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An exploration of the Ballet by Igor Stravinsky
Meets the learning standards for grades 4-5 (can be adapted)  
Media Type:  continuous line drawing and wire work 
Subject Integration: Fine Arts (Visual, Music, Theatre), English Language Arts 
Formal Lesson Plan and TEKS information (coming soon)

Materials: writing materials, color pencils/crayons/markers, bendable brass wire, metallic gold or red beads (optional)

This lesson provides 10 new vocabulary words: 

  • Continuity
  • Emphasis
  • Fluidity
  • Balance
  • Melody
  • Dynamic
  • Articulation (music)
  • Personification
  • Simile
  • Metaphor

Focus Question: How do the music and dance of Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird inspire us to create continuous line drawings?

Opening:

Listen to some of the music from Stravinsky’s Firebird as background music in the classroom while you are settling down and preparing for your lesson. Here is a Spotify playlist.  

Discuss examples of fairytales, folktales, and legends in literature. Identify commonalities such as personification and metaphor.

Activity 1:  

Read this synopsis of the Firebird story. given by the American Ballet Theatre

Now imagine an orchestra using their instruments to convey the story. What articulation and instruments could be used to portray the characters? How can melody be used for emphasis?

Activity 2:

Discuss the terms Continuity and Fluidity.

Choose two colors of crayon/marker/pen/pencil: one that represents the Firebird and one that represents the prince.

While watching THIS (https://youtu.be/EC6MmmLKEmA) video performance, let your piece of paper represent a ballet stage and use the two colors of marker to draw the paths and movements of the Firebird and Prince. (* Tip: The Firebird begins the dance by herself. The prince joins later.) Do not to lift the markers off the page. These will be continuous line drawings representing the patterns, themes, repetition, balance, and dynamics of the dance.

Once the video of the performance has ended, compare your drawing to your peers’ drawings.

Compose three different sentences with your observations about the music, the dance, and the continuous line drawing: One sentence should use a metaphor, one sentence should use a simile, and one sentence will use personification.

Activity 3:

Time to practice our cursive and create a keepsake to emphasize the continuity and fluidity of the ballet!

Write the word “Firebird” on a blank piece of paper as a continuous line with letters between 1 and 2 inches tall.

How you resolve issues with crossing the “F” and dotting the “i’s?” 

Recreate the word Firebird with soft wire. Using your hands and available tools, bend the wire into shape (remembering to refer to the paper template.)

You may choose to use a bead or another found object to dot the “i’s”.

What did you learn? How else can we explore this art form? Discuss!

Activity 4:

Have you heard of the ballet dancer, Misty Copeland? Misty’s first role as Principal Ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre was in 2012 as the Firebird. This role inspired her to author the book, Firebird, which reflects her experience and encourages young people to follow their dreams. Check out this video of Misty reading her book:

How can YOU encourage and support someone who is feeling discouraged? Practice!

Review of Vocabulary for this Lesson:

Continuity – the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time.

Fluidity – 1. the ability of a substance to flow easily 2. the quality of being smooth and continuous

Balance – an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.

Emphasis – special importance, value, or prominence given to something.

Melody – a sequence of single notes that is musically satisfying.

Dynamic – (of a process or system) characterized by constant change, activity, or progress

Articulation (music) – the way in which a specific note or group of notes should be performed beyond the basics of pitch, duration and dynamic. In many ways, articulations are like musical punctuation.

Personification – the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.

Simile – a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid

Metaphor – a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

Extending the lesson:

Did you know that the artist Pablo Picasso was considered a master of continuous-line drawings? Check out the Art Republic article for more ideas about how this drawing method can be used! https://artrepublic.com/blogs/news/281-the-line-drawings-of-pablo-picasso-html