GCSE Dance is a wonderful course for all students who love to perform, choreograph and watch dance and wish to develop their knowledge and understanding of the subject on a more academic level. Broadly, the qualification is comprised of three main components: Performance, Choreography and Appreciation. The performance element requires students to learn a selection of technical contemporary dance sequences, specially created by professional choreographers for the AQA, and perform these for assessment. Students will be marked on their alignment, coordination, control, spatial awareness, knowledge of the action, dynamic, spatial and rhythmic content and performance quality. Students have to prepare two performances: one solo and one duet or trio. The performance mark accounts for 30% of the total awarded for the GCSE.
Responding to one of a selection of set stimuli (comprising, for example, photographs, poetry, prose, music, art) from the exam board students must choreograph a solo or group dance for the choreography component of the course which, again, accounts for 30% of the total marks available. Students must be able to demonstrate skills and techniques including: knowledge and understanding of motif and motif manipulation, use of space and relationships, structure, the relationship between music and dance and appropriate selection of choreographic devices relative to the chosen stimulus and artistic intention of the piece. Students can choreograph their piece in any genre they wish as long as they can justify their choice in relation to the artistic intention.
The final component of the course is worth 40% of the total marks available and is externally assessed via a 90 written minute exam. For the exam students must demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of safe dance practice and an ability to critically evaluate their performance and choreography. In preparation for the exam they must also study an anthology of six professional dance works, each of approximately 30 minutes duration and representative of a wide range of different dance styles. In the exam students must be able to recall, describe, interpret and evaluate pertinent dance phrases from each of the six works and they must also have a broad comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the artistic intention of each performance and the contributions made by set design, accompaniment, props and costume.
As I am sure that you can appreciate from the course outline above GCSE Dance is incredibly comprehensive and requires a great deal of discipline and commitment. There is an equal amount of theory and practical work involved because of the in depth knowledge and understanding that underpins all of the practical performance and choreography elements not to mention study of the dance anthology. Students considering this course need to be dedicated to not only improving their dance performance and choreographic technique but also their understanding of its constituent parts (so often taken for granted) so that they can become technically adept and dynamic performers, informed and artistic choreographers and knowledgeable and appreciative audiences members.
This course is perfect (and indeed highly recommended) for students who may wish to study AS and A Level Dance and who may have their sights set on University Dance Degrees whether or not their ultimate aim is to work in dance.