Taster: Lesson 1 Getting Started and Developing Movement Patterns

60 mins


  • Lesson Film
  • Clear empty space
  • PE kit and bare feet
  • Choreographic ideas

In this lesson you will explore some of the characters and one of the themes from The Nutcracker. You will be developing some movement patterns based on characters from the ballet, which you can then develop and structure in the second lesson ready to perform at your chosen event.

    Getting Started and Developing Movement Patterns

    During the first lesson, you will explore some of the characters and one of the themes from The Nutcracker. You will be developing some movement patterns based on characters from the ballet, which you can then develop and structure in the second lesson ready to perform at your chosen event.

    It will be helpful to look at the film ‘Developing Movement Patterns’ with your class before you begin. You might also find it useful to familiarise yourself and your dancers with the story of The Nutcracker, find out more about the ballet and meet the characters before you begin dancing.

    One of the most exciting, climatic moments of Act 1 is the tremendous battle fought between the toy soldiers who are defending the Nutcracker doll himself and the Mouse-King alongside his dastardly team of mice. All have been brought to life by the magic summoned by Drosselmeyer.

    In this lesson you will be using ideas and movements from this section of the ballet to inspire your dance.

    Lesson Outcomes:

    In this lesson you will be exploring the theme of conflict and developing the following skills:

    • Developing movement patterns to create non-contact group work.
    • Using different dynamics.
    • Understanding how spatial directions (forward, backwards, sideways, up and down) can affect group work.
    • collaborative skills.

    Curriculum Outcomes:

    History – relate to WW1 and 2, Vikings and Egyptians conflict situations.

    PE – to use control and balance in movement.

    PSHE – working towards shared goals and expressing a range of feelings.

  • The Story of The Nutcracker

    5 mins

    Introduce your class to the story of The Nutcracker through this animated video.

  • The Nutcracker - Meet the Characters

    5 mins

    Meet the key characters who bring the story of The Nutcracker to life.

  • Developing Movement Patterns

    5 mins

    Radzi talks with David Pickering about the evil Mouse King in The Nutcracker. They explore dance motif and what movements and gestures can be associated with that character.

  • Find out more about The Nutcracker

    5 mins

    Use this unit to browse related Nutcracker content from our YouTube channel.

  • Warm Ups

    The warm up is a good opportunity to introduce the characters and themes of the dance you will be creating and begin to create movement material. Of the three warm ups below, we recommend you try the Battle Warm Up, as it most relevant to the theme of this lesson, but the others also explore different themes from the ballet. These are examples of movement tasks that ignite the dancers’ imaginations. The warm up also gets the dancers familiar with the space you are working in and allows their bodies to get warm and ready to do more. When you are devising a warm up activity, ask yourself which SHAPES might your ideas make and how might they MOVE? If you were doing a dance about being in a winter wonderland, you might like to think about different activities that we can do in the snow (throwing snowballs, building a snowman, sliding and falling, sledging, etc.). You could create some very brief movement actions depicting these activities and ask the dancers to enact them in pairs. Any theme or idea can slot into this structure and of course your dancers’ ideas can be incorporated into the activity too.

  • Getting Started Warm ups

    10 mins

    Warming up is very important to prevent injury and to focus the mind and body for the creative activity ahead.

  • Creative Exploration

    In the first lesson, you will need to introduce the context and theme of your dance. You can create your own creative exploration tasks or use the examples provided here. You will need at least one task to offer up to the dancers for creative exploration, possibly two. A choreographic task gives the dancers the opportunity to explore the ideas you are using as a stimulus and therefore to devise a variety of movement responses to them. Building on the shapes and freeze frames that depicted the characters in the warm up, by the end of the exploration movement phrases will begin to emerge. Later on in the process, these phrases can be developed but it is important that, to start with, you initiate a process that will give you small, repeatable phrases. Anything too long and complicated will not be helpful.

  • Perform and Evaluate

    Make time at the end of every session to look at as much of the work created as possible. It’s great for the dancers to be able to see everyone’s responses to the tasks set, and it also gives you time to think about what is working and which direction you want to take the dance.

    Every week you will need to review material, making decisions about what works and what is less successful, discussing the reasons for your opinions with the group. If something isn’t working then drop it; you neither have to nor will be able to use all the movement material your dancers create.

    It is a really good idea to establish this notion early on so that your dancers do not get overly attached to a particular phrase. Prepare them for the fact that some movement phrases will be developed and some will not end up in the final dance. 

    This is a process you will all go through together, you should all have your eyes on the bigger picture that will be your dance.

    Cool Down

    It is good practice to give the dancers the opportunity to transition from ‘dance space’ to classroom, and it may also offer some calm after an active session. You might want to use the cool down as an opportunity to discuss the dance so far, or to initiate a fun way of getting shoes and socks back on.

  • Ballet Cool Down

    5 mins

    The purpose of the cool down each week is to lower the heart rate and focus the children at the end of an exciting lesson.