Queen Alexandra Gr 6

Arts Education, Health and Career Education, Language Arts, Mathematics, Physical Education, Social Studies


Queen Alexandra Elementary, Vancouver, BC



Jamie Hickman, Rickie Lee, Melanie Moore



Kathryn Ricketts



Grade 6 (two classes)


Sources of Inspiration

Vancouver Biennale Legacy: Walking Figures



With two classes, students, teachers and dance educator, Kathryn Ricketts explored the ups and downs of significant moments in student lives and created stories and poems that illuminate how their past actions affect their present and future. Furthermore, how these actions not only affect them but the community. The class used the three platforms of the walking sculptures installation to represent these three time periods and the students echoed the walking figures moving through the ups and downs of their lives.



Mindful Expression


Guiding Question

Do past actions have an effect on present and the future?


Curriculum Access

Arts Education – Drama, Dance, Visual Arts, Daily Physical Activity, Health and Career, Language Arts, Mathematics, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies


Learning Process

The two combined class at Queen Alexandra created and performed a dance theatre piece based on writings and movements reflecting their personal experience. The creative process was guided by their classroom teachers and the artist collaborator, Kathryn Ricketts. On a field trip to the Walking Figures, students looked at the kind of memories that the artwork triggered in them, the feelings it invoked and what things in life it reminded them of. The discussion evolved into sharing about the past, the present and future. Action today is shared by the past and can and will affect the future. The students utilized the three platforms that the sculpture are situated on as representations of the three stages in life. The performers moved back and forth between the platforms showing how stories weave together.


Student Creations

Creative Writing, Public Dance Performance




Teachers participated at the Vancouver Biennale Sharing BIG IDEAS Workshop



  • Project meetings to identify the site, the parameters and the mission and the philosophy of the Vancouver Biennale BIG IDEAS program
  • Establish goals of the school, teachers and learning objectives


  • Introduced to the Vancouver Biennale and the BIG IDEAS education program
  • Explored the Vancouver Biennale art exhibition and BIG IDEAS online learning resources
  • Looked at images of the artist’s past works, the sculpture, the site and brainstormed some key words to ‘essentialize’ each image and talk about dance/theatre as a form
  • Worked with the class to create a series of systems for memory banking: to help to identify groupings and spatial delineations within the site
  • Began to develop some base movement vocabulary through image and words.
  • Began to work on ‘trans-mediating’ from image to movement and creating a collectively generated ‘palate of ideas’
  • Wrote about the sculpture and past works of the artist drawing out the students’ past life experiences.


  • Created imaginatively within a structured framework.
  • Began to work with cause and effect creating material that was reflective of some of their writing
  • Worked with the students to provoke conversations around how our behavior affects many and will affect what happens to us in the future, such as the idea of a high five from one class and one against many from the other class. Drew personal stories that were evoked from both situations.
  • Created sections with some of the warm up vocabulary in their groups. The vocabulary was based on material the students generated in previous session: Astronaut, Sprinting, Who is There?, Pivot
  • Wrote about their past highs and lows in life
  • Shown how to use warm up material and then carry it over to the choreography by practicing some of the movements that they would be using in the Grand Finale. The students worked with an inner and outer wheel that each formed different parts for the finale but ended at the same time.
  • Worked with juxtapositioning an A phrase with a B phrase and then coming together in unison
  • Practiced to ‘essentialize’ text by circling words and exporting them to another paper and then playing with the order until a poem is made. Students created hanging poems from their writing from previous week. The poems were then used to create the last section of the performance.
  • Completed the hanging poem assignment
  • Learnt about the kind of focus that is needed when doing site specific work and public performance – how to make the people on the street ‘put their grocery bags down’
  • Reviewed the hanging poem with the artist and rehearse the dance performance including the grand finale movement
  • Worked with students to review performance materials. Rehearsed on-site
  • Prepared for the final performance: spoke about ‘turning up the volume’ in their bodies by using more levels and generally taking up more space. Talked about no fidgeting and being very still when the audience should be looking at another group and to be very clear when cuing others and to not talk or run during the performance.
  • Rehearsed three times and during the last practice, they performed the entire piece on their own without cuing
  • Teachers worked with students to build their confidence


Artist and Biennale staff presented to school staff about the learning process and the BIG IDEAS program




“We have students here who are shy, we have students here who do not like to move, and we have students here who do not want to be in the spotlight. And when you have the opportunity to perform in the public and in front of others, along with other schools, it gives them the feeling of accomplishment, it gives the feeling that I can do this, I thought I was not able to do it before and I did it. And therefore I can and I will in the future.” – Teacher, Rickie Lee



“It was a true honour to be part of such a wonderful group of teachers and administration as this school clearly faces challenges and yet seems to be bursting at the seams with care and compassion for the students.

It was also a treat to work with Katherine Tong who always demonstrated intense commitment to the project with diligence and passion for following all the details.

The students constantly surprised me with their abilities to comprehend the depth of our concepts even when the residency was brief and were consistent in their valuable contributions.”



“I thought the Walking Figures was like a symbol in life how people are moving too fast through life and how we are lost through our way.” – Kim

“Some people were walking by know that sometimes you have to take your time and not go too fast or too slow in life. If you go too fast, you will make mistakes. If you go too slowly, you may not get the opportunities and miss chances.”– Kee

“At first I was afraid to express my feelings; I learnt that it is ok to just be you.” – Michelle