Learning in Dance

Learning in Dance involves students exploring elements, skills and processes through the integrated practices of choreography, performance and appreciation. The body is the instrument of expression and uses combinations of the elements of dance (space, time, dynamics and relationships) to communicate and express meaning through expressive and purposeful movement.

Making in Dance involves improvising, choreographing, comparing and contrasting, refining, interpreting, practising, rehearsing and performing.

Responding in Dance involves students appreciating their own and others’ dance works by viewing, describing, reflecting on, analysing, appreciating and evaluating.

In both strands, students engage with the elements of dance by learning the processes of choreography, performance and appreciation. They also learn to use safe dance practices. With an understanding of the body’s capabilities applied to their own body, students develop kinaesthetic intelligence, critical thinking and awareness of how the body moves in dance. The elements of dance work together and underpin all dance activity as students learn to make dance using their developing movement vocabulary with the body. With increasing experience of making and responding, students develop analytical skills and aesthetic understanding. They engage with different types of dance and examine dance from diverse viewpoints to build their knowledge and understanding. Dance skills, techniques and processes are developed through students’ engagement with dance practices that use the body and movement as the materials of dance with, in later bands, the addition of production components.

Knowledge and skills of dance

In Dance, students develop kinaesthetic knowledge through the development of dance knowledge and skills and their engagement with the materials of dance. Early sensory experience using the body as the instrument of expression and movement as the medium is fundamental to the development of this kinaesthetic knowledge in dance and contributes to students’ overall aesthetic understanding.

Dances may have a particular ‘look’, ‘sound’ and ‘feel’ that students respond to positively, negatively or with indifference according to the engagement of their senses, emotions and cognition. Students consider their perceptions of different dances and their notions of what is appealing or not appealing in the bodies, movement, sounds, aural and visual settings of dances they participate in or view.

Through Dance, students learn to reflect critically on their own aesthetic preferences by considering social, historical and cultural influences, and the effects of local and global cultures on their tastes and decision-making. From early family experiences, students’ aesthetic preferences are nurtured by an increasing range of cultural influences. The wider social, historical and cultural contexts for dance present students with differing aesthetic preferences, tastes and viewpoints determined by people and their cultures.

The information below outlines the knowledge and skills that students need to develop in dance. Terms specific to this curriculum are defined in the glossary and a hyperlink to examples of band-appropriate knowledge and skills is provided with the content descriptions.


Students choreograph, perform and appreciate dances from a range of contexts, demonstrating an increasing range of movement skills and style-specific techniques. They learn how choreographic devices are used in the structure and form of dances. Students use the elements of dance with appropriate expressive qualities for choreographic intent.

The elements of dance

Students work safely with the elements of dance (space, time, dynamics and relationships), in combination, to create and communicate meaning through dance.


In making and responding, students learn that meanings can be generated from different viewpoints and that these shift according to different world encounters. As students make, investigate or critique dances as choreographers, dancers and audiences, they may ask and answer questions to consider the choreographers’ and dancers’ meanings and the audiences’ interpretations. Meanings and interpretations are informed by an understanding of how the elements of dance, materials, skills and processes are used in differing social, cultural and historical contexts. These questions provide the basis for making informed critical judgements about their own dance and the dance they see as audiences. The complexity and sophistication of such questions will develop across Foundation – Year 10. In the later years, students will consider the interests and concerns of choreographers, dancers and audiences regarding philosophies and ideologies, critical theories, institutions and psychology.

Types of dance

Learning in dance involves students engaging in dance experiences which explore different types of dance. These may be drawn from a variety of genres and styles including theatrical, traditional, social, ritual and other current dance styles and the forms within them.

In Dance, form is the shape or structure of a dance according to a preconceived plan. For example, binary form is an A section followed by a B section; ternary form is an A section followed by a B section followed by a repeat of the A section; rondo is an expansion of the ternary form into ABACADA; narrative form is a dance that tells a story.

In all bands, students explore dance from a range of historical and cultural contexts. They begin with their experiences of dance from their immediate lives and community and identify the reasons why people dance. They draw on the histories, traditions and styles of dance from a range of places and times including dance from Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, the Asia region, and other world cultures.

As students learn about dance, from the primary to secondary years, they broaden their experiences of dance genres and particular styles and use these as a springboard for their making and responding in Dance. They also consider how dance can communicate and challenge ideas about issues and concepts such as sustainability.

In their dance making, students use a variety of stimuli to create and communicate meaning through movement. They also draw on their experiences in other arts subjects and learning areas.

Skills, techniques and processes

Through making and responding, students develop skills in and understanding of their dance making by becoming increasingly proficient in using choreographic, performance and appreciating practices. As they progress in Dance, students develop their capacity to use skills that enable them to perform safe and meaningful movement. In Dance, students combine and apply technical and expressive skills. As they progress, they build on fundamental movement skills to acquire increasingly complex skills and, particularly in the secondary bands, learn style-based techniques to build their movement vocabulary.

Teachers will select styles and techniques that are appropriate to the students’ experience, their own experience and the school context. Techniques in dance develop from the acquisition of fundamental movement skills to intentional use of more sophisticated technical and expressive skills with the use of style-specific techniques.

When making and responding, students’ dance skills are best developed through activities which integrate the techniques and processes involved in the dance practices: choreographing, performing and appreciating.

  • Choreographing includes students drawing on their developing movement vocabulary as they engage in the creative process of making dance. As they explore and shape their ideas they will be involved in processes such as improvising, exploring, selecting, creating and structuring movement to communicate their intentions.
  • Performing includes students acquiring skills by practising, rehearsing, refining and applying physical and expressive techniques.
  • Appreciating includes students describing, explaining, evaluating and critically analysing their own dances and other dances viewed.


The materials for dance begin with the body, including body awareness, body bases, body parts and body zones. The body uses movement vocabulary developed from using the elements of dance to express and give form to feelings and ideas in choreography and performance. Production components such as performance spaces, costumes, props, lighting, sets, sound and multimedia elements may be incorporated in dance.