A course based on this specification will enable candidates to develop skills, knowledge and understanding of dance as 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. 

Candidates will also appreciate the contribution of dance to their personal and social health, fitness and wellbeing and be aware of the range of opportunities and pathways available in dance. 


Candidates must demonstrate their increasing physical competence and effectiveness as a performer through the following. 

1. The physical, technical and mental skills necessary for effective performance: 

  • the basic principles of: posture, alignment, co-ordination, balance, strength, stamina, flexibility, mobility and control 
  • mental capacity: focus, concentration, confidence, determination to succeed 
  •  the body: body parts in isolation and co-ordination, successive and simultaneous movement 
  • action: flexion, extension, rotation, locomotion, turning, gesture, elevation and stillness  
  • dynamics: the qualities of speed, energy and continuity and the combination, contrast, development and variation of these to produce accent, rhythm and phrasing  
  • space: variation in shape, size, level, direction, pathway, design and orientation in space 
  • relationship: body part to body part, movement to movement, dancer to dancer. 

2. The expressive skills necessary for effective performance: 

  • focus: the dancer's sightline; how and where the dancer looks 
  • projection: the clarity, energy and power of the performance 
  • sense of style: sensitivity to the distinctive actions and qualities of the dance 
  • musicality: timing, phrasing and sensitivity to other musical elements such as rhythm, timbre and texture 
  • communication of choreographic intention: empathy with the mood or meaning of the dance and ability to interpret and communicate this 
  • relationships: sensitivity to other dancers in space and time; ability to demonstrate different dance relationships and group formations. 

3. Understanding how to achieve high quality performance: 

  • planning the rehearsal schedule 
  • commitment to rehearsal 
  • identification of the technical and expressive skills necessary for effective performance
  • awareness of the characteristic features of the dance 
  • analysis of strengths and weaknesses of their own and others' performance and capacity to improve 
  • systematic repetition to enhance performance 
  • using ICT (for example, digital camera and video) to monitor and evaluate performance. 

Safe Practice

Candidates must develop their knowledge and understanding of health, fitness and safe working practices relevant to performing and choreographing dances through knowledge of: 

  • personal care, nutrition, hydration and health for dancers 
  • how to warm up and cool down effectively, and basic prevention and treatment of injury
  • safe practice in techniques such as elevation and landing and of taking a partner's weight 
  • personal presentation: dress, footwear, jewellery, hair 
  • safety in the dance space: flooring, temperature, ventilation, obstructions.


Candidates must demonstrate their increasing effectiveness as a choreographer through the following. 

1. Exploring and synthesising ideas, thoughts and meaning through movement by: 

  • imaginatively exploring dance ideas in response to a variety of starting points and stimuli including kinaesthetic, ideational, verbal, visual and musical 
  • investigating the potential of the ideas through research, discussion, mind-mapping and planning 
  • improvising and generating original movement material and selecting that which best suits the dance idea 
  • selection and use of accompaniment that is appropriate to the dance idea and that enhances the movement content
  • experiencing and selecting the most appropriate type of dance to communicate the intention to the audience, for instance, abstract, comic, narrative or lyrical.

2. The use and selection of actions, dynamics, space and relationships to convey artistic intention by: 

  • developing and expanding their movement vocabulary 
  • exploring, selecting and developing these in order to successfully communicate ideas, meaning and mood.

 3. The use of the following choreographic principles to shape the dance: 

  • choreographic devices such as motif and development, repetition, contrast, transitions, highlights and climax 
  • choreographic approaches such as chance, contact, collage 
  • dance relationships such as unison, canon, complementary, contrast, symmetry, accumulation, counterpoint 
  • group formations, spatial design and the manipulation of number 
  • structuring devices, such as binary, ternary, rondo, theme and variation, narrative, episodic. 

Critical Appreciation 

Candidates must demonstrate their ability to appreciate and critique dance through the following. 

1. Developing critical, perceptual, evaluative and reflective skills in response to their own work and the work of others: 

  • describe, analyse, interpret and evaluate the following features of dances, using appropriate terminology:
    • style
    • starting point 
    • number, gender and role of dancers
    • subject matter/idea/concept 
    • action, dynamic, spatial and relationship content
    • technical and expressive features
    • form and structure
    • choreographic principles 
    • setting, set design, lighting and costume 
    • accompaniment 
  •  evaluate the effectiveness of the choreography throughout the process by revising and refining the movement material 
  •  engage emotionally and imaginatively with dances 
  •  evaluate the overall effectiveness of dances. 

2. Developing knowledge and understanding of the work of different choreographers and professional dance works: 

  • recall and communicate knowledge and understanding of dances in different styles and contexts
  • identify the defining characteristics of different dance styles and, where appropriate, influences from other cultures 
  • recognise similarities and differences between different dance styles and dances. 

3. Appreciating the relationship between choreography, performance and production and how these enhance understanding of time, place, character, mood and meaning:

  •  a. Aural setting:
    • silence and accompaniment, for example, song, spoken word, natural/found sound, music from different times and places 
    • features such as: tone, texture, rhythm, dynamics, style, structure, orchestration, leitmotif 
    • the relationship between music and dance content. 
  • b. Physical setting:
    • staging, for example: proscenium, in-theround, site-specific, naturalistic, symbolic, abstract 
    • set design, lighting, props, projection 
    • features: colour, material, texture, decoration, shape, size, levels, placement
    • the relationship between the physical setting and dance content. 
  • c. Costume: 
    • realistic, abstract 
    • features: colour, texture, flow, shape, weight, decoration, line
    • accessories, footwear, masks and make-up
    • the relationship between costume and dance content. 
  • d. Dance for camera: 
    • placement, angle, distance/proximity 
    • special effects
    • the relationship between the camera and the dance content. 
  • e. Pathways and opportunities: 
    • understanding the different roles of those involved in dance production. 

4. Knowledge and understanding of the physical, cultural, aesthetic and artistic contexts in which dance is created and performed: 

  • purposes and reasons for existence 
  • distinctive features of the style 
  • influences from or on other dance and art forms 
  • the contribution of dance to health, fitness and wellbeing

Prescribed professional works 

Candidates will answer questions on two of the following works in the written paper (see Section 3.1). The Performance in a Duo/Group Dance (see Section 3.3) and the Solo Composition task (see Section 3.4.1) will each be informed by one of the following works. These requirements will therefore involve teachers and candidates choosing between two and four of these professional works over the course of study. 

  • And Who Shall Go To The Ball?, Rafael Bonachela, CandoCo.
  • Bird Song, Siobhan Davies
  • Dance Tek Warriors, Union Dance
  • Faultline, Shobana Jeyasingh
  • Ghost Dances or Swansong, Christopher Bruce
  • Nutcracker!, Matthew Bourne 
  • Overdrive, Richard Alston 
  • Perfect, Motionhouse 
  • Romeo and Juliet, Kenneth MacMillan 
  • Rosas Danst Rosas, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker 
  • "Still Life" at the Penguin Café, David Bintley

(The above list may be supplemented with future works which become available. Please check the latest version of the specification on the AQA website for updates). 

Please see the Fact file on the Teacher Resource Bank for up-to-date information on availability and supporting resources.