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"Rhythms of Writing"--Exploring the Creative Process through Writing and Dance

Mastery of writing skills is a requirement in all subjects across the curriculum. Teachers often speak of the difficulty of getting students to write. Movement is a great starting point, releasing creative energy; warming up the body, mind and emotions; encouraging students to use their five senses; and helping them realize they are the author of their own thoughts and actions. Students have fun, and writing flows easily from the activity.

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Pairing dance and writing is a powerful way of teaching essential skills in each area. Dance and writing are both languages,
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each with its own symbol system, vocabulary, and structure. Whether producing a paragraph or a piece of choreography, students go through the steps of the creative process:

  • build background knowledge and vocabulary through prior knowledge, brainstorming, and research

  • create an organizer considering purpose, style and audience

  • produce a rough draft

  • revise based on one's own response and that of others

  • proofread and edit (polish)

  • publish (perform)

In this residency, dance and writing are used as mutual stimuli to produce vivid action words and movement, detail and shades of meaning, emotional tone, form and style, personal interpretation, and inspiration. Movement exercises done during the residency are followed by writing exercises chosen by the classroom teacher based on his/her curriculum and the standards.
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Students create and perform original choreography and produce finished writing samples. In both dance and writing, students learn to explore their own ideas, to brainstorm as part of a group, to give and take constructive criticism using correct vocabulary, and to persevere through the many steps of the process towards a finished product. As they share and critique their work, teachers and students realize that each language is unique; one is not literally a translation of the other.
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"Rhythms of Writing"- Exploring Winter through Writing and Dance

Description
Dance and movement can serve as a springboard for creating more original and vivid writing. Participating in movement provides sensory stimuli, personal engagement, and an invigorating emotional climate which leads to more easily expressing oneself in words. The creative processes of choreographing a dance and writing involve parallel steps, giving students valuable practice in completing original works.

Curriculum Connections
This residency integrates dance and language arts. Students will brainstorm ideas on the theme of snow and create graphic organizers and story maps of plot, character, and setting. They will read and write poems with attention to metaphors. In response to the artist's visits, teachers will guide their students in writing exercises such as journal entries, critiques, personal narrative, letter writing, and detailed paragraphs.
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Daily lesson sample:
Day 1 - Vivid Action Words - Students will explore axial and locomotor movements and will brainstorm a list of vivid verbs corresponding to the movements. Students will create a character through movement and show how he/she would perform certain actions. Writing assignment: Students will write a personal narrative based on their character.

Day 2 - "The First Snow" - Using the 5 senses for movement and writing -Students will brainstorm a list of words that describe sensory memories of a first snow. Students will create moves and gestures that clearly express the meaning of these words. Writing Assignment: Using one sense, students will write a paragraph describing snow.

Day 3 - Snow is Metaphors - Students will brainstorm a list of metaphors for snow (Snow is..) In groups students will create a movement piece based on one metaphor. Writing Assignment: Students will write a poem or paragraph based on their metaphor.
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Day 4 - The Snow Dance by Lezlie Evans -Dancing a Story - Students will act out the story to words and music. Students will create their own characters and movement for the situations depicted in the story. Writing Assignment: Students will make an outline of the elements of the story (setting, characters, problem, solution, important events, and denouement).

Day 5 - 8 - Choreography - Creating and rehearsing original movement pieces - Students will create graphic organizers based on their ideas for dances and writing on the theme of snow. Students select a topic and create a short movement piece. Students perform their choreography for the class. Students give and receive critiques using dance vocabulary. Students revise and refine their dances. Writing Assignment: Students write a reflection on the stages of the creative process.

Day 9 - Performance - Students will perform their works informally in the classroom or for a larger audience. Performance will be video taped. Writing Assignment: Students will write reflections of performance experience.
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Day 10 - Evaluation and Reflection - Students will watch the video and self-critique. Artist will lead a discussion with students using dance vocabulary.

Writing Assignment: The artist and the teachers will decide on a method of assessment. Students write about what they have learned from the residency.

Writing Assignment: Students will write an original story based on the group choreography.

Writing Assignment: Students will do a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting the process of writing with the process of choreography.
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