1. Down the mine

The focus of this dance session is Victorian children working underground in coal mines.

1. Down the mine

Children formed an important part of the workforce working underground in coal mines. Their jobs included operating trap doors to control the flow of air through the mine and pulled coal carts. They faced constant danger from explosions, collapsing mine shafts and flooding.


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Teacher's Notes

Lesson summary

Warm up: Sorting out the coal from other rocks. Curling and uncurling the body to bend low and stand up straight; scooping arm movements to pick up and throw away the rocks. Jogging to a new space to repeat the bending, scooping up and throwing away movements.

Sequence 1: Trapper’s story - Solo dance. After hearing a short dramatisation about an 11-year old Trapper boy (Jimmy Turton) working alone in the dark and confined tunnels of the mine, pupils devise and refine a sequence of gestures to show how he may have felt.

In the second part of the dance, pupils perform a strong pulling action as if to open the heavy trap door of the mine. The dance conveys the fear, isolation and boredom of the trappers.

Sequence 2: Underground maze - Solo dance. A travelling sequence using different levels and directions; pupils move through a variety of restricted spaces and sloping tunnels as they explore the mine.

Sequence 3: Escape the flood - Pair work. Travelling through flooding tunnels with a partner. Tension grows as the water level rises and partners explore the quality of moving with resistance, as if through water. Conflict and co-operation as partners decide which way to go before finally escaping to safety.

Cool down: Trudging home. Slow, heavy travelling steps before sinking down onto the floor to relax.

Other units of KS2 Dance Workshop

The reign of King Henry 8th
In the gym

See also...

The Trapper
The Victorians
History - Victorians