Cultural Dance Research Assignment Guidelines

Lesson Plan

Dance: Dance Around the World

Grade span:6 to 8
Duration:Four 45-minute sessions
This lesson was excerpted from the Afterschool Training Toolkit under the promising practice: Making Connections to History and Culture


This lesson is one example of how you can implement the practice of Making Connections to History and Culture. In this activity, students work in small groups to research and make presentations on folk dances from different cultures and time periods.

Learning Goals:

  • Understand how dance is used to express culture and history
  • Understand how dance is used to communicate stories, moods, and feelings
  • Work together to research the anthropology of a particular folk dance and to create a presentation about it


  • Internet access
  • Library access or books about dance from different cultures and time periods
  • CD/tape player (optional)
  • Audio/visual equipment (optional)
  • Materials to create props/scenery/costumes for presentations (optional)


  • Generate a list of various folk dances from different cultures and time periods. You should have one folk dance for each small group of students. Write or print the name of each dance on a small slip of paper. Fold the papers and place them in a bowl for students to draw from. Examples include:
    • Bhangra
    • Polka
    • El Jarabe Tapatio
    • Contra dance
    • Cotton-Eyed Joe
    • Salp'uri
    • Ribbon dance
    • Adzohu
    • Irish jig
    • Troika
  • Select a folk dance. Be prepared to tell students a few basic interesting facts about the dance and the people who perform it.
  • Generate a "Folk Dance Research Guide." Include the following questions for students to answer about their folk dance:
    1. What does this dance look like? (include movements and costume)
    2. What music traditionally accompanies this dance?
    3. What culture and people traditionally perform this dance? Why?
    4. When was this dance developed?
    5. What was occurring in this place and culture during that time period?
    6. Does this dance tell a story? If so, what?
    7. What else about the history and/or culture does this dance express?

What to Do:

Session 1
  • Provide a brief introduction to folk dances and explain how they connect to different cultures and time periods. For example, choose one or two dances that students will not be researching. Show them a book or video that demonstrates the dance, or play the music that accompanies the dance. Include details from the Folk Dance Research Guide to model the kind of information that students will present.
  • Divide students into small groups. Ask a representative from each group to come forward and choose a dance (written on folded paper and put in a bowl).
  • Explain that each group will research one dance, using the Internet and books to find information and answer the questions in the Folk Dance Research Guide.
  • Provide students with the Folk Dance Research Guide questions and answer any questions they may have about researching their dance.
Session 2
  • Ask students to use this session to do research as a group on their dance.
  • Circulate among student groups to check in, see how students are doing, and answer any questions. Make sure that each person in the small group has a role. For example, one person might search the Internet, another person can explore books, and another person can record facts. By the end of this session, students should have answered the Folk Dance Research Guide questions.
Session 3
  • Ask the groups to create a presentation using what they have learned about their dance. Each group can perform the dance, show the dance on a video, play the music that accompanies the dance, or draw or act out what was happening in history that may have inspired the dance. All presentations should provide the historical and cultural context for the dance and answer the questions in the Folk Dance Research Guide.
  • Each student should have a role in the final presentation.
Session 4
  • Ask the groups to present their dance, including what they have learned about the dance and the history and culture it represents. Each student should have a role in the final presentation.
  • Allow time for questions and answers. Encourage other students to ask questions of presenting groups.

Evaluate (Outcomes to look for):

  • Student participation and engagement
  • An increased understanding and appreciation of different cultures
  • An increased understanding of how dance expresses history, tells a story, and expresses moods and feelings
  • Students' working together to research and prepare presentations

Click this link to see additional learning goals, grade-level benchmarks, and standards covered in this lesson.

Online Training for Afterschool Staff

The Afterschool Training Toolkit is available online free of charge.

The following resources can be used with the online Afterschool Training Toolkit to give you the resources you need to build fun, innovative, and academically enriching afterschool activities.

Creative Research Project Guidelines

Subject Areas   

Students may submit a paper on any topic, provided that the student has worked with a faculty mentor from SUNY Orange throughout the course of completing that research paper, poster, or project.

Note:  If a student has completed research with a mentor from another institution through a program sponsored by SUNY Orange, please contact Michele Iannuzzi Sucich (at michele.iannuzzisucich@ to determine if that research is eligible for presentation at the SOARS Conference.


The methods and tools of research/analysis will vary from discipline to discipline. For example, field work might be part of an anthropology presentation while lab reports might be featured in a scientific or technical paper. All submissions must show the results of research, reflection, and an original perspective. Students should work closely with their mentors early on to determine the appropriate nature and scope of their research.


Students’ work will be evaluated on the quality and originality of the research, as well as on the written submission. Mentors will receive feedback on the written component of the submission from faculty readers by mid-February. Students, in collaboration with their mentors, then have the option of making revisions to their written work before presenting it at the conference in mid-March. This deadline for feedback also will allow students interested in submitting a written paper to the regional Beacon Conference to use this feedback in preparation of their written work for the Beacon annual submission deadline in March.

Guidelines for Research:

  • Research must include reputable, academic sources.
  • As with any research project, you are responsible for evaluating source material and ensuring the selection of credible sources. For example, Wikipedia is not considered a credible source because anyone can provide information to that website.
  • In general, follow the guidelines of the particular discipline in terms of the expectations for scholarly research
    (i.e., for the sciences, peer-reviewed primary sources from scholarly journals).
  • The method of documentation should be whatever is appropriate to the discipline (i.e., MLA for the Humanities, APA for the Social Sciences, CMS for History)

Length of Presentation

For creative research projects that involve a performance (example: dance or song), the performance should be limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.

Submission Requirements

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Students wishing to present a project may submit EITHER a 200-300 word abstract OR a paper.

(If submitting a poem, see guidelines below)

If Submitting anABSTRACT, include:

  1. A title page
  2. A 200-300 word abstract describing:
    • a statement of purpose (thesis)
    • a description of the work (the project you will present)
    • the nature of the presentation (oral presentation, model or artwork for display, dance, song, etc.)
  3. a list of the outside source material used (work cited page, reference list, or bibliography)

If Submitting aPAPER,follow these guidelines: 

  1. A title page
  2. Minimum 3 double-spaced pages of text
  3. The method of documentation should be whatever is appropriate to the discipline (i.e., MLA for the Humanities, APA for the Social Sciences, CMS for History)

If Submitting a POEM, follow these guidelines:

  1. Describe the work and the research that inspired it
  2. Provide a reference list

    "This poem represents the voices of three writers and their committment to the struggle for equal rights for women in the 19th century. The poem was inspired by research about the lives of these writers as well as selected works."

    ... And then the poet would give a list of references consulted.

See details about the format of the abstract or the paper below.

Note: Students presenting a creative research project at the SOARS Conference are required to submit their title page, abstract, and list of source material by the December submission deadline. The project or performance resulting from that work is NOT due in December. The project should be completed in conjunction with a faculty mentor prior to March 1st. On March 1st the Undergraduate Research Task Force will follow-up with mentors to verify that projects are complete and satisfactory for presentation.

Format of Written Submission

  • The abstract or paper must be typed (Times New Roman font size 11 or 12 or Calibri font size 11, double-spaced), with left-hand margin of 1” and at least 1” top, bottom, and right.
  • The title page must include:
    • student’s name, home address, e-mail address, and phone number
    • title of paper
    • title of course for which the paper was written or project was created, or a statement that the work was done independent of a course

Submission Process

  • Each paper, brief, project, or poster must be submitted electronically to Michele Iannuzzi Sucich at
  • Each individual submitting to the conference must complete the submission form found on the SOARS web site.
  • An e-mail from the faculty mentor must be sent verifying approval of the submission.

Submission Deadline: Please see the Dates to Remember Page for the current submission deadline.


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