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Head of Dance - Mr D Burnham

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Lower School

Outline of Subject

“Dance is vital, an activity both exhilarating and liberating to watch or do.” – Richard Alston CBE. Dance at Thornden School provides the opportunity to work physically, creatively and intellectually in a supportive group environment. Students develop their skills in three key areas; performance, composition and appreciation. A range of dance styles and genres are explored within a practical and theoretical context leading to more confident presentation and understanding of planning, composing and performing.

Learning Content

Topic Title


Term 1

Term 2

Term 3



Exploring shape, dynamics, levels as well as introducing key dance vocabulary

 Martin Luther King

 Narrative Dance – using text as a stimulus for dance.

City Life

 Abstract Dance – using everyday movement content and developing it


Rock ‘n’ Roll/Lindyhop

Social Dance – high energy exploration of a social and historic dance style in partners


World Dance – exploring the highly popular genre from India


Street Dance

Popular Dance – using modern music and movement content to explore Hip Hop and more current developments

Contact Work 

Contemporary Dance – learning to give and take weight safely in pairs/small groups

Developing Artistry

Contemporary Dance – working as a whole group building towards creating whole dance pieces that have the potential to be used for performance.

Skill Development

At the start of each new module students will be taught a set ‘technical study’ exploring different movement vocabulary.  They will spend much of their time on the practical activities of composing and refining their own creative ideas as part of a small group.  Students will learn to present their work to an audience and to accept and use verbal feedback as a means of improving their work.  At the end of each module students will be recorded performing their classwork on video, which they may use as the basis for a discussion based evaluation of their own knowledge and progress.

Assessment Styles

At the end of each module students are informally assessed and awarded an effort grade as well as an attainment level based on the school assessment levels.

Additional Information

The department runs a variety of extra-curricular activities that are suitable for all abilities of students. These include Junior Dance Club (Years 7 & 8), Senior Dance Company (starts at Year 9) and Pulse (Boys Dance Company, all years).

Upper School

Exam Board: AQA

Outline of Subject

“GCSE Dance is a fresh and vibrant specification which includes popular performance and choreography, alongside a new collection of shorter, more diverse and accessible professional works. To engage and inspire your students, we’ve taken a creative new approach to the written paper.” AQA

The course will seek to promote knowledge, skill and understanding of dance through performance, composition and appreciation of each candidate’s own work and that of others, including fellow students and professionals.

Course Content

Year Term 1 Term 2 Term 3
10 Safe Dance Practice Motif Development. Anthology 1 Anthology 2 Anthology 3 Anthology 4 Anthology 5  Prepare for Performance Motif Development Into – Solo Composition. Preparation for Written Paper Introduction to Stimuli
11 Group Choreography Begins Set Phrases. Group Choreography Trial Exam Set Phrases Exam Provisional Choreography Anthology 6 Performance in a Group. Preparation for Practical Exams Last Dance Preparation for Written Exam Paper. Written Paper.

Skill Development

There will inevitably be an emphasis on practical work with plenty of opportunities for you to be creative.  You will learn and practise a range of dance styles with the focus predominantly on contemporary dance. You will develop performance skills such as co-ordination, flexibility, focus and projection. You will be taught the craft of choreography and how to create your own dances including devices such as motif development, entrances and exits, rhythmic and spatial design. You will also learn how to analyse, describe and compare dances, placing them in their cultural and historical context, with a detailed focus on an anthology of dance works.


Dance is assessed through a mixture of practical controlled assessment and external examination.

Practical Performance – 40 marks (30%):

  • Set phrases through a solo performance (approximately one minute in duration) 15 marks

  • Duet/trio performance (three and a half minutes in duration) 25 marks

Practical Choreography – 40 marks (30%):

  • Solo or group choreography – a solo (two to two and a half minutes) or a group dance for two to five dancers (three to three and a half minutes)

A written paper, Critical Appreciation of Dance including information on anthology of dance works (40%).

Additional Information

​A keen interest in dance as a performing art and in a range of dance genres is essential, although previous experience or formal training is not.  A good personal fitness level and suppleness is desirable but not essential - these can be acquired!  The ability to work creatively within a group as well as independently is vital.  A range of extra-curricular dance activities will be on offer to students studying this course including GCSE Dance Rehearsals, theatre trips and workshops with professional dance artists.