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The Orchestra Rocks with Movement

Aim: What is the role of movement and dance in music that rocks?
Summary: Students discover dance forms associated with three pieces of repertoire from different eras. They also explore Orff’s “O Fortuna” through the Orff approach, discovering how to use movement to interpret and embody the music.
Standards: National 1, 2, 6; NYC 1, 3, 5
Vocabulary: ballet
Additional Materials: scarves, or other props for movement

Explore Movement in Music that Rocks

Music that rocks is directly connected to movement. Some of that movement is dance, such as the folk dance associated with “La Follia,” the rock and roll dancing linked to “Johnny B. Goode,” and The Rite of Spring ballet. Music that rocks can also motivate both performers and audiences to respond physically, moving their bodies in time to the driving beat—for example, Link Up–commissioned composer Earl Maneein and his string quartet SEVEN)SUNS give an athletic performance in one of the video selections below.

  • Using the videos below, you and your students can watch and discuss examples of the movements associated with different repertoire selections.
    • Are the movements planned or improvised? How do you know?
    • What kind of movement do you prefer to watch and why?
    • Does viewing movement of any kind impact your listening experience of the music? Why or why not?
  • Observe how the musicians move in any of the video selections.
    • Do you think moving helps them perform? Why or why not?
  • Invite students to play or sing a piece from The Orchestra Rocks and experiment with added movement.
    • Does moving change your experience of performing?
The Rite of Spring performed by the Joffrey Ballet

Learn the Hand Jive and Duck Walk for Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”

Hand jive was one of many dance styles that was popular in the early days of rock and roll. It is said to have originated at concerts that were so crowded there was no room for dancing, so the audience danced with their hands! The duck walk was popularized by Berry and became a signature move during his performances.

“Johnny B. Goode”: Hand Jive and Duck Walk Choreography Instruction

This video features Whitney McIntosh Joseph teaching easy-to-follow steps to dance along to Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.”

Use the Orff Technique to Explore Orff’s Lyrics and Music in “O Fortuna”

  • Invite students to explore the English translation of the text from “O Fortuna.” 
    • What does it mean for fortune to wax and wane like the moon?
    • What is an example of someone’s fortune changing?
    • What kind of emotion do you think this text is supposed to evoke in the reader?
  • Discuss examples of changing fortune and explore creative movement to evoke the emotions that may come about from these stories.
    • If your fortune changed for the better, what kind of emotion would you feel?
    • If your fortune changed for the worse, what kind of emotion would you feel?
    •  How could you show these feelings through movement?
  • Invite students to explore a variety of movement and postures:
    • Do you want to stay in place or move in space? Do you want to use small movements or large movements?
    • Do you want to change the shape of your body?
    • How can you show this emotion differently by working with a partner or group to make shapes or formations?
  • Use scarves and other classroom materials to enhance the movement.
  • Using Track 20, perform these movements while listening to “O Fortuna.”

Carl Orff and the Orff Approach

Carl Orff was a German composer, conductor, and music educator who created the Orff Approach to elementary music. Orff defined the ideal musical experience for children as “never music alone, but music connected with movement, dance, and speech.” Emphasis is given to active music making and providing opportunities for students to create their own text, movement, and musical settings. One of the most important components of the Orff Approach is that it is a community experience and, like in an orchestra, every voice contributes. To learn more about the Orff Approach, check out Discovering Orff by Jane Frazee (ISBN-13: 978-0-930448-99-8).

Go Deeper

Create movements that respond to the musical elements in “O Fortuna,” including:
  • Rhythmic phrases found in both the ostinato and the melody
  • Dynamics
  • Form (contrasting the introduction, the body of the piece, and the momentous ending)

Related Concert Repertoire

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