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Shake it Up! 17 Resources for Learning Through Dance

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Quick Picks: Use these resources to shake up learning across subjects and integrate dance into curriculum. Find more resources for integrating arts at PBS LearningMedia.  For full access sign up for a free account.

Caillou’s Dance Party | Video | Grade PreK
Miss Martin is throwing a dance party. Caillou is excited, only… he doesn’t know how to dance! In this video students discover that there is often more than one way to complete a task or activity. Students observe that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to express yourself through dance. Students also learn about dealing with anxiety and building confidence.

Dance in Smarty Pants | Video | Grades PreK-1
In this video segment from Between the Lions, Arty sings a song about dancing in his smarty pants and encourages others to dance in smarty pants as well. It’s a brand new dance, ooh! aah!, dance in smarty pants! This puppet song includes the following guest stars: Mo Lewis, Kelly Ripa, Mo Rocca, Steve Carell, Meredith Viera, Melissa Etheridge, Al Franken, Oliver Platt, Theo, Cleo, the cubs, Busterfield, pigeons, Possibly Barney, and India Arie. This video segment provides a resource for Phonological Awareness.

| Videos | Grades K-13+

Rashidi Omari is a performance artist, writer and educator at Destiny Arts Center, a violence prevention and arts education organization in Oakland. KQED’s Art School stopped by his dance studio to learn more about this dynamic Oakland artist, and find what hip-hop means to him and his students. Omari teaches the basics of beatboxing and demonstrates basic breakdancing moves.

Margaret Jenkins: Dance | Video | Grades K-13+
In this Spark video produced by KQED, follow Margaret Jenkins from rehearsing “Danger Orange” in San Francisco to conducting workshops on composition and sharing choreographic ideas with the Beijing Modern Dance Company in China.

Ghanaian Dance/Drumming (Art School: In the Studio with Kwesi Anku, Kwaku Manu, and Selasi Morgan) | Videos | Grades K-13+
Kwesi Anku, Kwaku Manu, and Selasi Morgan are performing artists who teach at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond, CA and are members of the Bay Area’s West African Music and Dance Ensemble. Originally from Ghana, they came to the US to study dance with their professor at UC Berkeley, Dr. CK Ladzekpo. They stayed in the Bay Area to spread their love of music and dance and to provide opportunities for young people in their community to express themselves, using music and dance as tools for positive change.

ODC Dance | Video | Grades K-13+

In this Spark video produced by KQED, meet Brenda Way who in the three decades since she founded ODC has directed her dancers and staff to accomplish more than they ever dreamed possible. In the 1970s, a group of dancers, musicians and artists from Oberlin College formed the Oberlin Dance Collective (ODC), a collaborative project dedicated to developing and performing new modern dance works. ODC has since become the premier contemporary dance company of the West Coast, performing for more than 50,000 people a year.


Step Re-Mix | Interactive | Grades K-12
Experiment with rhythm through “stepping”, a musical dance form that uses the body as a percussion instrument. Explore polyrhythms as you build a video mix of various steps, claps, and stomps in this online interactive from the Exploratorium.

Mixie’s Boogie Buffet
| Fizzy’s Lunch Lab | Grades 1-4

In this “Fizzy’s Lunch Lab” interactive, students can follow along with Mixie’s dance move lessons. The Lunch Lab characters perform moves such as the Funky Fork, the Jumping Bean, the Mega Mixer, the Milk Shaker or the Jelly Jiggle. Students can also show off their creativity by making their own dance routines.

Dancebeat Explosion
| Interactive | Grades 3-6

Answer musical trivia questions to earn cool dance moves. If you win, you get to watch your character dance, dance, dance! “Chuck Vanderchuck’s ‘Something Something’ Explosion” is designed to help children ages 6 to 9 understand music and music composition by teaching basic musical concepts and performance skills through the study of popular song styles from around the world.

Dance: Floor Paths
| Interactive | Grades 3-12

In dance, a floor path – or pathway – is the “trail” left as the dancer travels through a space. Floor paths can be straight, curved, or a combination of the two. Choreographers try to create a variety of floor paths in order to provide visual interest or to create emotional or psychological impact. For example, a dancer moving directly toward the audience (advancing, coming closer) may have a different effect than one moving away from the audience (retreating).

Choctaw Dances | Video | Grades 4-6
This video, adapted from material provided by the ECHO partners, illustrates some of the traditional activities that connect the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to their past. Activities include traditional dances, the use of traditional instruments such as the Choctaw drum and dance sticks, and participation in games like stickball.

What Does a Choreographer Do? | Video | Grades 4-12
Tap into the mind of choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler as he describes how he choreographs shows like ANNIE: THE MUSICAL. Andy first listens to the music and reads the script to create a vision for the choreography. He then dances his vision in the studio before teaching the choreography to the cast.

Workin’ It Out | Video | 5-8

Staying active is an important part of your overall health. The key is to find activities that both raise your heart rate and that you enjoy doing. It is best to find a balance of aerobic activities for a healthy heart, strength training for strong muscles and bones, and activities that improve your flexibility to reduce injury.

Kou Kou (African Stilt Dancing) | Video | Grades 5-12
In this video meet Moha Doss,  a drummer, singer, and choreographer who has performed with and coached several dance troupes in Ivory Coast. He is also a tailor, specializing in costume design. He is one of a very few acrobat stilt walkers and fire dancers performing in the United States.

Choreographing Large Groups
| Video | Grades 6-12

Student performers are learning and rehearsing the dance for an opening number in which the entire ensemble appears in this video from Broadway or Bust. The choreographer leading the rehearsal is giving the performers dance steps, instructing them on rehearsal discipline, and inspiring them to make a personal connection to what they are performing. Speakers in the video reflect on the need to take care of themselves during long and physically demanding rehearsals.

| Video | 6-13+

In this Spark video produced by KQED, the dancers of the Salt Farm Butoh Dance Company and their artistic director Ledoh work on a new piece called “River of Sand,” an exploration of Ledoh’s birthplace, Burma. As participants in the HCA’s resident artist program, the Salt Farm members have been working on the costuming, set design, lights and music and sharing the activities of their daily lives.


Making the Dance | Video | 9-12
In this video clip from “Give Me the Banjo”, Greg Wilson and Tony Trishka work with dancers from Summer Stages Dance Program ’06 to choreograph and perform pieces from 3 significant eras of banjo dance performance. The dancing reflects a blending of cultures.

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