Stage 1 | Subject outline | version control

Dance Stage 1
Subject outline

Version 4.0 - For teaching in 2024
Accredited in June 2019 for teaching at Stage 1 from 2020

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Content | understanding-dance

Understanding dance

In understanding dance, students develop and extend their understanding of how ideas and intentions are communicated in and through dance. They build on and refine their knowledge and understanding through dance practices focusing on:

  • the body
  • dance skills
  • dance elements
  • structural devices
  • production elements
  • safe dance practices.

The body

The body is the mobile figure or shape felt by the dancer and seen by others.

Study of the body includes:

  • body part articulations, weight transfer, body awareness, body bases, and body parts.

Dance skills

Dance skills support the concepts and processes needed to create and communicate choreographic meaning.

They are:

  • technical skills — physical execution, such as control, accuracy, alignment, strength, balance, coordination, placement, flexibility, endurance, articulation, timing, rhythm, extension, and spatial awareness
  • expressive skills — interpretive qualities, such as confidence, clarity of movement and intention, projection, focus (eyeline, concentration), musicality, facial expression, body expression, and energy.

Dance elements

The elements of dance are the foundational concepts and vocabulary that help students develop movement skills and understand dance as an artistic practice.

They include:

  • space — the way dancers move through and interact with the physical world. This includes direction, dimension/size, shape, active space, positive space, negative space, planes, pathways, facings, general space, personal space, and performance space
  • time — the way dancers interact with time, including metre, tempo, momentum, accent, duration, phrasing, rhythmic patterns, stillness, and beat
  • dynamics — the way dances are executed and the way weight, force, and energy are applied. It also refers to movement qualities (e.g. sustained, swinging, suspended, collapsing, percussive, or vibratory)
  • relationships — the dancer’s connections to body parts (e.g. hand to face), the floor, objects, other dancers, and the space.

Structural devices

Structural devices are the tools used to organise and shape dance.

They include:

  • choreographic devices — the tools a choreographer selects and uses to shape movement to communicate ideas, e.g. motif and development, repetition, improvisation, contrast, echo, canon, mirroring, and unison
  • form — the structural organisation or shape of a dance to enhance the clarity of a movement or theme, e.g. AB, ABA, rondo, theme and variation, narrative, and collage.

Production elements

The production elements are the non-movement elements used to support the intent of the choreography.

They include:

  • lighting
  • performance space
  • aural elements — sound, e.g. music, spoken word, SFX, found sound, silence
  • costumes
  • sets
  • props
  • technologies.

Safe dance practices

Safe dance practices involve the selection and execution of safe movement enabling students to participate without risk of injury. This involves developing an understanding of the body and its limitations. It also involves respecting the rights of individuals with regards to their personal values about subject matter, movements, space, physical contact, and communication style.

This includes:

  • an understanding of the structure and function of the musculoskeletal system
  • an understanding of the cause and prevention of common dance injuries.