Ask students to find images of dance that reflect various aspects of space, for example, dance that uses circles and straight lines, dance that uses high and low levels, and dance that takes up a small amount and large amount of space.
Have students look at a variety of videos of dance and discuss each in terms of one or more of the elements. Is one or more elements sometimes more noticeable in a dance than another element?
Have students explore the elements through movement activities. For example, for space, have them freeze in a shape, then change that shape by moving one arm, one leg, their upper body, etc. For time have them do movements at various tempos. For force, have students make movements that reflect different qualities or ideas, such as hot, cold, angry, sad, excited, happy, old.
Movement surrounds us, and if we look closely, we see that dance is all around us as well. Movement and dance take on countless forms, from the movement of children at play to the practice of yoga to the dance forms of jazz, ballet, or tap.
Dance styles vary from dance to dance, culture to culture, and choreographer to choreographer. As with any art form, however, dance can be broken down into some fundamental components. These basic elements of dance are space, time, and force.
The element of space refers to individual body shapes, the design of groups of bodies in space, levels at which movements take place (high, low, medium), directions (forward, backward, sideways), and pathways (circular, straight, zigzag).Time is both a music and dance element. Aspects of time include beat, tempo, duration, rhythm, and accent.
The element of force refers to the use of energy in movement. Movements can be light or heavy, sharp or smooth, or tight or relaxed.
Every dance is a combination of these three elements, and being able to recognize and describe how the elements are used in a dance can help us better understand the purpose of the dance and the ideas being expressed.
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