and architecture
  • Extend the activity to include what water represents to Indigenous communities on Turtle Island.  Consider connecting these ideas to the fight for safe and clean water through current events such as the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, North and South Dakota

Connections

This lesson connects back to Lesson #1 due to the use of architecture. Students use the architecture of their school community, as opposed to Islamic architecture, to inspire movement.

Students are also invited to consider the role of water in communities today, thinking about their own school community, as well as globally.

Differentiation

The photography extension may be used a way to differentiate instruction for a student who may be injured or for whatever reason are not able to dance. A student with a special need may become a documentarian for their group by taking choreographic notes, being a rehearsal director, costume designer, making promotional materials as though the group is a dance company.

Consolidation

Whole Class/Individual > Reflection

Discuss with students their experience with site-specific dance.

Key Questions for Discussion

What did you find easy about this task? What did you find most difficult?
Did this assignment help you view your school community in a new way?
What did you discover about the architecture of your school? What improvements do you think need to be made to help modernize the school?
How did you feel creating and performing dances outside of the studio? Were you embarrassed or shy? Did this change as time went on?
How do you think site-specific choreographies can create a sense of community in your school?

In groups, or individually in writing, discuss how this choreographic process has given students a new understanding of the modernity of Islam and how students have confronted their own biases about Islam due to Islamophobic media.

*Teacher note: Connect the ideas of modernity highlighted just prior to the ACTION piece when viewing the various websites about Islam as a way to challenge contemporary Islamophobic narratives of Muslims not being modern*

Assessment for learning

Teacher will provide ongoing descriptive feedback orally or in writing during the Room As A Score Minds On activity.

Assessment as learning

Ongoing verbal and/or written descriptive feedback will be provided by the teacher at all stages of the process. At the midway point, the teacher may ask groups to do a showing, where students show their work in progress for teacher and peer constructive criticism, both orally and written. A peer feedback form (BLM #11 - Dancing Fountains Site-Specific Choreography Peer Feedback Form) will be used.

Assessment of learning

Students will perform their site-specific choreographies and be assessed using this rubric: BLM #12 - Dancing Fountains Site-Specific Performance Final Rubric

Works Cited

Robab Faghfoori, Hasan Bolkhari Ghehi , Ghazal Soltani. “Theosophical Principles of Light and Colour in the Architecture and Decorations of Soltaniyeh Dome”  International Journal of Arts, 4(1), 2014, pp 8-16.

Ontario. The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 11-12: The Arts, 2010. Web. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/secondary/arts1112curr2010.pdf. Accessed 17 Dec 2016.

“Art of the Islamic World” Khan Academy, 2016. Web. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-islam. Accessed 17 Dec 2016.