About these activities

These activities are inspired by the theme of the exploration of history. 

They explore movement and dance.

They can be used

  • as stand alone activities or
  • as follow up to an ‘Ordsall Alive’ session at Ordsall Hall [link to follow]. 

There are Dancing the Past to Life resources on other themes:  View all the Dancing the Past to Life resources.


Starter Activity - Focus

The class stands in a circle and takes part in a focus activity such as passing a clap or passing a movement around the circle in canon. This promotes good team work and concentration and focuses the children before starting the rest of the session. See Dancing the Past to Life clip 1 for some ideas

Starter activity - Warm Up

Standing in a circle the class follow the teacher in a warm up to music which mobilises the body and increases the heart rate. The warm up could incorporate movements that start to introduce the theme before basic stretches for the hamstrings, quadriceps (thighs) and calves are carried out. See Dancing the Past to Life Clip 2 for some ideas.  

Plenary activity - Servant Motif Development


To create actions to show the jobs that the servants would have done preparing for a Tudor banquet

To explore motif development to make these actions more interesting


Ask the children to find their own space in the room. Children then explore their personal space considering the size, level, direction and dynamics of shapes and movement. See Dancing the Past to Life clip 3 for spatial work ideas. 

Discuss the jobs that the servants (Poultry Maids, Chefs and Scullions) would have done in the Tudor kitchen.  

Explore motif development creating actions to show jobs that the servants would have done preparing for the Tudor banquet. Motif development is where you take a movement (e.g. mixing) and show this action with, for example, your hands/arms and then explore changing the movement to make it look more interesting by changing size, body part, levels, direction, dynamics (speeds and qualities). Lead the children in an exploration by giving them examples for mixing, chopping, brushing etc. Download the Servant motif Development Prompt Sheet to help with this.

Set the children the task to create a solo based on the jobs/actions explored above. Ask them to select the most interesting variations and link a few together. See Dancing the Past to Life clip 15 for spatial work ideas.

Finally share and appreciate the servant’s solos and then discuss the success criteria:

  • To choose some of the actions from the servant’s jobs and make them more interesting through motif development.

Plenary activity - Create a Formal Tudor Dance


Learn some traditional Tudor dance steps.

Create a repeating travelling dance pattern based on the traditional Tudor dance pattern.


Learn some traditional Tudor dance steps using Dancing the Past to Life clips 9 and 10 

Using the traditional Tudor dance pattern (see below) ask the children to create their own repeating travelling pattern working in unison with a partner. 

Play a game imagining they are at Henry VIII’s banquet and perform the traditional walking pattern when the teacher indicates that the King is awake and perform the children’s own creation when he has fallen into a drunken sleep.  See Dancing the Past to Life clip 11 

The Tudor walking pattern to be adapted is:

  1. Standing side by side with the partner and holding the inside hand up, walk forwards one step with the right foot and then put feet together to pause briefly
  2. Walk forwards one step with the left foot and pause
  3. Walk forward quicker with right foot first, then left and right,  put feet together and pause

The pattern is slow stop, slow stop, quick, quick, quick, stop. Repeat the pattern travelling backwards. See Dancing the Past to Life clip 11 

Plenary activity - Create a Servants Group Dance


To create group dances inspired by the roles of the Tudor servants (Scullions, Chefs and Poultry Maids)


If you have already used the activity Servant Motif Development and created servant motifs recap them and the idea of motif development to make the actions more interesting.

Put the children into groups (3 – 5 children) and give each group a role (scullions, chefs and poultry maids) and set them the task of creating group dances to show that group’s role. Provide them with actions that those servants would have performed – see Servant motif Development Prompt Sheet. Encourage good use of actions, space and dynamics and with regard to relationships get the children to work hard to consider use of space and over, under and around each other, changing of formations, use of canon and unison. 

Watch some of the group’s ‘work in progress’ as a whole class and offer feedback to challenge the groups and give them development points.

Ask the children to continue to work on the group dances taking into considering the development points.

See Dancing the Past to Life clip 12 for examples of Tudor servants’ group dances. 

About the Dancing the Past to Life project

Ordsall Hall closed its doors in 2009 for a major restoration and development project, and after two years ‘under wraps’ the Hall re-opened to the public on Sunday 15th May 2011.

On Friday 18th March 2011 school children from across Salford proudly presented ‘Dancing the Past to Life’, a dance work created to celebrate the re-opening of the Hall.

The Heritage Lottery Fund funded the project.   It involved six schools working with dance artist Rachel Towe during the spring term.  The aim was to create a dance inspired by the stories, artefacts and events that Ordsall Hall has been connected with through its history.

Each school created a dance of approximately 5 minutes in length based on their theme and the final show saw all the dances come together as one performance.

These activities can be used to explore movement and dance inspired by the themes of the exploration of history

  • the Tudors
  • Guy Fawkes
  • the Second World War
  • and Ordsall Hall today.