chapter  7
16 Pages

Ensemble dance-play

WithJan Deans, Susan Wright

This chapter demonstrates that, through ensemble dance-play, young children are active participants in a creative group process where each child expresses him or herself individually, while at the same time cooperates and collaborates with peers to support the whole group process. As Mettler (1979) describes this situation, “the group expresses itself through the members just as the members express themselves through the group” (p. 403). In the example presented the children demonstrate a culture of body thinking where individual expression morphs naturally into whole group expression. The children follow the lead of the teacher, adopting similar or complementary movements, moving in unison at times and at other times expressing individually but at all times staying on task to maintain their commitment to the group process.

Vygotsky (1978) notes that, “learning awakens a variety of internal developmental processes that are able to operate only when the child is interacting with people in the environment and with his peers” (p. 80). In this chapter one interpretative dialogic ensemble or whole group dance is presented to demonstrate children’s deep level of “knowing about the body from within in a concentrated way” (Samson, 2011, p. 84). The discussion focuses on group learning and the power of dance-play to support non-verbal social contagion, empathy and “embodied awareness between inside and outside, and amongst bodies” (Springgay & Freedman, 2007, p. xxi).