Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Using Movement to Tell the Story of a Sunflower

Another group of students in our class chose to incorporate movement as a language with which they could tell the story of sunflowers - from seed to flower to disintegration and rebirth. Their ideas slowly developed over time, as showcased in an earlier blog post on the Sunflower Show After storyboarding their ideas separately, the three girls then decided to combine their story to make one larger story that they could tell using movement.  Working with their teachers, they began to think about what movements would effectively tell the story and how to choreograph their movements  together for a performance piece.
Early plans
A collaborative piece like this requires serious negotiating skills and open communication: 

Thinking more deeply about choreographed movements, the girls developed their plans:

K:  Part 1:  I curl up...I get on my knees and then I start to stand up. 
I rise to my full height and then I get on my tippy toes. 
Then I go offstage and take off my sunflower costume and then
I come out looking sad.  I look frustrated and crying...

I put on my dead sunflower costume and start to get to my knees. 
Then I curl over and seeds come out of my inside pockets.  The end.

Part 2:  The second part is on the top [of this picture].

Part 3:  Get up on your legs and arms, and then get up on two feet. 
Then start to stand up and move slowly and move the top of your body around. 
Your head droops down as the seed.  Your hand flies around in a circle like
its moving wind while you run in a circle. 

Part 4:  Starts the same as part two.
[Teacher note:  note how the seed emerges at the top and then flowers,
and the girls at the bottom of the drawing are covered in seeds.  I. elaborates below.]

I:  On my full height, then on my full height, then bend down
and then we put on our seed dresses.

I:  I start in seed, pushing in, rises up, up, and up into the sunflower. 

The girls worked out their ideas by putting in a lot of practice:
They later acted their performance out for Marty Gravett, who videotaped it and played it back for them.  The girls watched their work and gave themselves feedback.
I (giggling):  We look weird.  We are just talking, not dancing. 
B:  I was sticking my tongue out too much.
K:  Let's practice again.  We need more practice.
 Making plans - reviewing their work - rethinking their ideas: 
all working together to inform their project. 
In the process, they learned that even good ideas
need constant refinement, cooperation, and patience...
and that all the players need to stay in connection 
with one another to make it work.

Sharing their preliminary work with their peers provided additional feedback.

R. and L. take a look at the girls' performance
Soon, it was time to think about how to present their work.  What props might they need?  How would the performance be structured?  Who would be the audience?
Sit the props up.  Get the cushion and the introdution. Costume.
B. thought about how to adorn the classroom whiteboard with colorful pictures
to enhance the performance:

How best to greet your audience and introduce your work?

The big day finally arrived and all of the first and second graders 
were invited to watch the show...
[note:  please pardon the student's head on the left!  ;) ]


  1. I love watching the finished dance, but even more than that I love watching and reading about the process. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into the most important part of the work; the planning, negotiations, re-working, reflections, etc. The children are grasping, in their real world the importance of the journey and not just the destination. Thank You Christine, Mauren and Marty~

  2. I love it! It is wonderful to see how confident the girls look up there.