Final Dance Notes for 2017-18 school year

Final Dance Notes for 2017-18 school year

This year has been a blast. It would not have happened without the blessing and support of Dr Kelly, who understands and believes in the importance of adding dance to the curriculum and choosing someone with the right qualifications. Thanks to her (and under the guidance of our PYP Coordinators), I was able to initiate Dr Kelly’s vision and work on a dance curriculum that I hope will be integral to the CDNIS community and students.

It also would not have happened so easily without the willingness of the PA team to take on a new team member with openness and enthusiasm. A special thank you to Ms Kim Butler for her gentle and thoughtful leadership this year.  Starting something new in a well established school can be challenging and her inclusiveness and advocacy is well appreciated.

Our PE teachers also need gratitude for seeing the connections PE and Dance have and reaching out whenever they can in their busy programmes.

While establishing the capabilities of our students, we explored Elements of Movement and Laban (Grade One, Prep), dances from other cultures (grades 2 and 3) dances from other genres (grade 4 especially liked hip hop and grade 6 explored multiple genres) and physical theatre (grade 5). Improvisation was a huge favourite across the school. Students danced in front of their peers, in front of their teachers, for spotlights, for Lunar New Year and for the Exhibition Opening Ceremony.

Two things:

  1. Next year, I expect to add a little more detail to the mix, now that I know what my 800 odd charges can do. Engaging the dance elements in a slightly different way, using different kinds of improvisation (although some clear favourites will return), and revisiting the school’s POI with more knowledge of the children’s ability is now underway. What will remain the same: the benefit of group work, the freedom to create and the expectation that all children will be performing dance in some way, be it in the dance room for their peers, in a spotlight or assembly, or in school wide events.
  2. A dance group for the older students is being advertised. I am well aware of some talented children for whom I would like to provide some opportunities to learn some extra ideas in choreography. This will be run after school on Thursdays. If enough sign up, I am happy to expand that to two groups. The connection between dance and success in other academics is well supported by good quality research and offering your child these opportunities is my little part in helping that along.

With all of that in mind, have a lovely summer and I look forward to seeing all these lovely students in August!



Dance Notes June 1st 2018

Dance Notes June 1st 2018

We’re almost down to the final week of the school year!

This week has been a “finish up” week for the grade threes’ integrated programme, due to assemblies, class trips and various events. They have completed their phone number dances and performed them. Students were invited to take responsibility for the filming, with some interesting results. The performances will be loaded up onto the photo and film tab, so please look at them. Look for: smooth movements (a “connect the dots’ action rather than a tapping action), a turn, and use of more than one body part. Some children showed innovation in contrast, travelling movements and changes of direction. The final week students will be preparing with Miss Benusa for some singing in the assemblies.

The grade twos are finalising their pieces, utilising song, dance, rhythm and beat. Each “band” has a different nursery rhyme and are working now on formations and transitions. They will be performing in the classroom in coming days.

The grade fives are completing their physical theatre pieces which they will be sharing in class in the next few lessons. Due to class parties and assemblies, a larger, shared performance is not an option. The students have worked well and have 15-20 different movements (in several cases, more) which show all five dance elements – use of the body, space, time, energy and relationships. The soundscapes from a previous music unit with Ms Butler have added an extra dimension, with students performing with greater attention to the tempo and use of energy.

Students in grade seven had some dance experience this week as part of their end of year mindfulness work. They tried improvisation, dance construction and a little physical theatre. It was interesting to compare their approach to dance with the LS students, who have now had a year of dance. It was also lovely to work with Ms Sauer – turns out we have some similar ideas and approaches which bodes well for students going into theatre classes in the coming years.

Enjoy your final weekend before summer holidays arrive!



Information for NEXT YEAR from Performing Arts!

Next year, the Lower School Performing Arts Department is excited to offer many after school experiences for the 2018-2019 school year. As you organise your child’s schedule for next year, keep the following opportunities in mind:

Treble Timbertones, led by Ashley Benusa will meet Tuesdays from 2:45-3:55. It is open to any student who loves to sing in Grade 3 to Grade 6.

LS Intermediate Band led by Kimberly Butler will meet Wednesdays from 2:45-3:55. Students who are already studying a wind instrument or percussion in Grade 3-6 are welcome to audition to be a part of this group.

LS Strings Ensemble led by Ashley Benusa will meet Wednesdays from 2:45-3:55. Students who are already studying violin, viola, or cello outside of school in Grades 3-6 are welcome to audition to be a part of this group.

LS Beginning Band led by Kimberly Butler will meet Thursdays from 2:45-3:55. Students in Grades 4-6 will have the opportunity to start an instrument from the beginning and work within an ensemble setting.

LS Dance Troupe, led by Carole Saunders is a new LS offering. It will meet on Thursdays after school for Grades 4-6.

More information about joining each of these ensembles will come out in August.

Dance Notes 25th May 2018

Dance Notes 25th May 2018

As we get closer to the end of the year, students continue to express themselves through instrument, song and dance.

Grade 5 students are coming to the end of their Physical Theatre unit. With only a few more lessons, they are working on perfecting their sequences of movement in preparation for presenting to their fifth grade peers. They have taken their garage band compositions from earlier this term and are fitting their sequences to them by altering tempo and energy levels.

Grade 2 students have returned to their composition bands and are using their understandings of rhythm through beat and movement to create a routine that can include props, instruments, song and dance. This they will be presenting to their peers in coming lessons.

Grade 3 students are working with their partners to create a movement based on a telephone number (or sequence of 8 digits). Criteria includes adding contrast, use of space, a turn and ensuring it moves smoothly. The plan is to get them to show their peers soon as well.

Student showcases have been running this week and FFF was this Friday. A range of talents were paraded across the forum across these days. It has been wonderful to watch our little performers.





Dance Notes May 18th 2018

Dance Notes May 18th 2018

A somewhat quieter week this week, but we are still pushing our learning along!

Students in grade two started connecting their movement sequences to rhythm, using musical notation (“ta, ti-ti, za”) and developing rhythmic patterns. All classes in grade two have commenced using previous learning in Music – a nursery rhyme to which they had placed a rhythm is now being used to develop a sequence of movement.

Students in grade three are learning both recorder and movement. The students have been split so that half have recorder for one lesson, dance for the second, so that by the end of the week, recorder and dance have both been looked at for all students. In dance, we took their phone numbers. First they “dialled” their numbers following a large phone pad written up on the mirror, then they turned that into a regular movement sequence using different parts of their bodies. Finally, they moved away from the visual number aid and continued working with their movement sequence, adding different emotional intent to it by changing tempo and force. Music helped this along – children listened to an Adagio by Barber, a polka by Strauss, part of the opera Peer Gynt by Grieg and a piano piece by Chopin.

Students in grade five are working on developing trust and being trustworthy as they move their improvisation into choreography. Different activities using balance and movement with eyes closed help develop this trust. The moves are creative and purposeful and it is interesting to see how simple experimentation and exploration is leading to all kinds of movement variations.

A big congratulations to Ms Salvador and her early years spotlights this and in recent weeks.

FFF on May 25 is coming up next week, as are student showcases and open ASA performances by Ms Butler and Ms Benusa for parents of students in strings and band. The frenetic fun never stops in PA!

I continue to add film and photos to the different folders – make sure you check them out! As always, I ask that you do not share outside of the CDNIS community to protect our students.

I hope all have a wonderful weekend! For those who celebrate, Ramadan Kareem. May it be a blessed time for you.


Dance Notes May 11th

Dance Notes May 11th

April went by quickly!

It was a busy month.

Grade Four Spotlights were the focus of the first half of the month. Students in all five classes determined whether they were presenting a play they had completed in PA drama or to choreograph a dance based on their learning in PE Dance. They worked hard to be as prepared as possible and the performances went really well. They can all be pleased with their results.

Grade Six students were working on their Exhibition Opening Ceremony and while a focus during the first half of the month, it became THE focus in the second half as they moved onto the stage, worked on transitions and developed movements. The students who wanted to feature in dance came in at recesses and lunchtimes to choreograph and rehearse their work. They strived hard to give of their best and the OC performances were indeed highly successful.

Grade One has been working on their coming Spotlights and their work with movement during PE Dance (sadly truncated by the sudden influenza closure) was continued and developed so that they could show their understandings of some of the basic Dance Elements. They were able to perform some of this for their Spotlight in early May.

The schedule changed for the last time this year and Dance and PA are combining their talents to work with grades 2, 3 and 5. Grade 2 students are working on moving to multi-syllabic sounds. This ties in beautifully with musical notation and students will be working together with previously developed notation tunes – they will put movement to them, creating a sort of movement poem. Grade 3 is working on developing sequences of movement using space through levels and turns, travelling and on-the-spot (axial) moves. Choreographic tools for the body include contrast and unison, and saggital and frontal planes of movement (they do not know these words – yet). They are currently looking at what happens when they use the same moves but change the tempo; they are also considering the best tempos to convey an emotion, such as sadness or happiness. Grade 5 students are working with Physical Theatre – somewhat based on the group Frantic Assembly, they are working with different kinds of improvisation and developing the movements explored in these games to choreograph.

Updated to add: Make Create Collaborate is the big news of May 10 and 11, with students from EY to Grade 6 coming and exploring art, craft, music and song! Look for #makecreatecollaborate, or follow @LSPerfArtsCDNIS on Twitter, hashtag #makecreatecollaborate for pictures and film!

Have a great weekend!

Note – more photos and film have been added to the links – check them out!


Dance Notes March 29th

Dance Notes March 29th

It has been an amazingly busy couple of weeks, hampered somewhat by a recalcitrant computer that required a visit to the computer doctor to get it going again (sound stopped working – not good for dance teaching!!!)

First of all SEUSS!

The show was an immense success and the students outdid themselves. Seussical is unusual in that it combines song and dance almost all the way through the whole show, which can be hard on young children and our rays of sunshine were awesome. In two years there will be another lower school musical!

Secondly, Spotlights: grades one and four have been preparing for upcoming spotlights in April and May. Each class is looking at ways of combining song, dance and drama, with lots of student input. Dance from when dance took PE time has been revisited and the students have chosen movements and sequences from then to create pieces for performance when they come back from the break.

Finally, PYPX is taking shape, with classes similarly working on song, dance, drama, speech, including lighting concepts to bring their message home. Volunteers from all the classes are also working on parts of a culminating piece which will feature all grade six students by the time it is fully assembled.

For those who celebrate – have a lovely Easter and a wonderful break! See you in April!

Ms Saunders

Dance Notes 17th March 2018

Things are hotting up for Seussical! Tickets went on sale online on Wednesday; ensure that you have your tickets booked because they will sell out FAST!

Now, here is the week’s roundup:

Grade one has been experimenting with how animals move and how they can turn mime into more abstract movement. The book “The Chinese Zodiac” was introduced to them and students have been thinking how those animals, in particular, might move.

Grade 4 is well into Spotlight practices. Three days this week they have been away on camp; there are not many lessons left before Spotlight happens!

Grade 6 classes are fleshing out their plans for the Opening Ceremony. Each class has chosen something distinctly different to the rest – it promises to be an incredible event! Dancers are also meeting with me for the closing number of the Opening Ceremony. CDNIS is loaded with talent and this is truly abundant in this grade level.

Seussical – as I type, Ms Benusa is programming lights for the show. Main characters have been mic-ed, hair and makeup is experimenting with ideas, costuming is being tested, students are off-book and final blocking is underway. Huge kudos to Ms Benusa for her charismatic, clear and concise approach to helping our students give of their absolute best.

And that is all folks. Have a lovely weekend – I will see Seussical students at their rehearsal on Saturday!

Dance Notes 9th March 2018

Dance Notes 9th March 2018

Shows, performances, concerts oh my!

So this week was a busy week in PA Dance.

  1. Grade 1 integrated PA classes allowed Miss Benusa and myself to combine some of our ideas to help challenge children further in their understanding and use of movement and space. Miss Benusa taught a short fun European folk dance called “Sashay the Donut”. Preparations will soon be underway to help prepare students for their up and coming Spotlight, but everything being done at present is laying the foundation for this.
  2. Grade 4 is also working on Spotlights during integrated PA classes. They are currently reconstructing past plays and dances. Specific to dance, they are looking at ways of combining their previous self choreographed routines into longer pieces. Children are also taking on the role of “techies” creating interview videos for their show.
  3. Grade 6 has spent this week narrowing down their ideas for the Opening Ceremony of their Exhibition. Each class is looking at contributing through Performing Arts something about their Exhibition Central Idea. The creativity of Grade 6 is a standout and working with them is a great deal of fun.
  4. Seussical students have been diligently rehearsing their moves and the show is taking shape, which has added to their excitement. This is the show of the year!
  5. To finish off, a shout out to the students who are starting to choreograph for the next FFF – it’s wonderful to see the enthusiasm.

One more thing! I continue to upload video clips and photos, so please have a look!

I hope yesterday was a great International Women’s Day for all. Have a lovely weekend!

Dance Notes 2nd of March 2018

Dance Notes 2nd of March 2018

Happy New Year and Gong Xi Fa Cai!

What a busy week! A new rotation has started and Dance is now part of PA lessons. Here is what we have squished into four days:

  1. Chinese New Year performances – our grade six students and Prep E students were finally able to show off what they had practiced prior to the holidays. Prep E were very pleased with themselves for remembering everything and the grade six dancers can be proud of their results – they were responsible for choreography, practice, costuming, hair and music. Well done girls!
  2. Grade 6 Performing Arts – we have leaped into the Exhibition Opening Ceremony preparations! After an initial tuning in exercise where the students considered why and how Performing Arts is used in the Exhibition, each class discussed what they would like to see happen and brainstormed ideas for what their class can do that can best represent the Central Idea.
  3. Grade 4 Performing Arts – students are preparing for Spotlight and will showcase their learning. They are taking the best from Dance and/or Drama, and also looking at Music. Each class will be working on their segment of the Spotlight.
  4. Grade 1 Performing Arts – students shared some of their learning in Dance with Ms Benusa to tune in to the integrated arts unit, then the week was spent exploring body movement and learning a basic dance. Students are front loading for their coming spotlight.
  5. For those dancers in Seussical – with only four weeks to go until the show opens, dancers are working to perfect dance moves.

Continue to check out the photo and film folder – as we go, I will keep uploading!

Have a lovely weekend as we come to the end of the Chinese New Year festivities.