Shape, Gesture, and the Greek Chorus


Students will show their mastery of the viewpoint of gesture and shape by performing a brief exercise in the manner of the Greek chorus.




1. Their bodies
2. Lines from Greek texts


1. exploring communication through shape.
2. Using shape and gesture to access a text with difficult language.



• Slips of paper with lines from Greek choruses – Lesson 8.Greek Play Lines



Warm up/stretch in the cafeteria space to music as we move through the space. Instruct the students that as they move through the space they should not move just in a circle. They should vary whether they go fast or slow, and stretch and move as they go. They should move in straight lines and in curve patterns, go to the corners and the edges as well as the middle. Don’t walk with anyone or next to anyone, this is an individual activity.


STEP 1: Transition/Instruction

Yesterday we explored gestures and body movement; now we are going to explore something called shape. Shape refers to the shape your body makes when you move. A shape does not have to be literal. It can express anything, an idea, a feeling, an emotion or a concrete image. We are going to use shape and explore, using our bodies, how we can show different things.


STEP 2: Individual Practice

Have the students space themselves out in the room at arms distance.
1) Tell the students that they are going to individually create different shapes based on words and images we give them.
2) Remind the students that this is an individual activity, requires no talking and is not the time to be silly. If anyone makes fun of anyone or says something hurtful they will have to sit out on the side and will not be allowed to participate and Ms. Holley will get involved.
3) Have the students close their eyes.
4) Instruct the students that you will say a word and then count to 3. On the count of three the students need to make a shape or strike a pose with their bodies that expresses that word.
a. Be sure to start with more concrete images and as the activity continues become more and more abstract.
b. If time permits allow students to call out words or ideas to express and embody.


STEP 3: Transition

Now we are going to apply what we’ve learned to the Greek chorus. What were some of the things we saw yesterday with the Greek chorus? As we do the next activity, keep those things in mind and think of ideas of how to apply what we just did to the chorus.


STEP 4: Group Practice/Instruction

1) Divide the class in half.
2) Tell the students that this is no longer an individual activity but a group activity. As a group they are going to create a group sculpture. They should build off of each other. They still cannot touch one another, but they should find ways to connect as a group. This does not mean that you should just repeat and imitate other people. Rather you should add onto what the other people do and make it more expressive.
3) Give the students a word or phrase and count down from 5. As you count the students should be moving into the group sculpture focusing on the shape their bodies are making in relation to the group.
4) Do this several times then switch groups.


STEP 5: Transition

Now we are adding the final step: dialogue. You are all going to perform as a Greek chorus.


STEP 6: Instruction/Group Practice

1) Break the class into 4 groups.
2) Assign each group a line from a Greek tragedy. They are now the Greek chorus for that play.
3) As a group they should come up with a series of shapes and gestures that express the line. Each group should prepare to repeat the line and the series of movements 3 times like the chorus.


STEP 7: Modeling

Demonstrate an example of gestures and movements that could be done for one of the unused Greek chorus lines.



Have the students perform their movement sections they have created. Afterwards, discuss the following questions: What was the hardest part about this? Why was it so hard? Do you think that this is something we could do in a play today? Could we maybe adapt this kind of activity to work better for a contemporary play?