Education Resources

About: Class Activities: Years 5/6 (Stage 3)

Bangarra’s production of About is inspired by the culture and practices of the people of Torres Strait Islands, focussing on the four winds of the Torres Strait  – Gub.


Things to Think About and Do

1) Before Viewing

Pose questions that help them understand the ideas that the dance is based on?

  • What do you know about the Torres Strait?
  • Where are the Torres Strait Islands and how many are there?
  • Name some of the main islands?
  • Can you name a language of the Torres Strait?
  • From which island of the Torres Strait is the choreographer of About?

Expand students’ understanding that contemporary Indigenous people participate in all facets of the community and as artists they may choose to communicate ideas based on traditional stories, community issues and cultural practices.

  • How does the work of Bangarra help us become more aware of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and culture?
  • What is a cultural advisor?
  • Who are the dancers of Bangarra? Where do they come from?
  • Where is the company Bangarra based?

What do students already know about body skills and what are some things that they can do?

  • Encourage the students to experience moving their whole body. Encourage the students to experience isolating different body parts: divide the body in to body zones focusing on head, chest, arms, hips and legs.
  • Ask students to use increasingly complex combinations of space including level, direction, dimension, shape, planes and pathways.
  • Encourage students to use combinations of time including: metre, tempo, accent, and phrasing.
  • Provide opportunities for students to use combinations of dynamic qualities including: sustained, percussive, suspended, swinging, collapsing, vibratory
  • Ask students to move both individually and with others; showing awareness of spatial relationships, groupings and in relation to other dancers and to objects around them.

Encourage students to identify and prioritise what they know about choreographic processes through:

  • encouraging students to use choreographic devices including abstraction, transitions, variation and contrast, and to recognise different forms and structures.
  • checking that students are aware that choreographers use the elements of dance to express intent.
  • discussions that encourage students’ recognition that dance can relate to its social and historial context.
  • assisting students’ understanding that there are specific protocols for viewing and performing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dances.


2) As you view

Ask students to watch and listen to the excerpts of About, be a respectful audience and try to remember as much as they can about what they are seeing, hearing and feeling.

Students may take notes as they watch in order to capture details to describe, analyse, interpret and evaluate the work. Ask students to devise their own methods of notation to capture details. Allow scope for students to identify and justify their chosen method of notation.


3) After viewing

Pose questions that remind them of their experience. Expand on this by identifying some of the main ideas, then selecting and clarifying information from the students’ responses.

  • Name and identify the order in which we see each wind.
  • Describe identifiable features of each wind including: colour, movement motifs, movement quality, accompaniement.
  • Compare similarities and differences between the four winds of the Torres Strait and the conventional western calendar of the seasons.
  • What could each colour connotate about the personality and role of each wind?
  • What could be the significance of the choreographer taking on the role of the ‘human presence’? The movements of the ‘human presence’ contrast in the beginning and end sections. What could this signify?

Collect, compare and categorise facts and opinions focusing on: Movement Aspects, Non-movement Aspects, and Societies and Cultures


Movement Aspects

In the dance, the characteristics of the winds are explored and interpreted through movement. These movements depict qualities like calmness and delicacy, power and aggression, serenity and playfulness. For each wind, analyse the depiction of these qualities by asking students to:

  • Describe the way the choreographer has used space, time and dynamics.
  • Identify, describe and analyse reocurring movements.
  • Discuss the ways the dancers interact with each other through spatial placements, gaze, partner work and solo work.
  • Describe the movements of the ensemble versus the soloist. In what way does the ensemble support the soloist? Draw the spatial relationships in this section.
  • Analyse the structure (choreographic devices) of this section.


Non-movement Aspects
  • Describe the stage set including the colour of the background, floor, props and the lighting (colour, brightness, point/s of focus) in each section.
  • Describe the features of the soundtrack in each section. What instruments are used? What do they sound like? What language is the voice-over speaking? What are some key aspects of this text?
  • What might the use of smoke haze represent? Which sections/winds is this theatrical element predominatly used and how?
  • How would you describe the costumes of the dancers in each section? Why do some dancers wear identical costumes, whilst others have distinct features? What is the source/s of the design for these costumes?


Societies and Cultures

The production of About tells of the four winds of the Torres Strait.

  • Why might the choreographer have chosen to develop a work based on her cultural connection and continuing curiosity about the four winds?
  • From the sections you have viewed, discuss how Elma Kris has achieved this.
  • The performance is on a stage in a theatre. Is this a traditional or contemporaryplace for Torres Strait Islander people to dance?
  • What influence do the winds have on day to day life?


4) Next steps

Expand on known ideas to create new and imaginative combinations through improvising, exploring and experimenting with movement. Use these processes to make a dance sequence.

  • Compare yourself to the four winds and make connections between the characteristics of each wind and your own personality. Associate yourself with one of the winds, as the people of the Torres Strait Islands are known to do.
  • Explore different movements using your wind as a stumlus (e.g. the way the wind makes them feel, how they watch the wind, the shapes and movements of the clouds, the ripples of the wind on the water) in a similar way Kris asked her collaborating performers to do.
  • Abstract these movements by altering space (e.g. size, direction, level), varying time (e.g. stillness, tempo, duration) and contrasting dynamics (e.g. sustained versus collapsing, percussive versus swinging).
  • Select your favourite movements maintaining the original order. Repeat these phrases so that you are able to perform them in the same way each time. Encourage students to talk to their wind with their movements and imagine the impact of the wind through their various dance dynamics.

Explore situations using creative thinking strategies to propose a range of alternatives. Reflect on, explain and check the processes used to come to conclusions, explaining ways students can check their thinking and deal with setbacks.explaining ways they check their thinking and deal with setbacks

  • Try performing your dance sequence at the same time as several other people. Watch another group do this with their sequences. Can you watch all of them at once or do you focus on one then another?
  • Develop a duo. Allow yourselves to cross or interrupt each other’s sequences.
  • Perform your dance in front of your peers. Ask them what they saw and felt when they watched your dance. Did they see a story, series of events or an idea?

Explain and justify ideas and outcomes.

  • How would you describe your dance? Write a short statement of intent?
  • How is the movement of the body used to represent your intention?
  • How did you use space and dynamics to create the ideas/feelings in this dance?
  • What kind of costume could you make or choose to enhance your dance?  Why have you made this choice?

Based on Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) Level 4 statements from the Critical and Creative Thinking Learning Continuum: Inquiring – identifying, exploring and organising information and ideas; Generating ideas, possibilities and actions; Reflecting on thinking and processes; and Analysing, synthesising and evaluating reasoning and procedures areas. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia (CC BY NC SA) licence. Accessed April 2015.


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