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Dance and differently abled people

Module by: Siyavula Uploaders. E-mail the author


Grade 8


Module 7



In this unit you will be guided to understand and speak about differently able people and exclusivity in dance. You will also be able to debate the roles traditionally assigned to different genders in dance byrecognising and expressing different points of view.

Activity 1

To warm up properly for dance exercises

  • Before you can begin creating your dance routine, your body must be properly warmed up to prevent injury and to prepare you for the activities that are to follow.
  • This warm-up can be done to music. Choose music you feel comfortable with that is not too fast.

Breathing exercise

  • Stand with feet a hip width apart, arms down at the sides.
  • Lift your arms above your head while inhaling through your nose.
  • Exhaling through your mouth, dropping your arms down and bend your knees at the same time.
  • Repeat four times.

Neck warm up

  • Stand with your feet a hip width apart, arms down at your sides.
  • Drop your head forward and lift. Repeat eight times.
  • Turn your head from side to side (right to left). Repeat eight times.
  • Turn your head from right to left, moving your head down and up in a semi-circular movement. Repeat eight times.

Shoulder warm-up

  • Move your right shoulder up and down.
  • Move your left shoulder up and down.
  • Lift and drop shoulders alternately. Repeat eight times.
  • Lift and drop both shoulders. Repeat eight times.
  • Rotate your right shoulder backwards.
  • Rotate your left shoulder backwards.
  • Rotate both shoulders backwards. Repeat eight times.
  • Rotate your right shoulder forwards.
  • Rotate your left shoulder forwards.
  • Rotate both shoulders forwards. Repeat eight times.

Arm warm-up

  • Lift both arms to the side and move up and down. Repeat eight times.
  • Lift both arms shoulder height, and then up straight above the head, back to shoulder height and down. Repeat eight times.

Upper body warm-up

  • Stand with feet a hip width apart, knees slightly bent and hand on hips. Keep hips facing forwards. Turn upper body to the right, return to centre. Turn upper body to the left, return to centre. Repeat eight times.

Leg warm-up

Face forwards and take a step to the right. With feet and body still facing forwards, take a step to the left. Repeat eight times.

Step to the right and lift left leg. Bend knee back and lift foot to buttocks.

Step to the left and lift right leg. Bend knee back and lift foot to buttocks.

Repeat eight times.

  • Step right, face forwards and lift left knee forwards.
  • Step to the left and lift right knee forwards.
  • Repeat eight times.
  • Keeping feet apart and with both feet firmly on the floor, lunge from side to side. Hands on hips (repeat eight times).
  • Lunge to the right and hold for eight counts.
  • Lunge to the left and hold for eight counts.
  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees bent and hands on hips.
  • Lift toes alternately, keeping heels on the floor. Repeat eight times.
  • Lift heels alternately. Repeat eight times.
  • Walk on the spot for sixteen counts.
  • You should be breathing normally throughout the warm-up session.

Activity 2

To turn dance into something that disabled people can appreciate

We will be looking at movement and creativity in disabled people.

 Blind people

 Deaf or hard of hearing people

 Paraplegics (paralysis of the lower half of the body)

Keep in mind the following five basic body activities when developing your dances:

 travel (moving from one place to another)

 turn (to move around an axis)

 elevation (to move to a higher level)

 gesture (motion of the hands, head or body to express or emphasize an idea or emotion)

 weight transference (to change body weight from one point to another)

Dance and blindness

  • Loss of sight does not restrict movement. The body is still capable of moving in a normal manner and the music can be heard.

Exercise: Blindness

  • Blindfold yourself.
  • Play a piece of music you have selected.
  • Move on one spot (without travelling).
  • Develop arm movements.
  • Develop head movements.
  • Develop upper body movements.
  • Develop leg movements.
  • Combine selected movements.
  • Travel and change direction.
  • Combine selected movements and travelling in different directions.

Dance and the Deaf or Hard of Hearing

  • Loss of hearing does not influence movement of the body. The person can still see, feel and move.

Exercise: Deafness

  • Put earplugs or cotton wool in your ears.
  • Sit on the floor and place your hands on the floor.
  • Play music with a definite drumbeat – traditional African music, Rock, etc.
  • Feel the music through the floor.
  • Stand barefoot on the floor and feel the beat through the floor.
  • Move with the beat of the drum or bass, using every part of your body.
  • Select movements and combine selected movements.
  • Refine and rehearse movements, sections and whole dances.
  • Combine separate qualities – e.g. strong or fast or gentle and slow – with a range of actions.
  • Develop greater sensitivity to rhythm and rhythmic changes.
  • Develop clarity of shape, direction, level and size in performing different actions.

Dance and Paraplegics

  • The restriction in movement is only in the lower body. The upper body – head, arms, torso – can still be freely moved.

Exercise: Paraplegics

  • Sit on a chair.
  • Tie your legs to the chair.
  • Choose a selected piece of music and move your upper body to the music.
  • Isolate the moving parts of the, e.g. arms, head, upper body.
  • Isolate two or three moving body parts of the body in simple co-ordinations.
  • Discover different ways of performing each body action.
  • Show clarity of shape, direction, level and size in performing different actions.
  • Understand and use the restricted spatial elements as expressive features of your dance.
  • Continue creating and performing this dance based on moods and feelings, taking more responsibility in the choice of actions, qualities, spatial and relationship features to express them.
Table 1
  LO 4.1      

Activity 3

To discuss the participation of men and women in ROCK ‘n ROLL


Research the role of the man and woman separately in a partner dance, e.g. the waltz, foxtrot, tango and two-step.

Research the dance, music, fashion and food of the 1950’s.

Compile a file of pictures, music, artists, musicians and video’s of this era.

Once the research has been completed, you will be given the opportunity to debate your point of view in a class debate.

The Dance

  • Choose a rock ‘n roll song.

Choosing partners:

  • Choose your partner from your class. Your partner should be about as tall as you are.
  • Your partner can be either a girl or a boy.
  • If you choose a partner of the same sex as you, you will have to decide who will be the “boy”, and who will be the “girl”.


  • Face your partner.
  • The boy places his hands on the girl’s waist, lifts her and put her down.
  • The boy lifts the girl up and, before bringing her down to the floor, slides her along the floor, between his legs.
  • The boy must lift the girl up with his hands still on her waist, and before bringing her down, allow her to straddle him at the waist with her legs straight.

The Turns

  • Partners must join hands while facing each other, and move to the music (any movements you feel comfortable with).
  • The boy must let go of the girl’s one hand and guide her into a full turn.
  • The girl returns to the boy without letting go of the hand and faces the boy after the turn. The boy takes both hands.
  • Experiment with turns to the side, as well as to the front.

The Dance

  • Experiment with different levels (high, middle, low).
  • Experiment with different lifts.
  • Experiment with different turns.
  • Move to the music while holding hands with your partner.
  • Move to the music while holding one hand.
  • Explore different direction changes while moving.
  • Combine movement, lifts, turns, levels and direction changes.
Table 2
  LO 4.2      

Activity 4

To cool down and stretch properly after dancing

  • It is important for the muscles used during the exercise to be stretched or you will have “stiff” muscles for about three days.
  • Choose music with a slow tempo.

Breathing exercise

  • Stand with your feet a hip-width apart, arms at sides.
  • Lift your arms above your head while inhaling through the nose.
  • Exhaling through your mouth, drop your arms and bend your knees at the same time.

Neck stretch

  • Raise your right arm, put your arm over your head and touch the left side of your head.
  • Slowly pull the head to the right side towards the right shoulder. Drop the left shoulder.
  • Repeat on left side.

Arm stretch

  • Take the right arm across your chest and with the left hand slowly pull the arm towards your body.
  • Repeat with your left arm.

Chest stretch

Take arms straight back and clasp hands behind your back. Open the chest area. Pull arms away from your body.

Back stretch

  • Bring arms straight forwards. Clasp hands and open up shoulder blades. Contract your stomach muscles. Bend your body slightly forwards. Keep knees bent. Pull arms away from your body and drop your head forwards.

Hamstring and calf stretch

Place one foot forwards. Straighten knee of extended leg and bend supporting leg. Lift toes of extended leg keeping the heel on the floor. Slowly bend your body forward from the waist. Keep your back straight. With hand on knees, hold stretch for eight counts.

  • Change legs.

Quadriceps stretch

  • Stand up straight, feet a hip-width apart. Lift one foot backwards, and keeping supporting leg slightly bent, hold and pull foot towards your buttocks with your hand. Extend other arm for balance. Hold stretch for eight counts.
  • Change legs.
  • Shake all moveable parts of the body.
  • Repeat breathing exercise.


Table 3
Learning Outcome(LOs)
LO 4
EXPRESSING AND COMMUNICATINGThe learner will be able to analyse and use multiple forms of communication and expression in Arts and Culture.
Assessment Standards(ASs)
We know this when the learner:
4.5 identifies and explains gender and / or cultural stereotyping in lyrics and in the use of instruments over time and in the present;
4.3 identifies age, gender, class and cultural stereotyping in stories, theatre, film, television or radio over time and in present;4.4 develops a short skit or scenario to highlight problems of stereotyping, discrimination, and prejudice in school or the local community;
4.1 understands and speaks about differently-abled people and inclusivity in dance;4.2 debates the roles traditionally assigned to different genders in dance by recognising and expressing different points of view;
4.6 views and analyses communication within various forms of mass media and identifies obvious or hidden messages, bias, stereotyping or propaganda.



Activity 2


  • Dance is a universal phenomenon. People dance in a great variety of forms in reaction to various influences. Whereas some people dance only for pleasure, it may also be something more important and purposeful; sometimes the dance may have magical, festive or spiritual meanings, or it may be meaningful for social solidarity.
  • The forms of dance differ greatly, but there are two essential elements to any dance: rhythm and movement.
  • The art of dance has its own language - an expressive, communicative language. It is a language without words; aptly called “body language”. The body speaks from birth. One can therefore safely infer that we are all innately equipped with a language that is elevated above words.
  • A dance can be made up of many things: arm movements, rhythm, a word, a phrase, a musical piece, a personal experience, a colour, and a cloud - almost anything. When one choreographs a dance, time must be spent in encouraging creativity and expression. It is important to remember that one cannot learn how to dance by merely studying dance. Dancing is an exciting world of action that can only take proper form if the dancer tries new things, even if he / she makes mistakes in doing so. The most boring surroundings are often the places where the most creative and successful dances are created.

Dance and blindness

Loss of sight does not restrict movement. The body is still capable of moving in a normal manner and the music can be heard.

Hints / Suggestions

  • Music is an important element in, and aspect of this exercise. Play the music throughout the development of the dance.
  • The learners should listen attentively to the music and the instructions.
  • Disciplinary structure (to maintain order in class): Every time the music stops, the learners must stop moving and place their hands over their blindfolded eyes. You can even incorporate this movement into the dance itself - before or after the dance.
  • Encourage creativity.
  • Structure changes in movements thoroughly and with care to keep learners from colliding with one another or tripping.
  • Use methods of repetition, contrast and climax to heighten the sense of autonomy.
  • Elaborate on skills to create overall form - sections, transitions and unity.
  • Pay more attention to the music - the qualities (crescendo / diminuendo - louder and softer, staccato / legato - sharp and detached, and even and continuous) and the rhythmic patterns (accentuated sounds; phrases, metre and tempo).

Dance and people who are deaf or hard of hearing

Loss of hearing does not influence movement of the body. The person can still see, feel and move.

Hints / Suggestions

  • Ensure that all the learners have impaired their hearing by placing earplugs or cotton wool in their ears.
  • Ensure that the beat or pulse of the music is marked enough so as to be physically felt.
  • The educator can even play a drum (or ask someone to play a drum) for this exercise.
  • Encourage creativity.
  • Allow the learners to choose the movements for this dance.
  • Disciplinary structure: Every time the music stops, the learners must cease their movements and place their hands over their ears.

Dance and paraplegics

Movement is limited to the upper part of the body. The head, arms and torso can be moved freely.

Hints / Suggestions:

  • Select appropriate answers in movement to creative problems.
  • Explore and find new and different ways to answer questions.
  • Develop skills by researching ideas for the dance.
  • Develop awareness of the relationship between style and the type of dance and techniques used.
  • Develop skills in the research and planning of dance compositions - select issues like social or environmental problems.
  • Select appropriate content to convey expressive intention - actions, qualities, spatial and relative properties.
  • Stylise the content accordingly and clearly throughout the dances.
  • Use principles of form - motive, development, repetition, variety, contrast, transition, climax and unity - in the rounding off of the dances.
  • Have the learners rehearse in a space that is conducive to the improvement of the dance - demonstrate clarity of purpose.

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