Rationale: The visual arts and dance provide us with opportunities to express emotion that transcend what can be expressed in words alone. In their book, Literacy and the Arts for the Integrated Classroom, Nancy Cecil and Phyllis Lauritzen drive this point home eloquently in a quote attributed to Isadora Duncan, “If I could tell you what I mean, there would be no point in dancing!” (p. 108). Constructing the ribbon wands individually and as a group fosters further student involvement in the creative process including the ability to analyze the effects of color and motion in expressing differing emotions. Because the ribbon wand is a lifeless sculpture without body movement, students naturally appreciate the necessary connection between the visual arts and dance in expressing themselves using line, color, contrast, shape and body movement.
Components / Objectives:
Artistic Perception. Each student will construct a ribbon wand which, through the use of line, color, contrast and shape can be used to better express a given emotion.
Creative Expression. Each student will improvise a brief dance created through manipulation of the ribbon wand using three distinct body movements designed to express a given emotion.
Aesthetic Valuing. Students will critique one another’s dance movements, offering their best guess as to what feeling is being expressed and which dance elements contributed to that expression of feeling.
Strategy: A combination of direct instruction and guided discovery will be used.
Vocabulary: Line, Color, Contrast, Shape
Line. An identifiable path moving in space which varies in width, length and direction.
Color. Pigment dependent on the reflection or absorption of light upon a given surface. The three attributes of color are hue, intensity and value. The spectrum is divided into six basic hues; violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Intensity is the degree of brightness. Value is the lightness and darkness of a given hue.
Contrast. Opposites such as light and hard, rough and smooth, soft and hard in close proximity.
Shape. Form of something that may be open, closed, free-form or geometric.
Introduction. Begin the lesson by asking the following questions: Have you ever had a feeling that was hard to put into words? Have you ever known how someone was feeling simply by watching the way their body was moving? What are some of the ways feelings can be expressed in art through the use of color? Line? Shape? Contrast? Movement? After a general discussion, the expectations for constructing individual ribbon wands are presented. Display several different types of wands from the simplistic to the more elaborate. Model the motions created by the different types of wand, from the staccato movement created from short ribbon bunches to the long, flowing movement created from the gentle strokes of a single eight foot ribbon. Model the following construction steps prior to directing students to begin:
Constructing Ribbon Wands:
1. Table monitors will distribute materials including scissors, hole punches, dowels and hardware.
2. Students will select one or more lengths of ribbon.
3. Students will attach eye screws to ends of doweling, swivel hooks to eye screws.
4. Students will punch a single hole in one end of each ribbon strand, notch the other end to prevent raveling and attach each ribbon strand by clipping through the swivel hook.
5. Clean up work area to the satisfaction of the table clean-up monitors which were assigned prior to this lesson.
Students will then be invited to "test out" their wands in an open area such as a gymnasium or playground area. Once all students have joined the test area, the whole group will explore body movement in space using appropriate background music such as "Fantasia".
Closure: Once students have explored as a group, individual student volunteers will demonstrate their feelings through brief ribbon wand dances which are to include three distinct body movements designed to express a given emotion. Dancers will be directed to present their dance across a "stage area" while other class members sit in an "audience circle" from which to observe and evaluate. Dancers will then be asked to call on individual audience members to guess the feeling and state one attribute of either the wand or the dance movements which they believed contributed to the expression of that feeling. Once several guesses have been offered, the dancer will state the feeling or feelings that it was their intention to express and how they used color, contrast, line, shape and movement to do so.
Evaluation: Teacher will evaluate wands for the use of color, contrast, line and shape. The dance will be evaluated for the presence of three distinct body movements and the extent to which the dance communicated the intended emotion. Teacher will listen to student critiques for accuracy and understanding.
Materials: 1/4" x 18" doweling (one per student) Eye-tipped wood screw and swivel hook (one each per student). Ribbon spools of various colors and widths (approximately 10 yards per student).
Clean-up: As described above, table monitors will be assigned, with individuals released to exploration area as clean-up is complete.
Extensions: This lesson can readily be adapted K-12. I have used it with eighth graders as a culminating expression of support following a cross-age Peer Helper program with the wands offered as a final gift to their little buddies. For cooperative groups, students could be asked to develop more elaborate dances within a small "dance troupe".