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“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”


        Martha Graham            



Subject Intent:

The dance curriculum at Smithills School intends to offer opportunities for all pupils to develop their creativity, self-confidence, artistic appreciation, cultural understanding, social skills, teamwork, communication and self-awareness. The focus is to encourage the free use of creativity and imagination, through exploration of movement, expression and appreciation. Pupils will explore dance, within a safe working environment, through exploring, reproducing and developing dance movement, phrasing and repertoire whilst refining their own skills in movement and choreography.

There are key sequential points within the dance curriculum that provides our pupils with an opportunity to create work from a stimulus, such as images, poetry, newspaper articles, an emotion or a storyline/theme. In doing this, pupils engage with an issue sensitively and maturely, encouraging pupils to explore their own beliefs and understand the perspectives of others. In dance, the intention is for pupils to be assessed on the ‘create, develop, perform and appreciate’ assessment model that allows pupils to understand the different strands within dance to promote teamwork, independence and resilience. The breadth of the subject matter investigated within the curriculum allows individuals to explore their own feelings, strengths and areas for improvement. Within the ‘appreciation’ element, pupils will partake in a range of formative and summative assessments to develop own and others’ reflections that are justified and offer positive steps on how to improve. An ability to listen, think and express themselves honestly and clearly, is a skill vital to all learners.

The dance curriculum at Smithills School inspire the creative mind through providing curiosity and new experiences. Channelling pupils' creativity is vital to them discovering their own abilities, voice and place in the world. Dance is instrumental in building interpersonal skills and new experiences that will serve them for the rest of their life. Dance promotes innovation and new ways of thinking to enhance a pupil’s holistic educational experience. The dance curriculum is fully inclusive, enabling all pupils to access the knowledge and skills regardless of their starting points and barriers to learning. Specific groups such as SEND, DP, MA are closely monitored and intervention, where necessary, is planned in order to reduce gaps and to allow pupils to meet their targets.

We built the curriculum with the intent that pupils will:

  • Experience a broad, deep and knowledge rich curriculum through experiencing a wide range of dance styles, dance skills and dance techniques. Our study of style, skills and techniques within our knowledge rich curriculum aims to create a resilient pupil who has a thirst for dance, choreography and performance. Pupils will be exposed to a wide range of social, cultural and thematic professional dance works which will further build on their awareness, curiosity, appreciation and knowledge of dance and its place within society.

  • Be literate and numerate in order to show their in-depth appreciation of dance, choreography, skills and techniques and performance. Pupils will be able to communicate, with creative minds, their own ideas, knowledge and critical appreciation in order to demonstrate their understanding of dance. Numeracy skills will underpin these aspects through the ability to formulate accurate timings of own and others’ choreography, budgeting costing implications of choreography and performance and chronologically appreciate historical, cultural and thematic professional dance works.    

  • Have high expectations for their behaviour and achievement through a range of practical and theoretical elements within dance. Pupils will appreciate and value the dance space and resources by fully embedding the Smithills Standards, Vision and Values and nurturing respect for others.

  • Develop their cultural, moral, social, mental and physical development through experiencing the wider context of dance within society. Pupils will be actively encouraged to participate in further dance activities and events.

  • Be prepared for life beyond the school by equipping our pupils with creativity, confidence, resilience, curiosity, teamwork and social skills to support with dealing with modern day issues and challenges.


Subject Implementation:

We implement an exciting, rich and progressive curriculum that draws upon creating, developing, performing and appreciation of dance. Pupils consistently respond to a range of appropriately selected stimuli, styles, techniques and repertoire culminating in solo and group work. This is further enriched through the study, exploration, research and appreciation of relevant dance works. Pupils will approach the subject with a high level of self-discipline, maturity and are encouraged to embrace the holistic study of the dance. Pupils are assessed through a range of formative and summative assessment strategies based on their creative ideas, development ideas, performances and appreciation of own and others’ work. The dance curriculum is sequenced to ensure pupils learn and foster the skills and techniques found within historical, cultural, stylistic, social and thematic dance. Pupils are able to make relevant and transferable links between the pioneers of dance, dance practitioners, techniques, styles, content and context to gain a wider understanding and appreciation of dance. As their skills develop so too does their knowledge of the performing arts industry as we prepare pupils to grasp the characteristics of professional dance works such as, production (staging, lighting, properties, costume, dancers, aural settings) performance environment, choreographic approaches and choreographic intent. To foster enjoyment and creativity, knowledge is taught and developed through a range of pedagogical principles and strategies, for example, the use of purposeful and well realised live or recorded modelling of practical tasks to support knowledge, understanding and appreciation of style, technique and/or skill complemented through appropriate reading materials that provide context and content enabling pupils to understand the purpose, vocabulary and bigger picture. 


Subject Enrichment:

Dance enrichment opportunities are integral to the complete, holistic development of pupils. All pupils are given opportunities in dance that develops new skills, confidence and leadership; working independently, or within a group to enhance their learning experience. We believe that our extensive dance enrichment provisions aid each student’s sense of pride, self-worth and achievement whilst building a platform for academic accomplishment.


We provide a rich and varied enrichment program including:

  • Regular trips to the see live dance at local and national venues

  • Elite Dance Company is a company, formed in January 2017, that trains regularly at during lunch and after school. The company is aimed at those pupils, opened to any year group, who enjoy dance and may possibly want to consider it as a career. The dance company has performed and trained at several professional venues including, Alton Towers, Bolton Albert Halls, Her Majesty’s Theatre London, Blackpool Opera House, Victoria Theatre, Halifax and Pineapple Dance Studios, London.

  • Our dance pupils have an opportunity to perform in our school productions and events, throughout the academic year.

  • Links and providing opportunities to work with visiting dance professional practitioners

  • developing partnerships with external providers that extend children’s opportunities for learning

  • providing on and off-site subject or topic related experiences.


Subject Impact:


In dance we focus on improving not only their choreographic and performance skills and gaining a better knowledge of dance within society but also helping pupils to improve their social skills, health and wellbeing and mental skills. Pupils will have the opportunity to create, perform and respond to a variety of stimuli, all of which cause pupils to ‘think’ and choreograph a response that is shared with an audience. Through opportunities of verbal and written communication pupils will be able to critically analyse, interpret and evaluate their own and others’ work. With this wealth of experience pupils will be able to understand the similarities and differences between the defining characteristics within dance and professional dance works and understand the purpose and significance of different performance environments in which the dance was created and performed.

Knowledge and Skills

Pupils studying dance at KS3 develop a range of dance knowledge, skills and techniques through exploring the social, historical, thematic and cultural diversity of dance. This learning not only prepares them to study dance at KS4 but also provides them with a wealth of transferable skills that are pivotal in other subject areas. Pupils are taught how to engage with and develop their creative, physical, emotional and intellectual capacity through dance repertoire, practitioners, skills, techniques, choreography and performance.


Year 7:

Pupils will develop their knowledge of:

  • The context and content (RADS) of professional dance repertoire and the interrelationships (style, music and choreographic purpose/intent) within the dance repertoire

  • The fundamental aspects of topical, historical, social, cultural and thematic concepts within dance

  • The fundamental concepts of creating and performing dance through knowing and applying RADS (relationships, actions, dynamics and spacing)

  • The fundamental concepts of knowing and applying principles of creating choreography (device and structure) and performance (expressive skills)

  • Safe working practice within dance – understanding why we warm up and cool down, why absence of jewellery is important, why having the correct footwear and hairstyle is important and how to safely execute movement content correctly

Pupils will develop their skills in

  • How the body moves and how the body moves with others (relationship content) what movement the body can do (action content) how the body can move (dynamic content) where the body can move to (spatial content) RADS

  • Choreographic processes (creating a piece of dance) through demonstrating and developing repertoire, selecting specific ideas, structuring the piece, choreographic devices (unison, canon and repetition) and consideration of refining a piece of dance for performance.

  • Expressive skills (performing a piece of dance) focus and projection.

  • Knowing how to constructively critically appreciate own and others work inclusive of professional dance repertoire studied.

Year 8: builds on the foundation laid in Year 7.

Pupils will develop their knowledge of:

  • Professional dance repertoire and interrelationships (style, music, choreographic approaches/purpose/intent, features of production, performance environment) within the dance repertoire

  • The contrast and comparisons of social, historical, thematic and cultural concepts within dance and the impact on the wider community

  • How research, improvisation, generating, selecting, developing and structuring is key to the choreographic process

  • What expressive skills, such as focus, projection, spatial awareness has an impact on a performance

  • How further development of RADS (relationship, action, dynamic and spacing) develops and supports a choreographic intent

Pupils will develop their skills in

  • Relationship ideas and how they support the choreographic intent, action ideas and how they support the style, spatial ideas and how they support approach, purpose, intent and performance environment, dynamic ideas and how they support the music and overall purpose/intent of the piece.

  • Build on the learning and exploration of professional repertoire and forming critical views of the contrasts and comparisons between the dance repertoire learned and demonstrated

  • Choreography - creating and remembering sequences/phrases, further explorative and purposeful use of choreographic devices, use evaluating against intent, developing own material to add further depth

  • Performance - use of eye line, mirrors, peripheral vision, change in focus and facial expressions


Year 9


Pupils will develop their knowledge of:

  • Contemporary dance practitioners, including Richard Alston and Merce Cunningham, through key techniques, concepts and choreographic methods/approaches within their professional dance repertoire either for stage or camera.

  • Learning and executing professional repertoire through exploration of content and context.

  • How to apply action, space and dynamics within the concept of motif development

  • Working with and selecting a stimulus from a choreographic brief, pupils at this stage have the opportunity to experience life as a choreographer and not have to be in the actual piece

Pupils will develop their skills in

  • Learning, selecting, developing and demonstrating the techniques from the dance practitioners.

  • Learning, selecting, developing and demonstrating motifs from the dance practitioners.

  • Working as a dance company and engaging with other dancers and their ideas whilst demonstrating and understanding the value of mental skills and the impact they have on the choreographic and performance process and outcome.

  • Description, evaluation and analysis of own work and the work of others.

Year 10 – BTEC Performing Arts (With a Dance Approach)

Pupils will develop their knowledge of:

  • Three different professional dance works and interrelationships within the dance repertoire

  • The social, historical, thematic and cultural concepts within the three professional dance works.

  • Understanding how intent and theme can be referenced within a piece of dance

  • Roles and responsibilities in line with intentions within the three professional dance works

  • The stylistic qualities within the three professional dance works through relationship, action spacing and dynamic content.

  • The physical, technical and expressive skills required for developing skills and techniques as a dancer

Pupils will develop their skills in

  • Learning the key skills and techniques of the choreographer from the three professional dance works

  • Learning motif and content dance material from the three professional dance works

  • Learning choreographic processes and approaches from the three professional dance works

  • Learning how to explore the choreographic methods, processes and approaches through own work as influenced from the three professional works

Year 11 – BTEC Performing Arts (With a Dance Approach)

Pupils will develop their knowledge of:

  • The application of technical and performance design during a rehearsal process

  • The stylistic qualities of repertoire and the skills and techniques required

  • How to review the development of skills and techniques in relation to repertoire and own ability

  • How to set actions and targets to improve own ability and work

  • How to work successfully to a vocational brief as a group and company performer

Pupils will develop their skills in

  • Dance skills and techniques to support overall development as a dancer and performer

  • Learning, exploring, examining and developing skills and techniques required within a piece of repertoire

  • Writing an evaluative journal on the development of ideas, skills, techniques, actions and targets 

  • Performing skills required for executing repertoire and own work in response to a vocational brief

Contact the Head of Faculty for Performing Arts and Physical Education:

Mr Milthorpe -

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