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Moth: Class Activities years 5/6
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 they can do?
- Encourage the students to experience moving their body both individually and with others; showing awareness of their body in space and in relation to objects around them.
- Give them opportunities to develop an awareness of and an ability to isolate different parts of their body and make specific actions and gestures.
- Include cross lateral movements in movement activities.
- Ask students to make contrasting shapes with their body (curved/angular; symmetrical/asymmetrical).
- Assist students understanding that movements can be used to explore and improvise dance ideas by controlling and combining different movement qualities.
- Give students opportunities to know that it is possible to show similarity and contrast through movement, for example, can they change the size and speed of their movement and follow pathways on the floor or in the air?
- Provide opportunities for students to practice controlling movement by pausing or freezing, and using contrasting qualities such as smooth and sustained, followed by percussive movement.
- Have students form groupings such as lines or group shapes and lead or follow others in these groupings, moving close together or far apart.
- Give them experiences which assist them to understand that movements can be joined together in order to move on the spot or travel in different ways.
- Check that students are aware that they can interpret meanings from watching dance and that dances can tell a story which may have a beginning, middle and end?
- Encourage students recognition that people from different cultures dance and may have different reasons for dancing.
- Assist students to understand that when part of an audience, it is important to concentrate on experiencing the dance by watching and listening.
Pose questions that help them understand the ideas that the dance is based on?
- What does a moth look like and how does it move (on the ground and in the air)? What are its habits and rituals?
- Where in Australia is this insect found?
- What is metamorphosis and what are the stages in the life cycle of a moth?
- If the first two dances in the Life Cycle are called Leaf and Caterpillar. What could this dance be called?
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.
- Who are the Aboriginal people/s who live in Arnhem Land?
- Who are the dancers of Bangarra? Where do they come from?
- Where is the company Bangarra based?
- Who is Djakapurra Munyarryun?
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. Ask them to notice if the choreographer uses symmetrical or asymmetrical shapes, whether there is a clear beginning, middle and end, and whether there is any repetition.
3) After viewing
Pose questions that remind them of their experience.
- What sort of shapes did you see?
- Did the dancers perform in close proximity?
- What sort of formations did they make?
- Did they travel far across the stage?
Identify some of the main ideas and select and clarify information from the children’s responses.
The dance Moth reflects the last stage of a lifecycle and the birth of a new creature. It also depicts a story of spiritual inheritance and spiritual existence.
- Why do you think there are two dancers?
- What do they 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 these gestures represent?
- How do their movements change towards the end of the dance?
- This dance is performed on a stage. Where does the light for us to see the dancers come from?
- 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? Explore different arm and leg gestures that lead toward, away from, and around their own body. Repeat the movements but alter them subtly each time so that the direction and or gesture changes.
Transfer and apply information in one setting to enrich another.
- Choose a shape which takes up a large amount of space. Now gradually change that shape so that it shrinks. Reverse the process back to the original shape.
- Experiment with gestures which remind you of the movements of a particular animal. Try to use different parts of your body to explore the same idea.(a hand, leg, shoulder or head could draw the pathway of a snake; a chin, elbow knee or chest could describe the movement of a brush turkey).
- Play a knots game. Stand in a circle putting your hands into the centre taking hold of two different people’s hands. As a group unknot yourselves without pulling or hurting others. (A tip! you can release your grip on someone else to make the movement more comfortable)
Make dance sequences
- Make a shape with others. Link your bodies in some way (back to back, side to side, elbow to shoulder). Move together as a group keeping the links but changing the shape. Repeat this so that you can remember the pathways you need to travel to get to your new shape.
- Develop your animal movements into a sequence which travels across the space. Choose three different points to travel to and rest before moving on.
- Join with a partner, who is creating different animal movements, and teach each other your movements.
Experiment with a range of options when seeking solutions and putting ideas into action.
- Experiment with performing the same sequences at the same time; contrasting your sequences and following each other’s movements in canon.
- If Moth represents the ‘pupae to moth’ stage of the life cycle, what would the metamorphosis from your animal’s movements to your partner’s movements 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. 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, one of the sequences 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?