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Submitted by Susan Griffin, Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools

Lesson Title
Chance Dance Compositions

Grade Level or Course
Fourth Grade Dance

Time Allotment
2 (45 minute) lessons for composition process
1 (45 minute) lesson for performances and evaluation

Targeted Goals and Objectives from the 2000 North Carolina Arts Education Standard Course of Study and Grade Level Competencies, K-12:

1.01 - Exhibit kinesthetic awareness: control, concentration, focus, and clarity of movement.

1.02 - Combine more than one element of dance to create dance sequences.

2.01 - Use improvisation to discover and invent dance.

2.03 - Demonstrate the ability to work independently and cooperatively.

2.04 - Improvise, create, and perform dances based on own ideas and concepts from other sources.

3.03 - Demonstrate ways to create dance movements from pedestrian movements.

4.03 - Devise and employ various ways to evaluate dance.

5.01 - Investigate the impact of historical events and significant contributors on the development of dance.

7.01 - Identify concepts which occur between dance and other content areas including English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Music, Theatre Arts, and Visual Arts.

7.02 - Create a dance sequence that demonstrates understanding of a concept or idea from another content area.

Targeted Goals and Objectives from the North Carolina Standard Course of Study and Grade
Level Competencies, K-12
for other content areas.

Mathematics -Investigate and discuss probabilities by experimenting with devices that generate random outcomes such as coins, number cubes, spinners.
Mathematics -Use a fraction to describe the probability of an event and report the outcome of an experiment.


Lesson Objective(s):

Students will create dances through a randomly generated process (such as throwing a dice) and perform their dances for the class. Students will use a rubric or checklist to evaluate their individual and group work on the dance. A separate rubric or checklist will be used to evaluate the composition and performance of the dance. Students will determine the probability of each element in the dance to occur and express this as a fraction. A description of the dance and the completed rubrics will be placed in each student's portfolio as a sample of his/her work.

Materials/Equipment Needed:

Paper, pencils, dice (or other devices that generate random outcomes), rubric or checklist for self and group evaluation, composition and performance rubric.


Lesson Procedure:

Lesson 1 (45 minutes)

  1. Inform students that they will create dances through chance. A brief overview of Merce Cunningham and his work with Chance Dance can be given at this point, or you might want to introduce this in a previous lesson. Students will select four to six pedestrian movements as the elements of the dance. These should be varied and include locomotor movements such as walking, skipping, hopping, as well as gestures or movements based on everyday activities. The order in which these elements are combined will be determined by chance. Share with the students the criteria on which the dances and their work on the dances will be evaluated. The rubrics that will be used can be given to the students.

  2. Model the process for creating the dance. Have the students improvise to generate movement elements and select four to six or these. Record these on the board or a piece of paper. Assign each element a number on the dice. If you have fewer than six elements, more than one number can be assigned to an element. Create a sequence of these elements by throwing the dice. Each time the dice is rolled record the dance element that corresponds to the number on the dice. Roll the dice four times to generate a sequence of movements. Have the students perform the dance sequence. Roll the dice again six times and create another dance sequence. Have the students perform this sequence. Roll the dice again eight times to create a third dance sequence. Have the students perform this sequence.

  3. Compare the sequences and discuss how the process of randomly selecting the elements differs from making choices for the order of the elements. Discuss what effect the increased number of rolls of the dice had on the resulting sequence. Determine the chance of rolling each element. Is it the same for each element? Evaluate whether the dances fulfill the criteria established for the dance. Refer to the rubric or checklist.

  4. Inform the students that they will work in small groups next time to create their own chance dances.

Lesson 2 (45 minutes)

  1. Divide the students into small groups of 3-5. Review the process for creating a chance dance. Remind the students of how they will be evaluated.

  2. Allow the students to improvise first to create the elements for the dance. Each member of the group should contribute a movement element. The groups then should determine how to generate the order for their dance. (All of the groups can use dice, or you can supply other devices or methods such as spinners.) The groups will need to assign a chance to each element and determine how long the sequence will be. Each group then creates the sequence for the dance and then memorizes and practices the dance.

  3. Students should record the dance and determine the probability for each element of the dance. Have the groups complete the group evaluation rubric.

Lesson 3 (45 minutes)

  1. Have each group perform their dance for the class.

  2. Discuss the dances using the rubric criteria. Students can discuss how the dances might change if they could choose the sequence of elements.

  3. Have the students discuss what they have learned and file recorded dance, calculated probability of elements, and rubrics in individual portfolios.


Assessment of group and individual work: Students will assess their individual work and the work of the group using a rubric designed by the teacher or by the teacher and students. The rubric should address how well individuals contributed to the group work and how well the group worked together to produce the dance. The teacher will also assess the groups and individuals using a rubric based on the guidelines for creating and performing the dance.

Special Considerations:

This lesson should follow earlier exploration of pedestrian movements. Students should have a clear understanding of pedestrian movements and how to create movements based on everyday activities and gestures. Students should also have explored probability and how to calculate expected outcomes. This offers a good opportunity to collaborate with a classroom teacher who could focus more specifically on the math goals. The dances could be videotaped as a part of the assessment process, so that students can see their work and better evaluate their performance. This lesson may take more than three class times, depending on the abilities of students, and the size of the class.


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