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Moth: Class Activities years 3/4
The dance Moth (Dhumar) represents a story of spiritual inheritance and spiritual existence. It also reflects the last stage of a lifecycle and the birth of a new creature. The dance illustrates the final process of metamorphosis, which begins with the ova, through the larvae and pupae stages till finally the moth emerges from its cocoon to discover its environment.
In this dance, the moth emerges and transforms, reflecting the human lifecycle and the passing on of knowledge. Moth represents the resilience of the spirit of Indigenous Australians.
Note to teachers: Be aware that Indigenous students in your classrooms may share these understandings. Be open to discussing these ideas. Connect with your local Indigenous community to discuss and share their ideas about cultural life.
Things to Think About and Do
1 Before Viewing
What do students already know and what are some things that they can do?
- Provide the students with experiences of moving their body both individually and with others; showing awareness of their body in space and in relation to objects around them.
- Give students opportunities to raise their awareness of body position and understand the difference between different parts of their body, moving in different directions, levels, shapes and pathways.
- Encourage children to move with another person and explore moving around, side-by-side and in front and behind.
- Check that children understand that movements can be used to explore and improvise dance ideas for example gliding like a bird, jumping in the mud.
- Invite students to interpret meanings from watching dance and understand that when part of an audience it is important to concentrate on experiencing the dance by watching and listening.
Pose questions to expand their knowledge of the ideas the dance is based on.
- What kind of creature is a moth?
- Can you find out its name in an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language? What is the name and where is this language spoken?
- What does this insect look like?
- What is metamorphosis?
- What are the stages in the life cycle of a moth? Egg, caterpillar, pupae, adult.
- If the first two dances in the Life Cycle are called Leaf and Caterpillar. What could this dance be called?
Bangarra is a company of Aboriginal and Torres Strait dancers based in Sydney. The dancers are from all different parts of Australia. Pose questions that expand students’ knowledge about where and how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people live. Expand students understanding that contemporary Indigenous people participate in all facets of the community and as artists they may choose to communicate ideas on based on traditional stories including those relating to animals which represent spirits.
- Where do you find moths?
- Are there different kinds of moths?
- Where is Arnhem Land? Who does the land there belong to?
- Who are the dancers of Bangarra? Where do they come from?
2 As you view
Ask the children to watch and listen to the dance, be a respectful audience and try to remember as much as they can about what they are seeing, hearing and feeling.
3 After viewing
Pose questions that remind them of their experience.
- How many dancers are there?
- Are they male or female?
- What are they wearing?
- What do the things on the screen behind the dancers look like? What else do they look like?
- Which different stages in the moth’s life cycle did you see?
- Which moments remind us of the pupae stage?
- Which movements help them look like they are winged moths?
Identify some of the main ideas and select and clarify information from the children’s responses.
- Why do you think there are two moths?
- Why don’t the dancers fly off the floor?
This dance reflects the last stage of a lifecycle and the birth of a new creature. It is a story of spiritual inheritance and spiritual existence.
- What else could the second dancer represent?
Collect, compare and categorise facts and opinions.
- The dancers are leaning forward and stretching out at the beginning of the dance. What do you think they are doing?
- How do their movements change towards the end of the dance?
- Why don’t the dancers flap their arms at the end of the dance?
- Why do the two dancers stay close together?
- Why is the stage quite dark?
- There is a lot of dust on the stage. What do you think it is? What do you think it represents? What do you think it is made of?
4 Next steps
Expand on known ideas to create new and imaginative combinations through improvising, exploring and experimenting with movement.
- How can we change from one way of moving to another? This is an example of metamorphosis.
Transfer and apply information in one setting to enrich another.
- Choose a shape where one specific body part is in contact with the floor (eg your back). We call this body part your base. Now gradually move off that base (your back) and onto another chosen base/s (eg your left shoulder, ear and the front of your lower legs). Chose a third base/s (eg the side of your body) and move into a shape where only that part of your body is in contact with the floor. Now return to your first base and shape. Slowly and smoothly move through each of the three shapes repeating the sequences several times as a cycle.
Shape their artworks
- Explore one way of moving such as walking then gradually change this to running, then skipping. Now choose a movement which involves having two feet and two hands on the floor. Without stopping gradually change this movement to one where you are moving only on your feet. Gradually return to the first movement then find a way of changing the way you move so that you get closer and closer to the floor until you are able to slide. Repeat this sequence and share with another person.
Experiment with a range of options when seeking solutions and putting ideas into action.
- Experiment with making shapes with your whole body. Try making round, elongated, symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes. Choose your four favourite shapes and teach them to another person.
- If Moth represents the ‘pupae to moth’ stage of the life cycle, what would the metamorphosis from egg to caterpillar, or the caterpillar to pupae, look like?
Explore situations using creative thinking strategies to propose a range of alternatives.
- There are a number of triangles used throughout the dance. Look at the costumes and at the moments when the choreography uses triangles. What do you think the triangles may represent?
Draw on prior knowledge and use evidence when choosing a course of action or drawing a conclusion
- Moths don’t have hands but they do have other appendages. What else could the dancers use their arms to represent? Look closely at pictures of moths for ideas.
Communicate ideas through art works
- Choose one of the sequences based on travelling, a sequence involving using different bases and a sequence of different shapes. Teach each sequence to another person or group. Choose the order in which you will perform each sequence and in which direction or part of the room you will perform the sequence.
Reflect on, explain and check the processes used to come to conclusions explaining ways they check their thinking and deal with setbacks
- Reflect on this order to see if you now have a clear beginning, middle and end. Alter the order to improve the changes between each sequence. Are you communicating a story in your dance?
- Perform your dance to another group. Ask them what they saw and felt when they watched your dance. Could they see you metamorphosing from one thing to another?
Explain and justify ideas and outcomes
- What could you call your dance? What kind of music could you make or choose to go with your dance? Why have you made these choices?