line dancers

Ring Dances and Line Dances – Idea File

Students perform a ring dance and a line dance, each from a different culture, and explore the similarities and differences between the two dances.

Grades: K-3

Punchinella on Dances from Many Cultures

Suggested Uses:

  • Dance: cultures (Appalachian, Native American, African-American, European)
  • Dance: purposes (recreational, ceremonial) and styles (folk dances)

Teaching Concepts:

  • Folk dances are based on movement patterns. Two common patterns are ring dances and line dances.
  • Learning dances from different cultures helps students better understand and appreciate those cultures.
Lesson Idea

Prepare: Select at least two dances from the Dances from Many Cultures resource that you will teach your students or that they will learn from watching the video demonstrations. Choose one ring dance (“Punchinella,” “Seven Jumps,” “Ciranda,” “Little Johnny Brown”) and one line dance (“Zuni Harvest Dances,” “Goin’ to Boston,” “Upon a Summer’s Day”). To make the experience more meaningful, make sure each dance is from a different culture. You’ll find information about each dance in the “Dance and Culture” section of the Dance binder.

Teach: Teach students the two dances. Before each dance, provide them with background about the dance—where it came from, the story behind it, its purpose, and other details students will find interesting. You may choose to have students watch the video demonstrations so they can see what the dance looks like or to teach the dances yourself, after watching the demonstrations and reading the instructions.

Discuss: What students liked about the two dances. Was one dance more fun or easier to perform than the other? How are the two dances similar? How are they different? Why do students think the circle and the line are popular dance patterns? Do they know any dances that are performed in a circle? In a line?

Expand: Add to the experience by teaching one or more folk dances from cultures other than those students have already experienced. Show “Powwow” and “Three Irish Dances” from the DanceSense Enhanced resource and “African Dance Performances” from the African Root resource. Have students look for similarities between the dances they’ve learned and the dances they’re seeing performed.

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K-12The Arts