Religion through dance

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By Jane Bowerprovides training in dance, drama, art and literacy

Teach traditional Hindu stories through movement and mime.

Religion through dance

One way to explore different religions with your class is through dance. Dance can tell a thousand stories through movement alone – expressing emotions, feelings and characters. Dance allows children to interpret and reflect the stories that they have read, and gives them the opportunity to think about how they can translate what they have read into a mime or dance sequence.

The dances detailed in this article were developed in response to requests from two schools, one exploring multicultural art forms and the other, India. In neither case were the children particularly familiar with using dance as a storytelling language, so my starting point was to explain that this was how I see dance, and that our aim was to tell some famous Hindu stories using our bodies.

As the dance sequences are telling stories, and therefore have a clear order, you can use almost any Indian music, as it can act as background rather than necessarily matching moves. The music I used was A Panorama of Indian Music Volume 1 (EMI 6TWOS49428). This may be difficult to obtain, but I have mentioned the track beside each dance in case you happen to have a copy. The sources of the stories are also given. Each dance was done with a different Key Stage 2 class who worked with me for 45 minutes to an hour, beginning with the reading of the story.

1. Prahlad and the Demon Story:

‘Prahlad and the Demon’ from Hindu Festivals by Kerena Marchant (Hodder Wayland, 0750225947). Music track: Baba (My father, my heritage).

The elephants now become dancing, flickering flames, which dart around Prahlad

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