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Dance - Introduction PDF Print E-mail


Dance is an integral aspect of a balanced physical education programme. It is unique in that its primary concern is with the expressive quality of movement and with the enjoyment and appreciation of aesthetic and artistic movement qualities.

Throughout our history dance has served many different purposes all of which are evident today. Dance is perceived as a :

  • physical activity
  • popular entertainment
  • form of religious worship
  • profession
  • an art form
  • social and recreational outlet.

There are many styles of dance, - ballet, tap, jazz, folk, contemporary, ballroom, etc.

The idea that dance is an activity suited to girls and inappropriate for boys should be challenged. Strategies are needed to combat prejudice which is visible and pervasive. Positive attitudes to dance should be demonstrated by male members of staff, particularly male Physical Education staff. Content should be designed to challenge boys and girls. Lessons should be planned to ensure that all students have opportunities to achieve. Teachers need to consider whether dance should be taught to boys and girls in mixed or single sex classes.

Dance has a particular contribution to make to students with special educational needs. It provides an alternative language and a route for learning about themselves, others and the world about them.

The suitability and modification of activities within dance education should be considered carefully to ensure that effective learning takes place.


Why Dance?

The dance syllabus makes a distinctive contribution to the education of all students in that it provides the potential to integrate physical, emotional and intellectual development. It enables the students to express themselves and to communicate with others in a social and cultural context. Through dance students learn how to:

  • use their bodies skilfully and creatively
  • develop their creativity and imagination
  • use expressive movement as a means of communication
  • encourage an awareness of others and sensitivity towards them
  • analyse form and quality in movement
  • derive aesthetic understanding through the creation of dance and the appreciation of dance works
  • extend their musical education
  • stimulate and heighten work in other areas of the curriculum.

Dance can inform and illuminate other areas of the curriculum such as Music, Drama, Visual Art, Film, Literature and can interact with natural and built environments. Cross-curricular links can be made with subjects such as Geography, Mathematics, S. P. H. E. (Social, Personal and Health Education), Information Technology (I. T.), English and other languages.


Overall Aims & Objectives


To provide a context for aesthetic and artistic experience and the opportunity to develop personally and physically through participation in dance in an enjoyable environment.


  • To develop skillful, creative mastery of the body in a dance context.
  • To enhance knowledge and understanding of dance as an aesthetic and artistic experience.
  • To enrich personal and social development while interacting with others in a variety of structured contexts.



As with any physical education lesson a dance class has three main sections




The dance lesson will:

  • emphasise good body placement and alignment at all times
  • begin with simple large muscle group movements and gradually build to more complex work
  • always have a definite beginning and ending position
  • be exact on directions, cues, counts and tempo
  • work both sides of body equally, avoid beginning on the same side each time
  • include repetition which is important for the development of movement memory
  • emphasise continuous movement, not a series of static poses.

The lesson introduction

Before the lesson begins, the students may be told:

  • what they are going to do
  • why they are going to do it
  • how this builds on what they've done before.

The Warm Up

Every lesson must start with a warm up which consists of (i) physiological and (ii) psychological elements. The choice of specific activities for the warm up should be made bearing in mind the dance content which is to follow, the physical condition and age of the group and the working space.

Physiological elements

  • Activities which raise the body temperature/pulse.
  • Activities which mobilise the joints.
  • Activities which gently stretch the muscles.

Psychological elements

  • Provide the teacher with the opportunity to access the general mood of the group and to get the group in the mood for dance.
  • Help the group to become comfortable with the space and to use it wisely.

Main theme/activity and development

The teacher chooses movement tasks which relate to the main theme of each lesson e.g. in unit 1. (Creative Dance), the movement aim is concerned with the Basic Body Actions and the movement tasks include skipping, balance, stretch and sink whilst in unit 1 (Folk Dance), the concern is with rhythmic structures and the movement tasks are focused on the basic gallop step.

The Cool Down

After strenuous activity the muscles and cardiovascular system need to return to normal. Students should continue a slow activity until their breathing and heart rate are normal. During this time, students and teachers can reflect on the lesson of the day and on what has been learned



The structure of the Dance lesson

The educational significance of dance on the curriculum is determined by its potential to involve the student in:



movement in aesthetic and artistic contexts.


If a stimulus is to be used, it should be considered as a starting point to encourage a dialogue between teacher and students. Careful selection is necessary to ensure that the stimulus heightens movement awareness, does not become restrictive and does not dominate the dance class.


Unit 1 - Word charts
Unit 2 - The skeleton
Unit 3 - Circulation - The blood
Unit 4 - Volcano
Unit 5 - Hieroglyphics
Unit 6 - Sculptures


Movement ideas/themes refer to the materials to be explored and developed. When considering selection of material for the dance lesson, the movement ideas are of primary importance.


Unit 1 - Developing an awareness of basic body actions
Unit 2 - An awareness of body joints
Unit 3 - An awareness of body surfaces (body); An awareness of shape (space); An awareness of time (dynamics)
Unit 4 - An awareness of body actions with body parts leading; An awareness of weight transference
Unit 5 - An awareness of shape in space; An awareness of levels and directions in space.
Unit 6 - An awareness of body shape; An awareness of body action.

When planning these exemplar lessons attention may be given to some of the following elements.


The styles/types of Creative Dance may be; abstract, comic dramatic, lyrical etc.


Unit 1 - Abstract
Unit 2 - Dramatic or Comic
Unit 3 - Lyrical
Unit 4 - Dramatic
Unit 5 - Abstract
Unit 6 - Abstract Exploration, Experimentation and Improvisation

To improvise is to compose without preparation or forethought or on the spot, without being directed. The students move in ways that they believe best tell their feelings or story.Improvisation can also result from listening to the music and reacting from within.

  • The warm up Select a warm up which is appropriate to the movement theme of the lesson and presented in a dance context with rhythm and phrasing.
  • Development The teacher should choose movement tasks which involve creating, performing and appreciating. These tasks must be linked to the idea/theme of the lesson and a directed or guided discovery method may be used by the teacher.
  • Select and refine movement When students have explored the theme they should be encouraged to select, clarify and refine their movements by making them clearer and sharper with a clear beginning, middle and end.

Further development

These initial movement phrases from Units 1 - 6 may be further developed by selecting from the following:


Repeat the same phrase using the same body parts twice or maybe three times. Change the body part used to make the action e.g. use an elbow instead of head. Add one or more body actions into the phrase e.g. turn, gesture, jump etc. Stillness should be added appropriately.


Make the phrase bigger or smaller . Change the direction of the phrase. Using general space add a travel to the phrase following a different floor pattern. Change the level of the phrase.


Repeat the phrase using the same dynamics. Change the flow - bound - free. Change the speed - slow - quick. Change the power - strong - light.


Repeat the actions in the phrase in the same order. Change the order of the actions in the phrases. Reverse the order of the actions in the phrases. Perform the phrase as solo or with others.

If working in 2's some of the following formations can be used:

Side by side
One behind the other
Back to back
Side by side, facing opposite directions
Diagonally spaced, facing the same direction
Diagonally spaced, facing opposite directions.

If working in-groups some of the following formations can be used:

Circle facing outwards
Circle facing inwards
Lines facing the same way
Arrowhead Line (following a leader)
Clump Scattered.


Stress the following safety practices during all warm up and dance activities.

  • When doing knee bends (pliés) keep knees over the toes.
  • When doing any kind of jump, start from bent knees (plié) and land with bent knees (in plié).
  • Align the spine properly in every exercise. Avoid a hyper extended back or a forward thrust pelvis.
  • Make sure shoulders are relaxed and pulled down (avoid hunching by shortening the neck).
  • Students should wear appropriate clothing. Jewellery should be removed and long hair should be tied back.



To dance is to move more precisely and exactly than in everyday life. Students are required to be fully focused and involved in the movement. It is important to be clear on when students should begin to move and when to stop. Movement phrases should have a clear beginning, middle and end.

Viewing and observing dance both during the developmental process and at the end of the final stage is an integral part of the student's dance appreciation.

It is through regular observation and discussion that understanding and knowledge develops. Students should be encouraged to view live or videotaped dance performances. During the performance the student viewing the dance piece should focus on the individual dancers, individual dance phrases and the performance as a whole.

Students should be encouraged to view what has worked satisfactorily and well in the composition. This includes:

  • attending to the task
  • involvement with the movement
  • clear and definite phrases
  • movement content relevant
  • was there variety in the action content?
  • was there development through repetition or spatial or dynamic qualities?
  • was it danced with technical accomplishment?

Teacher observation, as a form of assessment, is particularly appropriate for dance. Assessment is best undertaken as the students are engaged in the activities.

Students need the opportunity to express how they feel about a dance piece whether it is a piece created and performed by professionals or by themselves or their peers.

They should be able to:

  • demonstrate observation skills
  • recall a sequence of movements
  • focus on a task and give positive input
  • apply decision making skills.

Oral assessment, through discussion and analysis of the students own work and the work of other students, will assist in the assessment process.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 July 2009 12:14

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