Learning to Love, Loving to Learn

Can You Dance a Painting?

Can You Dance a Painting?
Kathy Kampa-Vilina

Grade Four students create dances based on paintings using elements of art and dance.

If you ask Grade 4 students this question, they’ll be able to describe the many ways to dance a painting. Students have been learning about art elements in their homeroom and visual arts classes. In dance class, students explored ways to interpret those elements.

Where do art elements and dance concepts connect? Paintings have visual lines that can be danced as pathways. Students imagine drawing lines in the air or with their footsteps. Shapes in a painting provide opportunities to create still poses. Students interpret the images as 3-D shapes. Students used dance levels to add interest to their piece as they created movements that are low, middle, or high. Color in the painting can be expressed through a student's energy, such as dancing in a powerful or delicate way. Students used props, such as scarves, streamers, and fans, to add to their dance. They reflected on the deeper meaning in the paintings and music.

As students worked on their dances, they explored what it means to be a thinker. As thinkers, students generate numerous ideas and select the best ones for their choreography.

On November 8th Seisen's Grade 4 students will be performing these pieces for RIJ (Refugees International Japan) concert at St. Mary's International School. Each class has choreographed to one painting. Mr. Lewis' class has been choreographing their dance to a famous Chinese work called "A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains" by Wang Ximeng, (Northern Song Dynasty, 960-1127). It's a landscape painting masterpiece of ancient China. Students also responded to the Chinese song "K'ang Ting."

 Ms. Beswick's class has created choreography to a painting by Mr. Vladmir Tamari entitled "Cherry Blossoms in Kinuta Park." Ms. Hashimoto Uesaka composed a piano composition based on this painting. Students used their personal experiences of o-hanami along with the music and painting to create their dance. 


  • dance
  • Grade 4

More from the Seisen PYP Specialists

As the reality of another week of distance learning and disruption of our regular routines sets in this week, I’d like to focus on keeping it simple and go back to some parenting basics.

Whether in Tokyo or abroad, many of us are under self-quarantine. It is important to be aware of cabin fever syndrome – rooted in the feeling of confinement and isolation for an uncertain period of time.

At this time, we would like to encourage our community to take the time to practice self-care.  We might find this to be a highly stressful and challenging period.  We can help manage our anxiety by acknowledging and discussing our feelings about this situation with loved ones or with myself as the KG/ Elementary counselor who is trained and equipped to deal with stressful situations like this.

Art in the library

It has been great to see the art contributions and hear the important discussions that have taken place and note how this competition has supported learning.