Students will learn the history and evolution of Indian dance, focusing on key elements of: story-telling through gesture, movement, and facial expressions; musical structure and basic rhythmic counting systems; vastness of dance culture from classical, to folk, to Bollywood; and the social and historical events that have propelled the movement of dance from the ancient temples to the commercial entertainment stages and film sets. The show touches upon the spiritual roots of Indian performing arts, the structural marriage between dance and theatre and music in India, and the ability to engage dance movement as a universal communicator. Students will be challenged to recognize and discern the movement and aesthetic difference between all three strands of dance; will be challenged to interpret, read and understand movement through a traditional cultural dance form; and finally asked to try on the dance form through interactive segments. Each show can have a post-performance talk-back.
Connections to Visual and Performing Arts Standards
Dance Grade 6
1.1 Development of Motor Skills and Technical Expertise – Demonstrate focus, physical control, coordination, and accurate reproduction in performing locomotor and axial movement.
How: Classical dance is known for its precision, sculptural poses, extensions, balance, and disciplined physical control. The students observe the quiet focus, control, coordination and balance required to perform the locomotor and axial movement.
1.4 Comprehension and Analysis of Dance Elements – Use the principals of contrast, unity, and variety in phrasing in dance studies and dances.
How: In the duets and group pieces, students will observer the dancers performing in unity as well as in contrast to one another to create a visual phrasing that is varied and engaging. Additionally, Students will observe the variety in phrasing between different dance styles and understand how contrast and unity is played upon in these different measures – e.g., tempo, speed, movement, space, levels, force (strong movements versus soft graceful movements), and control of movements (precision in classical dance versus freedom in folk dance).
1.5 Development of Dance Vocabulary – Describe and analyze movements observed and performed, using appropriate dance vocabulary.
How: Students are introduced to the terminology of Indian dance – the names of the mudras, the concept of codified scat, the names of the various dance styles and their differentiating factors. They are asked to try parts of the vocabulary through call and response (e.g., the rhythm patterns that are clapped and chanted, and the hand gestures that are recited with the Sanskrit names).
2.0 Creative Expression
2.3 Application of Choreographic Principals and Processes in Creating Dance – Describe and incorporate dance forms in dance studies.
How: Students are introduced to a range of dance styles from within India and are made aware of the nuances between classical, folk, and Bollywood. Within each of these categories they are introduced to the idea that there is more than one “type” of dance within each genre – that there are 7 classical dance styles, folk dances for each region, and that Bollywood is an amalgamation of Western, Eastern, and world dance styles.
2.4 Application of Choreographic Principals and Processes in Creating Dance – Demonstrate the ability to coordinate movement with different musical rhythms and styles.
How: In the show we identify different musical rhythms that is interactive through a call and response with the audience. Additionally, students are exposed to the varying styles of music and dance as we move across Indian dance styles. They are called to pay attention to music and observe how the dancer’s movements alter to match the musical style and phrasing.
2.6 Communication of Meaning in Dance Through Dance Performance – Demonstrate an awareness of the body as an instrument of expression when rehearsing and performing.
How: Students observe the various ways the body can be used as an instrument of expression, exploring both abstract movement and literal story-telling/pantomime that is inherent in Indian dance. They are introduced to the concepts of altering body shape, levels, facial expressions, and hand movements to express emotions and communicate events.
2.8 Development of Partner and Group Skills – Demonstrate an ability to cooperate and collaborate with a wide range of partners and groups (e.g., imitating, leading/following, mirroring, calling/responding, echoing, sequence building).
How: We have call and respond section within the performance for the rhythm exploration section and mirroring, imitating and echoing for the hand gesture section. Students are asked to actively participate in both sections and contribute suggestions to uses of the hand gestures and mathematical combinations of rhythm phrases.
3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.1 Development of Dance – Compare and contrast features of dances already performed from different countries.
How: While our show doesn’t delve into a variety of countries, it does showcase and compare and contrast the features of the range of dances within India itself. Students are introduced and witness a total of 6 different styles of dance, and then variations within the styles as the dance evolves over the course of history.
3.2 History and Function of Dance – Explain the importance and function of dance in students’ lives
3.3 Diversity of Dance – Explain the various ways people have experienced dance in their daily lives
How (both 3.2 and 3.3): Our show identifies the various occasions dance is employed as a form of expression – from ceremonial purposes to celebrations to entertainment. Connections are drawn between Western events students may be familiar with and the Eastern experiences where dance was incorporated into daily activities. Students witness, first-hand, samples of ceremonial temple dances, celebratory folk dances, and entertainment Bollywood pieces. They also experience how classical dance was a form of entertainment in the days of Royal Courts and presently on stage.
5.0 Connections, Relationships, Applications
5.1 Connections and Application Across Disciplines – Describe how other arts disciplines are integrated into dance performances (e.g., music, lighting, set design).
How: The show touches upon the variations in music, the role venues and related lighting and set design have played on the development of dance (temple vs. royal courts vs. stage vs. film set), the integrated nature of theatre in the dance style and emphasis on story-telling, and finally the influence of other dance styles from around the world. These various disciplines have all influenced and shaped the evolution of dance and the stylistics of each style presented in the show.
Dance Grade 7
2.0 Creative Expression
2.5 Communication of Meaning in Dance Through Dance Performance – Demonstrate performance skills in the ability to interpret and communicate through dance.
How: The dance styles featured in this show are rooted in the ability to communicate emotions, story, and ideas through dance. Students witness how this is done in a literal fashion in classical dance and in a more abstract fashion in folk and Bollywood dance. They are exposed to the idea of deliberate and specific movement to play character and communicate story and express directed emotion (select facial expressions to portray the emotion a character is feeling) vs the free-flowing movement of folk dances where the energy, movement style, and emotion the performers feel elicit the emotion within the viewer.
2.7 Development of Partner and Group Skills – Demonstrate increased originality in using partner or group relationships to define spatial floor patterns, shape designs, and entrances and exits.
How: The show includes solos, duets, and group numbers, with select dances starting and ending on stage and other pieces including entrances and exits. Students develop awareness of how a solo dancer uses the entire stage and directs his/her expression to the audience using the audience as their partner. They also witness how a solo dancer can create spatial relationships by creating and maintaining imaginary environments and spatial boundaries. For example in the narrated story, the dancer creates a forest with a riverbank, river, and a path from the river to her hut etc. – she then moves within this imaginary space, having a specific spatial relationship with all the aspects of her stage. The duets showcase how dancers make shapes in relation to one another and how they interact and partner each other to engage in a collaborative artistic exchange. Lastly, the group pieces show the value of unity and contrast in shape and movement as tools for phrasing and variety, as well as the seamless transition and use of various formations and geometrical spatial floor patterns.
3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.2 History and Function of Dance – Explain the function of dance in daily life during specific time periods and in countries being studied in history-social studies.
How: The show covers dance over the centuries in India, and addresses how dance has evolved with the times to address the needs of the society and people. It also mentions how socio-economic changes influenced the progression of dance. For example the stories of gods, goddesses and mythology which was prevalent in classical dance changed to those of the valor and accolades of the kings as the dance moved from the temples to the royal courts. The role of dance in daily life also changed from one of ceremonial religious practice to that of artistic aesthetic and prowess, and finally entertainment value.
4.0 Aesthetic Value
4.1 Description, Analysis, and Criticism of Dance – Demonstrate understanding of the elements of dance and the craft of choreography when critiquing two kinds of dance (e.g. solo, duet).
How: Students witness solo, duet (female/female, male/male and male/female) and group dances and the respective interaction the performers have with each other (in choreography and expression) and the audience.
4.2 Description, Analysis, and Criticism of Dance – Identify assessment criteria used for outstanding performances in different styles of dance (e.g. theatre, social, ceremonial).
How: The show display dances that are ceremonial in nature, social in various levels of economic groups (royalty vs. village community), social for festivals, styles suited for theatre stages, and finally styles developed for pure commercial entertainment value. The dialogue in the show between Devi and Aliya identifies assessment criteria used to identify and understand the different styles of dance.
4.4 Meaning and Impact of Dance – Explain how different venues influence the experience and impact of dancing (e.g., a studio setting, traditional stage, theatre in the round).
How: The show delineates the evolution of dance and the influences the various performance venues have had on the development of dance in India. Students observe dances created for and performed in the following settings: Temples, Royal Courts, Stages, Outdoor Village Festivals, and Film sets. The characters dialogue about how these various settings have influenced the progression and development of dance altering the experience and role of dance in society.
Dance Grade 8
1.0 Artistic Perception
1.2 Development of Motor Skills, Technical Expertise, and Dance Movements – Demonstrate capacity for centering/shifting body weight and tension/release in performing movement for artistic intent.
How: Performers within the show display the use of shifting body weight and tension/release for performing movement for artistic intent. Classical dance displays a control and mastery of this quality with a determined precision and clarity of movement. The other dance styles use the shift of weight and tension/release to move fluidly with speed and buoyancy.
1.4 Comprehension and Analysis of Dance Elements – Analyze gestures and movements viewed in live or recorded professional dance performances and apply that knowledge to dance activities.
How: The students learn the gestural vocabulary, movement vocabulary, and rhythm phrasing employed by the performers in the execution of the dances. Students are asked to identify the gestures and movements and apply that knowledge to their comprehension of the dances they are observing.
1.5 Development of Dance Vocabulary – Identify and analyze the variety of ways in which a dancer can move, using space, time, and force/energy vocabulary.
How: Students observe the use of space, time, and force/energy from the range of dances presented. The students learn about the vocabulary used to identify select movements, the use of space, and concepts of time such as rhythm, phrasing, tempo, accelerated movements vs. pauses, off-beat vs. on-beat, and the dancers ability to couple a slow movement with one part of their body while producing a fast beat or movement with another part of their body simultaneously.
2.0 Creative Expression
2.3 Application of Choreographic Principals and Processes to Creating Dance – Apply basic music elements to the making and performance of dances (e.g., rhythm, meter, accents).
How: In the call and response section of the show where we explore rhythm, basic music elements are demonstrated including rhythm, accents, phrasing, and mathematical counting.
2.7 Development of Partner and Group Skills – Demonstrate originality in using partner or group relationships to define spatial patterns and the use of overall performing space.
How: Students observe the difference between duet partnering when it is a female/female pair, as contrasted with a male/male pair, and finally a male/female pair. The use of space, the spatial floor patterns and the interaction dancers have with one another vary greatly. Students observe how same gender pairings tend to perform on the same plane and use geometrical lines to balance one another, while the male/female pair move in circular patterns, change planes, often enter each other’s personal space to dance as a united pair, face one another much more and direct their action towards their partner.
3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.2 History and Function of Dance – Explain the variety of roles dance plays among different socioeconomic groups in selected countries (e.g., royalty and peasants).
How: The performance showcases dances performed in the Royal courts as well as in the villages. The roles of dance are described and the historical context is explained to contextualize the dances the students observe.
4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
4.3 Meaning and Impact of Dance – Describe and analyze how differences in costumes, lighting, props, and venues can enhance or detract from the meaning of a dance.
How: Throughout the show, references to regional costuming, venue, lighting is identified and students are asked to observe these differences with each dance presented. Props are used in the folk dance to introduce how the style and interaction amongst dancers changes when an inanimate physical object is introduced and incorporated into movement vocabulary.