Education Resources

Terrain: Class Activities: Years 7 – 10 (Stages 4 & 5)


Terrain is inspired by the area of Australia known as Lake Eyre a landscape from where human beings draw life and express meaning to that life. Terrain explores the fundamental connection between Aboriginal people and land – how we treat our land, how we understand its spirit, and how we regard its future.

Summary of curriculum related links:

Things to Think About and Do

1) Before Viewing

History / Year 7 / Historical Knowledge and Understanding / Investigating the ancient past

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

  • Encourage the students to experience the artforms of Dance, Music and Visual Arts by:
    • moving their body both individually and with others; showing awareness of their body in space and in relation to objects around them
    • improvising and arranging music, using texture, dynamics and expression to manipulate the elements of music
    • experimenting with visual conventions and materials, including exploration of techniques used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, to represent a theme, concept or idea in their artwork
  • Check that students are aware that they can interpret meanings from viewing and listening to artworks and texts, and that all artforms can tell stories which may have a beginnings, middles and ends?
  • Encourage students’ recognition that people from different cultures create and perform, and may have different reasons for doing so. Discuss the importance of conserving the remains of the ancient past, including the heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
  • Assist students to understand that as an audience member or viewer of art, it is important to concentrate on experiencing by viewing and listening.

Geography / Year 7 / Geographical Knowledge and Understanding / Unit 1: Water in the world

Geography / Year 8 / Geographical Knowledge and Understanding / Unit 1: Landforms and landscapes

Pose questions that help them understand the ideas that the dance artwork Terrain is based

  • Who are the Arabunna people and what do we know about them?
  • Where in Australia is the Lake Eyre basin?
  • What is a salt lake and where are there other salt lakes in the world?
  • What is meant by internal drainage of a salt lake?
  • What is the landscape like in the Lake Eyre region?

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 including those relating to landforms and creatures that represent spirits.

  • Who are the dancers of Bangarra? Where do they come from?
  • Where is the company Bangarra based?
  • What is a cultural advisor?

2) As you view

Ask the students 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

English / Year 7 / Language / Language for interaction

English / Year 9 & 10 / Literacy / Interpreting, analysing, evaluating

Pose questions that remind them of their viewing experience.

  • How many sections of the full production are shown in the resource?
  • How would you describe the Elements of Dance, Visual Conventions, and Elements of Music in Red Brick?
  • Describe the costumes of the dancers in the second section – Spinifex? How do the costumes and the movements work together in this section?
  • Why might the two dancers in the third section – Salt – be costumed differently?
  • Describe the way the group moves/dances in the section – Landform? How would you describe theElements of Dance, Visual Conventions, and Elements of Music in this section?
  • What are the characteristics/dynamics of the movement and/or music in the last section – Deluge?

English / Year 7 & 8 / Literature / Responding to literature
English / Year 10 / Language / Language for interaction

Geography / Year 10 / Geographical Knowledge and Understanding / Unit 1:
Environmental change and management

History / Year 9 / Historical Knowledge and Understanding / Australia and Asia / Making a nation

History / Year 10 / Historical Knowledge and Understanding / Rights and freedoms / Rights and freedoms (1945 – the present

  • How are the colours and the backrops relevant to each of the sections? The dance theatre production of Terrain illustrates issues associated with care for the environment.
  • Are there any issues arising from colonisation evident in the work?
  • What influence has mining had on the Lake Eyre region?
  • What is the Aboriginal and Torres trait Islander Peoples’ approach to custodial responsibility and environmental management of Lake Eyre?

Collect, compare and categorise facts and opinions.

English / Year 7 – 10 / Language / Expressing and developing ideas

Movement and meaning

  • Describe the way the dancers in Spinifex move?
  • Describe the movements of the dancers in Salt?
  • Describe the movements of the dancers in Deluge?
  • What is the relationship between the dancers and the audience? Do any of the dancers look at the audience? Why/why not?

English / Year 7 – 10 / Language / Expressing and developing ideas

Non movement aspects

  • Describe the aesthetics of the artwork, including the colour of the background, floor, props and the lighting (colour, brightness, point/s of focus) in each section.
  • Which sounds and/or instruments can you hear in each section?

English / Year 7 & 8 / Literature / Literature and context

English / Year 9 & 10 / Literacy / Texts in context

Societies and Cultures
The production Terrain describes the powerful sense of personal and cultural connection Aboriginal people have for land, and the need to reconnect and go ‘on country’.

  • Why do you think the choreographer chose to develop this dance theatre production based on the Lake Eyre region?
  • The performance is on a stage in a theatre. Is this a traditional or contemporary place for Aboriginal people to dance?
  • What is the cultural context in which this dance was developed, or in which it is viewed, and what does it signify? What are the stylistic differences in cultural dances from different countries including Asia, Europe and the USA?

4) Next steps

English / Year 7 – 10 / Language / Expressing and developing ideas

Transfer and apply information in one setting to enrich another.

  • Write or find a story that describes losing and/or finding something precious.
  • Use mime to describe the story through movement. Exaggerate and simplify the movements so that the gestures become easy to see.
  • Explore different dynamics as you vary your movements and what you do with the imaginary object, for example, scoop the object into your hand, hold it tight, throw it in the air playfully, run to catch it, and/or swing it around.

English / Year 7 – 10 / Language / Expressing and developing ideas

Make dance sequences and experiment with a range of options when seeking solutions and putting ideas into action.

  • Select your favourite parts of your precious object ‘story’ making sure that you keep a mixture of different travelling movements. Repeat this sequence so that you are able to perform it in the same way each time.
  • Teach your sequence to another student or small group.
  • Choose a series of different sounds or play different pieces of music to accompany the movement. Which suits the mood /ideas of your dance best?
  • Experiment with facing different directions and travelling to different parts of the room whilst performing your sequence.

Explore situations using creative thinking strategies to propose a range of alternatives.

  • Try performing your dance sequence at the same time as several other people. Try performing your sequence close to another person.
  • Watch another group do this with their sequences. What do you see? Can you watch all of them at once or do you focus on one then another?
  • Organise your sequences so that there is a point where you meet. What happens if you cross or interrupt each other’s sequences? Create a new duo section you could perform together (you might drop or pass your object and the other person picks it up and/or uses it).
  • How else could you link or contrast these sequences?

Explain and justify ideas and outcomes.

  • What could you call your dance? What kind of costume or set could you make or choose to go with your dance? Why have you made these choices?
  • How is the movement of the body used to represent your idea/s?
  • How did the dancers use space and energy to create the ideas/feelings in this dance?
  • Which elements of dance were used?
  • What could you learn from watching people and creating sequences based on their movements?
  • What movements could you learn, and use in a dance, based on everyday activities and other cultural practices?

Based on Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) Level 5 & 6 statements from the Critical and Creative Thinking learning continuum for 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 03/06/15.

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