Dance is a popular and highly regarded subject at Beaconsfield High School. It is taught to all students in Key Stage 3 and is offered as an optional subject from year 10 upwards. Students have the opportunity to study dance as an examination subject at both GCSE and A Level. Furthermore, dance is an extremely popular extra curricular activity for all years.
Dance helps students develop a number of skills:
- Visual appreciation of dance and choreography
- Balanced judgement
- Information gathering and assessment
- Ability to work on your own or as part of a team
- Project management
- Creative thinking and problem solving
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Key Stage 3
Students study a range of units within Key Stage 3 aimed at developing their choreography, performance and appreciation skills. They are introduced to different dance styles including:
- Rock n Roll Dance
- Musical Theatre
- Street Dance
- Contempoary Dance
- Lindy Hop
- Classical Indian Dance
- Modern Jazz
In Year 7 & 8 students have half a term of Dance, in Year 9, students have one full term of Dance. The units students study at Key Stage 3 are as follows:
- Rock n Roll Dance– As part of a carousel in the students first few weeks at the High School students explore the origins of this dance style and learn a range of the basic steps. In addition they explore developing choreography using spatial elements.
- Me Ol' Bamboo - Students then go on to learn about the origins of Musical Theatre. They learn a range of basic steps in this style with a focus on performance skills and characterisation. They explore learning choreography to a song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
- Annie – Students explore basic street dance movement, combining this with some Musical Theatre to create a performance piece from Annie. Students develop their choreographic skills by learning how to develop movement using Action, Space, Dynamics and Relationships.
- Elements of Nature– Students develop an understanding of the basic principles of contemporary technique, developing their physical and expressive skills through challenging exercises and movement content. Furthermore, there is a focus on the choreographic process; learning how to create, structure and develop movement material to create a Contemporary Dance piece based on the Elements of Nature.
- Dance around the World– students learn about various dance styles including: Lindy Hop, Capoeira, Classical Indian Dance, Salsa and Modern Jazz. They explore the historic background of each dance style whilst learning key movement material in each style and developing their choreographic skills.
Key Stage 4 - GCSE Dance
Key Stage 4
Students follow the AQA GCSE Dance course. 60% of the course is practical assessed through the following components:
- Performance of two short taught set phrases,
- A trio performance (created collaboratively between the teacher and students)
- Either a solo or group choreography, in response to a stimulus set by AQA.
The remaining 40% of the course is theory based and is assessed through a written examination paper split into three sections
- Section 1 challenges students to explain how they would approach a given stimulus, detailing how they would develop a piece of choreography in response to specific questions alongside other short answer questions relating to their own performance and development of skills and safe working practice.
- Section 2 requires students to give slightly longer responses to questions relating to their own performance of the set phrases, trio performance or their own choreography
- Section 3 is based on the ‘Dance Anthology’ a catalogue of six dance works and includes two 12 mark essay style questions, challenging students to analyse the works and the choreographer’s choices. The works on the current specification are:
- Emancipation of Expressionism – Boy Blue Entertainment
- Within Her Eyes – James Cousins
- Artificial Things – Stopgap Dance Company
- Shadows – Christopher Bruce (performed by Phoenix Dance Theatre)
- A Linha Curva – Itzik Galili (performed by Rambert)
- Infra – Wayne McGregor (performed by The Royal Ballet)
Through the GCSE course, students develop skills, knowledge and understanding of dance as a choreographer, performer and critic through:
- Applying and adapting a wide range of skills and techniques effectively in performing and choreographing dance, including the ability to improve;
- Creating dances for a range of purposes and in response to different stimuli;
- Developing the ability to analyse, evaluate and appreciate dance.
- Students also develop their appreciation of the contribution of dance to their personal and social health, fitness and wellbeing and develop awareness of the range of opportunities and pathways available in dance.
Theatre visits are an integral part of the course giving the students the opportunity to study live professional dance. IN the past year students have had the chance to go on trips to see Matthew Bourne’s Dance Company, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Acosta Danza. Dance workshops with visiting artists and professional dance companies are also a key element.
Extra Curricular Dance
Extra Curricular Dance is extremely popular within the school. Lunch time and after school dance clubs are available for all year groups from beginners through to advanced dancers offering a range of dance styles. Clubs are run by older dance students, the dance teacher and external specialists.
There is an annual school dance show at The Wycombe Swan, involving a large number of students from across the school and from our local primary schools. This is an extremely popular event on the school calendar.
Students in the Advanced Dance Group have the opportunity to perform in Community Dance Platforms at local theatres. Past performances have included:
- ‘Energize’, 'Unite' and ‘Dance Challenge’ at the Wycombe Swan Theatre
- ‘Just Dance’ at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
- 'MAD Festival' at Waddesdon Manor
- 'Dance Challenge' at the Beck Theatre, Hillingdon
- ‘Dance Challenge’ at Cadogan Hall in London
- 'Lift Off' at South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell
- ‘Rock Challenge’ at Portsmouth Guildhall
- ‘Fluid in Flight’ at The Milton Keynes Theatre
Students are also offered the unique and invaluable experience of further developing their technique and appreciation of dance by participating in Dance tours. In October 2006 students went to Lake Garda and participated in a series of Hip Hop and Breakdance workshops and in February 2010, October 2011 and February 2014 students participated in tours to New York where they received tuition from Broadway performers and choreographers and saw two Broadway shows.