Can you name a fairy tale that doesn’t have a bullying character? It’s not easy, is it? Most well-known fairy tales—Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Three Little Pigs, Peter Pan, Rumpelstiltskin, and so on—have bullies. For that reason, Grade 4 teachers in South Huntington thought exploring bullying and fairy tales was a perfect fit. They invited teaching artist Danielle Marie Fusco to collaborate with them on an art-integrated project that would add a dance component to student learning. Ms. Fusco used dance and the fairy tale Cinderella to reinforce the classroom’s anti-bullying lessons.
During the first of her five residency sessions, Ms. Fusco explained to the students that they would be learning dance elements and how those elements might be used to express characters’ traits and changes in a literary work. Ultimately, the students would use their knowledge of dance and fairy tales to interpret the characters in Cinderella. (Scroll down to the end of this article to view Ms. Fusco’s fabulous video summarizing the project.) The teaching artist began by introducing several dance elements, including locomotive and axial movements, and smooth and sharp. Ms. Fusco also played two video clips about bullying. The first was a 1929 interpretation of bullying…
The second video clip was a modern day interpretation of bullying...
The students discussed the videos and the use of the dance elements. Ms. Fusco handed out workbooks to record, organize and reflect on what was being learned/discussed during the lesson and subsequent lessons.
Next, the teaching artist divided the class into small groups. Each group created its own version of one of the two videos. Afterwards, the groups performed their interpretations and discuss their peers’ performances. They considered what movements (ie, locomotive, axial, smooth or sharp) had been utilized.
In subsequent sessions, Ms. Fusco introduced additional dance elements (ie, mirroring, partnering, counterbalance, symmetry) and shared video clips that demonstrated the elements.
Once again, the students collaborated to create movement phrases with the lesson’s dance elements.
In Session 3 and 4, the groups began to think about choreography that might express bullying and how to tell a story through dance. The teaching artist discussed structure and narrative in dance, such as creating a beginning and end. She and the students talked about the story of Cinderella. “Was Cinderella bullied?” Ms. Fusco asked. She challenged the children to use movement language to show how Cinderella felt. The student groups began developing a modern-day version of Cinderella. Ms. Fusco (below) guided the children through the creative process.
During the fifth and culminating session, Ms. Fusco and the students discussed Lyle Cogen’s “Sticks and Stones,” a show about bullying that they’d recently seen performed. “How can we prevent bullying?” she asked the children. “What can we do to bring people together and celebrate their differences and similarities?” Afterwards, the students performed their modern-day Cinderella dance narratives and reflected. Here are some photos of the final performances as well as a video summary of the project...
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