• Grades 3-5
  • Dance
  • Theater
  • English & Literature

Storytelling Through Dance
How can you physically and emotionally express a story through dance and pantomime?

In this grade 3-5 lesson, students will emotionally and physically tell a story through dance and pantomime. They will learn that in ballet, the dancer is trained to act out the story/character with movement instead of words. The Nutcracker will serve as the foundation for the lesson and activities.

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Lesson Content

Learning Objectives 

Students will:

  • Communicatie through physical movement (pantomime).
  • Synthesize key details from The Nutcracker originally by E. T. A. Hoffman.
  • Describe how a story may be told through dance and pantomime.
  • Examine how ballet is a means of expression and storytelling.
  • Write an explanatory text conveying the meaning of pantomime movement. 


Standards Alignment

Recommended Materials

The Nutcracker book, Kansas City Ballet: The Nutcracker, The Nutcracker Story, Act 1 Marche Scene, The Nutcracker Party Scene 1, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, Music Clips from Tchaikovsky’s - The Nutcracker


Teacher Background

Teachers should familiarize themselves with the story of The Nutcracker and information on creating characters. Review the following resources: American Ballet Theatre: Ballet Archives, Great Performances: PBS Arts: Dance, American Ballet Theatre: Ballet Dictionary.

Book Recommendations: 

Hayward, Linda. A Day in the Life of a Dancer. London: Dorling Kindersley, 2001.

Pytor Illych Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker - Complete Ballet ~ Valery Gergiev (Composer), Kirov Orchestra and Choir (Conductor)


Student Prerequisites 

Students should have some familiarity with the story of The Nutcracker or other stories told through dance.


Accessibility Accommodations 

Modify handouts and give preferential seating for visual presentations. Allow extra time for task completion.

  • Adaptation

    Jen Westmoreland Bouchard

  • Original Writer

    Stacy Elise Stevenson

  • Editor

    JoDee Scissors

  • Updated

    February 6, 2020

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Article Shall We Dance?

5 easy ways to use dance and movement in your classroom.

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