Critical Learning

Guiding Questions

Dance can play an important role in society as it can communicate perspectives on social issues to audiences.

Environmental Issues can be explored through movement and Dance.

What characteristics do dance and nature have in common?
How can the environment be embodied and portrayed through the use of movement and dance?
How can artists use nature for choreographic inspiration?   

Curriculum Expectations

Learning Goals

Creating, Presenting and Performing

A1. The Creative Process:use the creative process, the elements of dance (body, space, time, energy, and relationship), and a variety of sources to develop movement vocabulary;

A1.1 use the elements of dance to create and perform a variety of movement phrases inspired by sources

A2. Choreography and Composition:combine the elements of dance in a variety of ways in composing individual and ensemble dance creations;

A2.1 use a variety of choreographic forms, structures, and techniques to connect a series of movement phrases

A2.2 construct a dance composition inspired by a source

A4. Performance: apply dance presentation skills in a variety of contexts andperformances

A4.1 revise and refine movement to enhance dance performance and interpretation

Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing

B1. Critical Analysis Process: use the critical analysis process to reflect on and evaluate their own and others’ dance works and activities;

B1.2 analyse dance works in terms of both their content and their fluency, artistry, or expressiveness 


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;

C2.2 identify and describe ways in which dance addresses social questions of local and/or global interest 

C3. Responsible Practices: demonstrate an understanding of safe, ethical, and responsible personal and interpersonal practices in dance activities.

C3.2 demonstrate problem-solving skills during rehearsal and performance

Learning Goals
(Unpacked Expectations) 
At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
  • create an individual choreography from a stimulus
  • connect the elements of the environment to the elements of dance
  • understand how dance can be used as a catalyst for a variety of social issues
  • create, rehearse and perform solo dance phrases
  • reflect and analyze their own and others' dance works 

Instructional Components


Students should have some experience with choreography and should know the elements of dance (body, energy, space, time and relationship) as they will be working with them throughout the lesson. Students should be reminded of classroom conventions and group etiquette when working in groups. 


Dance phrase
Movement phrase


Objects from nature (feathers, rocks, sand, flowers, grass, sticks…)
Small cloth bags
Variety of music
CD Player/Bluetooth speakers


 BLM #1 Feeling Nature's Connection - Descriptive Words


Approximately 20 minutes

Minds On

Pause and Ponder

Individual > Objects in Nature


Introduce students to a tray of "nature objects" in individual cloth bags (students should not see the object). Objects may include feathers, rocks, sand, flowers, grass, sticks, seeds, pine cones, moss, etc. Distribute an object to each student. (It's okay if more than one student has the same object). Invite students to spread out in the space and have each student close their eyes and reach into their "object" bag. Ask them to feel the object and then place the object back into the bag.


At this point the students have not seen what their nature object is.

Ask the students to think about:
What does this object remind you of? 
Where do you think it came from?

Instruct students to write down three words that describe how the object feels and three descriptive words about its appearance. (Students still have not seen the object). Instruct students to look at the object and have students write in role, as the object, one statement about the object that describes where it comes from and what its characteristics are. Example (Stone): I am smooth, and round. I can be many shapes and sizes. You can find me either in water or on land.

Whole Class > Share Words and Statement

Ask students to share their descriptive words and statement with the class. Invite students to guess what the object may be. 

Assessment for Learning (AfL)

Observations from choreography will be a diagnostic.

Have a class discussion to determine the understanding and comprehension of the students.

Walk around the space and "check in" on all groups.

Make group observations.

Assessment as Learning (AaL)

Student reflection.

Differentiation (DI)

You may need to do an example for the class or have student volunteers demonstrate to gain a better idea of what is expected.

Some students may need to write down the movement ideas first, in order to be successful.

You can write a list of movement criteria and compositional tools (direction change, tempo, levels, ground work, retrograde).   

Quick Tip

Students may be given the task of collecting elements from nature to use for the assignment.

Take time to create an accepting and safe environment for all students. Build a collective list of class norms and behaviors. 

You may want to consider dimming the lights to create a less anxious feeling for students. 

Link and Layer

Students will need to use their previous knowledge of the elements of dance to assist them in completing this lesson. Review the elements of dance (body, energy, space, time, relationship)

Clarify the terminology used in the lesson with the students.



Approximately 30 minutes


Individual > Creating a Movement Phrases


Instruct students to create a movement to go with each of their 6 descriptive words. They should have 6 movements in total.


Instruct students to explore their 6 movements, connecting them together as a solo dance phrase. Remind students that transitions should be used to help create fluidity and strong connections between the movements. Encourage them to embody the object's characteristics in the phrase.


Ask students to revise their movement phrase, using a variety of compositional tools. Lead students in a movement exploration by asking them to consider the following: 

Change the direction of the movement
Change the tempo
Use different levels
Try a section of movement on the ground
Try the choreography in reverse (called retrograde)

Invite students to continue to refine and revise their choreography, exploring some of the compositional tools listed above. 

Whole Class > Presenting/Performing

Ask the whole class to present their movement phrases, in silence, at the same time.  Ensure students hold their ending shape until all dancers have finished. Split the class in half, so that students can view each others' movement phrases. Give each group an opportunity to share their impressions of one another's solos. Invite students to present again in groups of 4-5. Have each student randomly choose a spot in the space in relation to the other performers.

Whole Class > Discussion

Ask students, who are watching, to look for connections between the solos.

Key Questions for Discussion:

How did the solos change as they became part of a small group choreography?
What was effective about the solos in relation to one another?
Which ones worked well together?
How did the small group compositions affect the movements and how did they create a different atmosphere or send a different message? 

Approximately 20 minutes


Whole Class > Discussion

Go around the room and ask each student to contribute something to the discussion, starting with the sentence stem "I noticed..."

After observations have been made ask the following discussion questions:

What objects might the performers have had?
What are some descriptive words that came to mind during the movement phrases?
What characteristics do dance and nature have in common? 
How can dance be incorporated into the environment?  
How can artists get choreographic inspiration from objects found in nature? 
How did the class successfully use nature as inspiration for choreography?
What next steps or activities could be done with this assignment?

Brainstorm ideas.