The Branches of Government & The Choreographic Process

Author: Kelly Bruce Glynn
Year: 2020
Artform: Dance
Subjects: Social Studies
Grade: 5th Grade
Duration: 1 Session

Students will perform choreography that demonstrates their knowledge of the branches of government.


  • Projector
  • Music selections
  • Drum
  • Paper
  • Pencil

Standards & Objectives

Fine Art Standards
Integrated Standards

Strand: CREATE (5.D.CR.)

Students will conceptualize, generate, develop, and organize artistic ideas and works. They will complete and refine dance works.

Social Studies Standard 3: Objective 1:

Assess the underlying principles of the US Constitution as the framework for the United States’ form of government, a compound constitutional republic.

  • I can use the choreographic process to further my understanding of the branches of government.
  • I can use the elements of dance to inform my choreography.
  • I can create connections between writing, law-making, and choreography.

Teaching and Timeline


Demonstrate and perform a warm up to review the four elements of dance.

This warm up will include isolations of the head, shoulders, wrist, legs, ankles, and torso (body). Students will also explore jumping from a variety of levels (space), moving around the room in different tempos (time), and freezing in a variety of shape qualities (energy).

This opportunity allows students to review the dance knowledge they have gained throughout the year, paired with a proper warm up.


Review the branches of government with the students. The image below serves as a visual aid for those who may struggle with these concepts. Leave this image projected throughout the class for scaffolding.

Work Period

After a brief review, the class will transition into the process of creating. First, we will work as a whole group to complete the steps listed below. Once our whole group instruction has been completed, students will break into groups of 3-5 and repeat the exercise. This gives students the opportunity to work in a multitude of groups, while supporting other students who may need scaffolding. These exercises ask students to create choreography through parameters and boundaries. It is through these limitations that exciting new and creative movement will emerge.

1. Legislative Branch:(DOK 2)

One of the main duties of our legislature is to create laws. Therefore, we will do the same with our choreography. As a class we will make up four choreographic rules. The instructor will devise the first rule, and the students will fill in the rest. Some examples of effective rules are: must be moving through a low level, must be moving at a fast tempo, must be stationary, and must use only direct pathways. Parameters for the rules will be set so that all class members can participate.

During the small group portion of this exercise, students will discuss, create, and agree upon choreographic laws for their small group. It is the responsibility of each group member to create one law.

2. Executive Branch: (DOK 4)

Our executive branch is in charge of vetoing and enacting the laws created by our Legislature. We, as a class, will veto one law by majority vote. This gives students an opportunity to take action and ownership of their choreography and class product. Once a law has been vetoed, we will begin the choreographic process. In order to act as an executive branch, we as a class or small group will create dances that adhere to all the choreographic rules set in place.

During the whole group portion of the class, the teacher will call on 6-10 students to contribute one movement which follows all the rules. Once we have received 6-10 dance moves (the number depends on time), the teacher will blend the movements together, performing one shape at a time to create a class dance. This will serve as an opportunity for students to explore and experience an effective method for developing choreography.

When students break into small groups they will depend on their group members to vote, veto, and co-choreograph new movements which follow their group’s choreographic rules. Each student will be required to submit at least one movement to their group dance.

3. Judicial Branch: (DOK 3)

Our judicial branch decides if the laws are being followed. It is through a showing process that we will work as the judicial system, discussing and analyzing each piece of art.

During the whole group dance, I will ask for student volunteers to perform our dance. The remaining students will move out of the space and act as audience members. The observers will work as the judicial system. After watching or performing the class dance, students will work in dyads to discuss whether the dance accurately followed our choreographic laws. After a class discussion, we will take a final vote to decide whether the dance abides by the laws. If the dance does not pass through our judicial system, it is now our responsibility to revisit our choreography and make edits. We will repeat this process until we meet our goal.

Through the revision process, we will develop connections between our judicial branch with the writing process. We will discuss how the editing process can strengthen our writing, law-making, and art.

When the students are working in small groups, they will present their rules and choreography to the class, one group at a time. Multiple groups may also show at once. In this case, groups will be assigned to watch one another.


After the exercise, students will engage in a whole group discussion about how all choreography is different even when the idea, impetus, or song is the same. Each dance, performance, and choreographer has unique and special qualities that make them original. Students will be asked to think about what makes their choreography unique. Once this discussion has been completed, students will write an artist statement about their group’s choreography using the following sentence frame:

I created a _________________ about ________________. This dance taught me about
_____________________________. I liked _____________________ about my art.
__________________________________ is what made my art original.


Students will perform choreography which adheres to the guidelines created during the legislative portion of this exercise. Based on students’ fidelity to their rules, I will collect data on their understanding of dance elements and choreography. Along with their performance, students will submit an artist statement which describes their works of art using academic and dance vocabulary.


1. How do you collect data?

To gauge student retention and collect data on students’ understanding of basic dance elements, I would ask them to pull a rule from each element of dance while creating their choreographic rules.

2. How can you add to this lesson?

I would help students further understand the boundaries of the rules. Sometimes you may run into rules that are not safe or healthy dance practices. This offers an opportunity to discuss the fairness of laws and provides a chance to discuss social justice and equality for everyone.

3. How can you extend this lesson?

I could allow students to take more time with their choreographic experiences. This would allow them to develop choreography where they can be more creative and take risk in their performance. We can then take this choreography, and use it as an informal performance for parents and teachers.

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