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The Macbeth Tango

Teachers' Rating:
  12 ratings

Georg Goldberg after Valentine Walter Bromley. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Engraving, 19th century

November 2000
Phyllis Fields, South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics, Hartsville, South Carolina.

Plays/Scenes Covered
Macbeth 1.5, 1.7, 2.2, 3.2, 3.4
What's On for Today and Why

In an effort to understand the strong personalities of the two main characters, the students will examine how Macbeth and Lady Macbeth relate to each other in individual scenes and throughout the play. By taking elements of that relationship and making them physical, students will analyze the Macbeths' marriage on many different levels.


This lesson can be completed in one 75-minute class period.

What You Need

Folger edition of Macbeth (Specifically, 1.5, 1.7, 2.2, 3.2, 3.4)
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts

Several CD's or cassettes with different kinds of dance music, i.e. Latin dances, swing, etc.


a CD or cassette player

Macbeth Tango Handout
What To Do

1. Assign each student a partner. If you have an extra student, the teacher should work with that person, but only as performer—not as director.


2. Download and print the handout of five scenes that highlight the Macbeths' interaction throughout the play. Give each team one of the scenes to work through. Don't worry if two or more teams end up working on the same scene. Ask each team to read and discuss the scene and paraphrase the lines so that the students aren't initially tied to the text.


3. Have the students prepare the scene as a dance. Each choreographed movement should reflect the characters' relationship in the scene. It might be helpful to have a CD or tape player and several CDs or cassettes with music appropriate for different kinds of dance: square dance, Latin dances, swing, slow dancing, etc. However, caution the students not to worry about keeping time or choreographing dance steps to the music. The music should only be used to enhance the performance, not to distract from it.


4. Perform the dances for each scene in the order that they appear in the play. As each team dances, the rest of the class acts as the audience. Encourage the students to critique the work to see if the type or style of dance or specific movements accentuate the dramatic moment in the scene.


5. After all of the pairs have danced, have each team go back to the text and perform the scene again using the original language.

How Did It Go?
Were students able to demonstrate Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's relationship through their movements? Did the tone of each scene come across in the dance? Did the students' movements suggest any subtext? When the scenes were performed in order, did the dancing reflect the increasing urgency of the situation or changes in the marriage; for example, did the dancing become more active as they moved from 1.4 to 3.4? Were the dances effective in physicalizing the psychology or motivations of the characters?

If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

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  Common Core State Standards

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