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Bodies as Buildings illustration

Bodies as Buildings

Selected dates in Term 1 - 4

Underpinned by Utzon’s Design Principles, this workshop enables students to use the building and its structure to explore similarities in the mechanics of their own bodies. Students will create a series of dance sequences inspired by the architecture of the Sydney Opera House.

In the Centre for Creativity | Sydney Opera House Presents | Schools

Exploring the architecture of the body

Being inspired by nature, and connecting to the human experience, Jorn Utzon watched the wings of a seagull as it took flight as possible windows; how snow and ice, clouds and sand could inspire the colours and textures of a building; and how the actions of builders and engineers who constructed the Opera House could move to and 'perform' the rhythms of the building.

This workshop enables students to learn how to interpret the geometry, engineering, materials and elements of the building to create a series of movements, dance works and choreography with their bodies. Students will consider how architects create buildings for people to inhabit, work, move and explore in urban spaces.

In this workshop, students will:

  • use their imaginations and bodies to create movement and dance sequences, drawing from specific architectural spaces in the Opera House as repositories of physical 'memories'
  • learn how biomechanics from nature can inspire design and architecture
  • explore their own anatomy through movement and create abstract representations from their discoveries
  • develop expressive, formal and sensory qualities to interpret ideas and communicate through dance
  • acquire a deeper appreciation for the design and beauty of the Opera House and feel a physical and personal connection to the site and heritage of the building

Bodies as Buildings is a Creative Learning Workshop developed by Charemaine Seet with the Creative Learning Team at the Sydney Opera House.

Curriculum Links

Each Creative Learning Module is devised to align with the Australian National Curriculum cross-curricular priorities and general capabilities, in particular critical and creative thinking, ethical understanding, intercultural understanding, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Culture priority and Sustainability priorities.

Dance: ACADAM005 - Improvise and structure movement ideas for dance sequences using the elements of dance and choreographic devices eg using contrast and repetition to explore and generate new movement in response to stimuli such as stories, memories and the environment; altering movements in a set, teacher-directed or student-devised dance using the elements of space, time, dynamics and relationships to express ideas, for example, increasing the size of a movement to represent growth.
Dance: ACADAM006 - Practise technical skills safely in fundamental movements eg practising combinations of fundamental locomotor and non-locomotor movements to a range of musical accompaniment; demonstrating safe dance practices, for example, warming up their bodies before executing more complex movement patterns in dance sequences and cooling/calming down afterwards.
Dance: ACADAM007 - Perform dances using expressive skills to communicate ideas, including telling cultural or community stories eg Considering viewpoints – meanings and interpretations: Is there a story in the dance? How are you using grouping or pathways to communicate ideas or intentions in your dance?
Dance: ACADAM009 - Explore movement and choreographic devices using the elements of dance to choreograph dances that communicate meaning eg exploring stimulus or analysing other dances to devise a variety of movement possibilities
Dance: ACADAR012 - Explain how the elements of dance and production elements communicate meaning by comparing dances from different social, cultural and historical contexts, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance eg accessing real or virtual performances that are representative of different times and places and comparing how elements of dance and production elements communicate meaning in each
Health and Physical Education: ACPMP048 - Adopt inclusive practices when participating in physical activities eg using cooperative skills to complete a movement task, such as a partner balance, or team strategy
Health and Physical Education: ACPMP049 - Apply innovative and creative thinking in solving movement challenges eg testing alternative responses to movement challenges and predicting the success or effectiveness of each
Mathematics: ACMMG114 - Describe translations, reflections and rotations of two-dimensional shapes. Identify line and rotational symmetries eg identifying and describing the line and rotational symmetry of a range of two-dimensional shapes, by manually cutting, folding and turning shapes
Mathematics: ACMMG088 - Compare and describe two dimensional shapes that result from combining and splitting common shapes, with and without the use of digital technologies eg identifying common two-dimensional shapes that are part of a composite shape by re-creating it from these shapes; and creating two-dimensional shapes from verbal or written instructions


Program information

These newly developed Creative Learning Modules use the site and building of the Sydney Opera House as a catalyst for learning about science, technology, engineering, arts, architecture and maths - transforming the way we understand STEM subjects and ideas through the creative and performing arts.

The Modules can be delivered alongside a tour of the House exploring First Nations perspectives, the architectural practice of Jorn Utzon and his collaborators, as well as the contemporary uses of the site as a world-class performing arts venue. All Modules include pre- and post-learning activities, as well as a range of video resources designed for students to develop lateral connections with content for deeply embedded learning experiences.

Venue Information

In line with the NSW Public Health Order, venue capacity is currently limited to 75%. This includes all performances in the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Studio, Playhouse, Drama Theatre and Utzon Room. Please note that you may be seated directly alongside other patrons.

Our foyers will be open 60 minutes pre-show for Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and two hours pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances. Refreshments will be available for purchase from our theatre bars. Please remember to maintain physical distancing whilst consuming drinks in our foyers.

All Sydney Opera House foyers are pram accessible, with lifts to the main and western foyers. The public lift to all foyers is accessible from the corridor near the escalators on the Lower Concourse and also in the Western Foyer via the corridor on the Ground Level (at the top of the escalators). Pram parking will be available outside the theatres in the Western Foyer consistent with COVID-safe rules.

Transport options

  • We encourage you to use private transport options to minimise crowding on public transport (in line with NSW Government advice). 
  • The Sydney Opera House Car Park, operated by Wilson Parking, is open and available to use. Wilson Parking offer discounted parking if you book ahead. Please see their website for details.
  • Please check the Transport NSW website for the latest advice and information on travel and COVID-19 safety measures. You can catch public transport (bus, train, ferry) to Circular Quay and enjoy a 6 min walk to the Opera House. 

Frequently Asked Questions - Schools

Frequently Asked Questions - COVID-19 Safety Measures

Frequently Asked Questions - Venue

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