Task 2: Linking Odissi to Local Dance Culture

Dance (Ages 11-14)
Task 2: Linking Odissi to Local Dance Culture
Key Messages
  • Despite local differences, dance is practised in every culture because it responds to fundamental common human needs for creativity and expression.
  • Make links between Miriam’s story and local dance cultures, including their own.
  • Watch and analyse a range of dance styles, developing observation and making comparisons.
  • Associate dance with culture, including their own.
  • Develop analytical skills.


What features contribute to a dance style? Either brainstorm all together, or discuss in pairs and feed back. (Movements, tempo, use of space, formations, levels, dynamics, costume, function etc). Record the categories as headings on the board or sugar paper so that you can add to it in Task 3.


Show the Michael Jackson Black or White video. The unedited original has a long introduction. Just play the song, which starts when you see the lions! Try this version: Michael Jackson - Black Or White (Official Video - Shortened Version)

Ask a range of closed and / or open questions depending on the level(s) of your group. You may want to review relevant sections of the video when you refer to them.


  • What different dance forms are in the Black or White video? (Odissi is amongst them. You may wish to replay the twenty second Odissi excerpt and get students to talk about the distinctive features they observe. Michael Jackson dances with an Odissi dancer in a busy Indian street.) The forms are African Zulu, Thai, Native American, Odissi, Russian, American street dance. You may want to go through the video, listing the forms.
  • Can you describe any of the dance forms in the Black or White video? You may want to refer to the relevant sections in the video.
  • Are there any common features between the different styles?
  • What are the differences between styles?
  • What could the message of the video be? (All cultures include dance. Despite local differences, all people and cultures have commonalities that unite us.)


End the task by referring to the theme, Different Backgrounds, Common Ground How does this relate to what they have been doing this session?

What dance styles reflect the students’ own background and / or environment?


Students can research different dance forms that reflect their own background and / or environment. If your group contains students from different cultural backgrounds, ask them to find out about dance styles from that culture. Students can also look at different styles over time in their own background and / or environment. Names of styles and their major features can be shared at the start of the next session.