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‘Imaginary Dances’
‘Imaginary Dances’
by Rosa Shreeves; Dance Books, 2010.
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Mexicolore’s Aztec-dancers sun logo

Ideas for DANCE...

For several years we’ve only recommended here the BBC resource described below. Now (2013) we’re delighted to flag up a superb resource we’d forgotten about: the section ‘Celebrations’ in a teaching book written nearly twenty years ago by a friend of ours, Rosa Shreeves. Dance artist, teacher and therapist, Rosa joined a Concheros dance group in Mexico and, suitably inspired, included a whole chapter of creative dance ideas based on ancient Mexican dance forms in her book ‘Imaginary Dances’. We include a snippet below, but would encourage you to get hold of a copy. Its whole approach is rooted in ‘the importance of the child’s imaginative life’...

Part of the BBC Dance Workshop teaching notes
Part of the BBC Dance Workshop teaching notes (Click on image to enlarge)

1) As part of the BBC School Radio Dance Workshop programme for Summer 2007, two ‘Aztec’ units were included: Aztec Creation Myth and Aztec Circle Dance.

Whilst the original programme CD from the BBC series is discontinued, the important Notes are still downloadable online, and commercially available music CDs make acceptable alternative soundtracks (see, for instance, our reply to a teacher below).

The resources are designed to support the KS2 PE curriculum
The resources are designed to support the KS2 PE curriculum (Click on image to enlarge)

Aimed at Years 5/6, the first unit of the BBC workshop is based on the popular legend of the creation of maize; the inspiration for the second one is unclear, but, being from the Beeb, they’re worth checking out...

Note! The Teacher’s Notes for these sessions have now been passed to the BBC Notes Archive. Follow the link below and then click on ‘Dance: Dance Workshop Summer 2007’ to download the PDF.

Graphics from Rosa Shreeves’s ‘Imaginary Dances’
Graphics from Rosa Shreeves’s ‘Imaginary Dances’ (Click on image to enlarge)

2) Rosa Shreeves, in her book Imaginary dances (see top left), takes ideas, concepts and forms rooted in Mexican history - circle dances (‘expressions of vitality and celebration’), simple but rhythmical Mexican stepping patterns, acting out in dance form a ‘picture’ of the eagle, cactus and snake, a battle scene between Spanish and Aztecs, forming ‘group mountains’ etc. - and encourages teacher and pupils to explore them imaginatively. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED!

Download the Teacher’s Notes from the BBC
More info on Rosa Shreeve’s work
Extensive website on traditional Mexican dances (in Spanish!)
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Here's what others have said:

Mexicolore replies: We’ve obtained a copy of the Aztec Dances CD. It’s by Xavier Quijas Yxayotl. It provides a useful introductory soundtrack to use in schools attempting to give children an idea of ‘Aztec’ dance. The music is ‘Concheros’ in style (but with no stringed instruments) and the rhythms are atmospheric and appealing. The CD comes with reasonably good notes in English. The music is described as a ‘contemporary expression’ of the ‘living tradition honoring the Aztec’. A competent dance teacher could easily get children stepping and moving to this soundtrack, adapting the tracks to the ideas provided in the BBC notes.
And yes, we have received definitive confirmation from the BBC that their Aztec dance CD is no longer available.
Mexicolore replies: Sadly, Sally, no. We’re trying to find out from the BBC if there’s still a way for teachers to access this material, and will keep you posted...
Mexicolore replies: Many thanks for this helpful feedback, Sally - much appreciated.