What is Dance about?
Subject-specific terms can be found in the glossary.
Dance is an expressive movement that has intent, purpose, and form. Dance is an expression of culture, art, identity, and contexts. It enables all ākonga to explore and appreciate te ao Māori and other cultures in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Students learn that dance is a holistic experience which links the mind, body, and emotions - integrating thinking, moving, and feeling. Learners explore dance elements, vocabularies, and processes to express personal, group, and cultural identities. Dance is also an avenue for conveying, interpreting, and challenging ideas. Students will strengthen social interaction skills and build relationships.
Dance is an embodied language. Students develop literacy in dance as they learn about, and develop skills in, movement, performance and choreography. They learn to understand and respond to a variety of dance genres, styles, and forms from a range of contexts, past and present.
Dance is centred on the learner. Teachers are facilitators, enabling students to understand and explore dance forms and develop their own ideas, expression, and sense of identity. Dance celebrates learners’ diverse cultures and experiences.
The progression of students across New Zealand Curriculum Levels 6 to 8 is demonstrated by their increasingly sophisticated ability to identify, apply, integrate, reflect on and evaluate dance elements, processes, performances and contexts.
Big Ideas and Significant Learning
This section outlines the meaning of and connection between the Big Ideas, Significant Learning and Learning Matrix. It then explains each Dance Big Idea.
Big Ideas are derived from the Learning Area essence statement and capture the essence of a subject, ensuring coherence rather than fragmentation of learning. At the subject level, they inform the Significant Learning – learning that is critical for students to know, understand, and do in relation to a subject by the end of each Curriculum Level. This covers knowledge, skills, competencies, and attitudes. It also includes Level-appropriate contexts students should encounter in senior secondary education.
The Significant Learning is collated into a Learning Matrix and progresses across Curriculum Levels 6-8. Teachers can use the Learning Matrix as a tool to construct learning programmes that cover all the ‘not to be missed’ learning in a subject. There is no prescribed order to the Learning Matrix within each level. A programme of learning might begin with a context that is relevant to the local area of the school or an idea that students are particularly interested in. This context or topic must relate to at least one Big Idea and may also link to other Big Ideas. The Learning Matrix is designed so that educators have the freedom to create courses that are both flexible and coherent.
For example, the Learning Matrix enables rich engagement with mātauranga Māori, Pacific, and many other cultures, sustaining te ao Māori and recognising the diversity of Aotearoa New Zealand. The diversity of individual learners is also recognised and valued, as the matrix does not define or constrain how students can engage with, or access, the Significant Learning.
The nature of Dance as a discipline means aspects of Significant Learning often cross over multiple Big Ideas, and vice versa. The matrix weaves together the Significant Learning and Big Ideas.
Dance is a descendant and holder of culture – He atua, he tipua, he tangata
Dance is learner-centred, where the learner is the dance. Ākonga come with their own culture, whakapapa, and indigeneity. Dance allows learners to access and benefit from mātauranga Māori and te ao Māori. Students can connect with who they are, developing confidence, well-being, and their own artistic identity.
Teachers facilitate learners’ access to dance, surface expression, and give them the skills to communicate and share their culture. Dance encourages the celebration of uniqueness. It also enables learners to be comfortable with, and to value, other cultures and ideas.
Dance is not separate from the culture of society. It is born out of context, and so evolves as society does. While culture can be interpreted widely, learners can engage with the increasingly ethnically and culturally diverse society in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The creation and exploration of dance nurtures whakawhanaungatanga
Dance is a vehicle for forming and sustaining relationships. These are multi-faceted and holistic – with others, with oneself, with the environment. Nurturing relationships is a continuous and active process. It is integral to the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of self.
Through shared moments, experiences, and collaboration, learners can gain a sense of belonging, community, and identity. Diverse identities, abilities, and roles are respected and celebrated, creating a foundation for collaboration and interdependence - valuing and learning from one another. Roles in the group can take many forms in this context and are not fixed (such as who leads, follows, and how). Likewise, tuakana-teina relationships are flexible and interchangeable.
Dance is an embodied language through which learners can explore and communicate ideas, culture, and identity
Dance is the essence of embodiment (being in your body) - learning is engaged through movement. It has its own literacy where students write dance with their bodies, and read dance with their eyes and minds. Dance vocabulary is active; it involves steps, sequences, patterns, and ways of moving which can be personal or particular to a dance form. Through moving and observing movement, learners explore and transform ideas into expressive works that communicate meaning.
Dance language supports mātauranga Māori – through dance, learners can value, sustain and reflect reo, kōrero, stories, narratives, whakapapa and tikanga.
With teacher facilitation learners can research concepts, interpret the work of others, appreciate other cultures, and examine and resolve ideas. Through increasing literacy, they can find and develop their own movement vocabulary to express ideas and identity.
Dance provides space to ask questions, challenge assumptions, promote difference and provoke alternative thinking
Dance education empowers learners to find and use their voice through curiosity and critical thinking. They gain skills for life by communicating, critiquing, challenging, questioning, negotiating, and testing meanings and ideas. Through whakawhanaungatanga, a safe and respectful space is created to support this.
Dance brings learners out of their comfort zones, encouraging them to be creative, take risks, express controversial or alternative viewpoints, and create impact through choreography. It gives a framework to provoke deep discussions about culture, identity, and society. This in turn creates a bridge between dance and other disciplines and contexts.
Dance creation and performance involves the processes of practice, exploration, selection, reflection, synthesis, editing and refinement
In exploring movement vocabulary and choreography, learners synthesise ideas through a dynamic interplay of these processes. Learners will generate and refine ideas through cycles of action and reflection to create cohesive, fluent expressions of dance forms. They will reflect and determine which process is appropriate at a specific point. Technologies will help equip students to curate and develop their choreographic devices, structures, and performance.
Dance fosters the growth of a holistic set of knowledge, skills, and dispositions
Dance education is a holistic experience not limited to physicality and movement. Dance education is a powerful tool for developing valuable and transferable social, physical, and cognitive skills. Learners develop social skills, enabling them to work in class groups, teams, and in their dance communities. Dance heightens awareness of the body and increases the quality of personal and physical well-being. Creative and critical thinking and problem-solving abilities are fostered.
Dance is a unique medium for learning about self and identity, building self-confidence, and developing resilience and perseverance. Students will develop a better sense of their ‘whys’. They have a safe platform to design and organise movements and structures and to communicate and justify their choreographic intentions. This in turn encourages learners to explore ideas freely and to have a strong sense of ownership of their choreography. They can own what they create.
Key Competencies in Dance
Developing Key Competencies through Dance
Dance education provides meaningful contexts for developing Key Competencies from the New Zealand Curriculum. These Key Competencies are woven through, and embedded in, the Big Ideas and Significant Learning. For example, Big Ideas and Significant Learning may delve into critical thinking and analysis, collaborating and building relationships, and/or exploring cultures and identity.
Students in Dance will:
- explore, analyse, and interpret concepts and ideas
- choose and curate specific movements and structures, and communicate their meanings
- use creative and critical thinking to justify choreographic choices.
Using language symbols and text
Students in Dance will:
- understand that dance knowledge and information can be represented in many ways, such as physical, verbal, and written
- explore, develop, and perform movements and choreography using language, symbols, and text
- interpret and communicate dance as an embodied language, and be able to examine the whakapapa of its many genres, styles and forms.
Relating to others
Students in Dance will:
- collaborate and communicate with other learners as they engage in dance processes, and gain a sense of community and belonging
- be able to explore te ao Māori and connect to the wider world by embracing the diversity of people, cultures and contexts.
Students in Dance will:
- be able to take risks with confidence and express themselves freely by pushing boundaries, as they make new meanings and experiences through dance
- develop self-discipline, perseverance, adaptability, and openness to learning
- gain a sense of ownership and identity through designing dance movements and choreography.
Participating and contributing
Students in Dance will:
- reflect on and evaluate their participation in group settings, and understand that this can take many forms, such as leading, following, or observing
- be able to share ideas and offer meaningful contributions, negotiate outcomes, and value the participation and ideas of others.
The Key Competencies section of New Zealand Curriculum online offers guidance to school leaders and teachers on integrating the Key Competencies into the daily activities of the school and its Teaching and Learning Programmes.
Introduction to sample course outlines
Sample Course Outlines are being produced to help teachers and schools understand the new NCEA Learning Matrix and Achievement Standards. The draft Course Outlines that were published at the end of Phase 1, Level 1 product development are now being taken down. Work will continue on these, reflecting the changes noted in the SEG responses, and the additional detail that will be provided in Phase 2 products. They will be re-published for the next cycle of feedback on the Phase 2 products in early August 2021. Exemplars of student work will be provided after the Pilot phase in 2022.
Unpacking The Standards
These statements help to unpack the ways in which the Achievement Standards assess the Significant Learning in the Learning Matrix.
1.1 (Internal) Demonstrate understanding of dance performances
For this standard, students will demonstrate understanding of the features of dance performances (minimum two) through performing and reflection. Performance is integral to dance as the means to communicate ideas, stories, identity, and feelings.
The standard combines both performing and reflection on performances. This is because the doing and reading of dance are synonymous.
Significant Learning related to this standard includes developing performing skills and reflecting on dance, learning how meaning is communicated, using the elements of dance to describe choreographic features, and understanding the role of technologies in dance production. Relevant Arts Learning Area strands from the NZ Curriculum include Communicating and Interpreting and Developing Practical Knowledge.
Students’ performance may demonstrate understanding of, for example, choreographic intent (ideas, moods) and form, technical or stylistic needs. Reflections may show understanding of ideas and intentions and how dance elements have been used to communicate these. It is intended that reflections could take several forms - written, oral, visual, a physical or danced response.
1.2 (Internal) Demonstrate understanding of a dance genre or style
For this standard, students will explore a dance genre or style, and demonstrate knowledge and understanding of its purpose, context, and features. Genre and style are not limited to artistic forms.
Significant Learning related to this standard includes exploring a variety of dance genres and styles, and understanding the importance of context, culture, and identity in dance. The Understanding Context strand, from the NZ Curriculum Arts Learning Area, is particularly relevant.
It is intended that understanding and knowledge could be demonstrated and assessed in several ways, including performance.
1.3 (External) Demonstrate understanding of the elements of dance
For this standard, students will explore and demonstrate practical application of the elements of dance. The elements of dance are the key components of movement: body, space, time, energy, and relationships.
Significant Learning related to the elements of dance includes performance, choreography, developing movement vocabulary, and exploring a range of dance genres and styles. The elements of dance are woven through all four strands in The Arts Learning Area of the NZ Curriculum.
Students will identify and apply, in a practical way, the elements of dance. They may show they understand how the elements can be used to: explore, generate or compose movement; learn and perform or demonstrate dance; describe their own movement and that of others; analyse movements in a dance performance or dance genre or style.
As the elements of dance are involved in all four standards, students may have several sources of work for this standard. Demonstration must include physically - such as by the students themselves or through instructing others.
1.4 (External) Choreograph dance movement sequences
For this standard, students will explore ways of moving, select movements, and order them into sequences (minimum two) to communicate intent, for a given brief.
A sequence is a series of connected movements, chosen to communicate.
Significant Learning related to this standard includes learning how meaning is created through choreography, exploring and developing movement vocabulary, and applying the elements of dance. Students will be engaging with all four strands in the Arts Learning Area of the NZ Curriculum.
Students will communicate purpose and ideas through movement, demonstrated through choreography. They will look to communicate clearly, work with creativity and imagination, and use choreographic processes to develop and refine their work.