Typhani Harris | February 2015

Unpacking the Dance Standards: Standard 7

This month we will be exploring Dance Standards_7: Perceive and Analyze Artistic Work.

Anchor Dance standards  7 focuses on the artistic process of responding with the component of analysis.  The enduring understanding is how dance is perceived and analyzed to comprehend its meaning.  Although the anchor dance standards does not change as the grade level progresses the expectation continues to advance.

In unpacking this dance standards we need to analyze what our students need to know, understand, and be able to do.  There are quite a few concepts presented in this dance standards, so let’s begin with defining the language:*

Artistic Intent:

The artists’ purpose behind the work and intended message to the audience

Element of Dance:

The key components of movement; movement of the body using space, time, and energy; often referred to as the elements of movement; see Elements of Dance Organizer by Perpich Center for Arts Education (used with permission)


A category of dance characterized by similarities in form, style, purpose, or subject matter (for example, ballet, hip hop, modern, ballroom, cultural practices)


Dance that has specific movement characteristics, qualities, or principles that give it distinctive identity (for example, Graham technique is a style of Modern Dance; rhythm tap is a style of Percussive Dance; Macedonian folk dance is a style of International Folk dance; Congolese dance is a style of African Dance)

Cultural Movement Practices:

Physical movements of a dance that are associated with a particular country, community, or people

Dance Terminology:

Vocabulary used to describe dance and dance experiences

Simple dance terminology
(Tier 1/PreK-2):

Basic pedestrian language (for example, locomotor words walk, run, tip-toe, slither, roll, crawl, jump, march, and gallop; and non-locomotor words, bend, twist, turn, open and close)

Basic dance terminology
(Tier 2/grades 3-5):

Vocabulary used to describe dance movement techniques, structures, works, and experiences that are widely shared in the field of dance (for example, stage terminology, compositional vocabulary, language defining dance structures and devices, anatomical references, dance techniques such as alignment or “line”)

Genre-specific dance terminology (Tier 3/grades 6 up):

Words used to describe movement within specific dance forms ballet, contemporary, culturally-specific dance, funk, hip-hop, jazz, modern, tap, and others (for example, in Polynesian dance (Hula), auwana, kahiko, halau, kaholo, uwehe, ami); in ballet: glissade, pas de bouree, pas de chat, arabesque; in jazz: kick ball change, pencil turn, jazz walk, jazz run; in modern: contraction, triplets, spiral, pivot turn; and in tap: shuffle-step, cramp roll, riff, wing, time step

*For the full glossary of all terms used throughout the national dance standards go to: http://www.nationalartsstandards.org/

This weeks’ lesson can be modified for all grades K-12 by changing the expectations of response, and can be viewed as a full unit taking multiple days to complete.

Lesson Plan

Grade: 9-12 (but can be simplified for younger students)

Title: What is Dance?

Established Goals:
a. Analyze recurring patterns of movement ant their relationships in dance in context of artistic intent.
b.  Analyze the use of elements of dance in a variety of genres, styles, or cultural movement practices within its cultural context to communicate intent.  Use genre-specific dance terminology.

Enduring Understanding: Dance is perceived and analyzed to comprehend meaning.

Essential Question: How is dance understood?

Objectives: Students will

  • view various examples of cultural, social, historical, and concert dance
  • complete immediate responses to the viewed pieces
  • analyze one piece with greater intent through the use of the ARTISTIC critique
  • Recreate the movement and patterns in another medium of art

Learning Activities

  1. Choose multiple pieces of cultural, social, historical, and concert dance to view with the students
  2. During the viewing have students respond to the following questions:
    • What did you see? (verbs/adjectives)
    • What does it mean? (draw conclusions about the artists’ intent based on the movement, music, expression)
    • Why is it dance? (make assumptions about the why, why is this movement performed, what is it’s social/political importance, is it ritualistic/tribal, etc.?)
  3. Have students choose one piece that really resonated to build a larger response.
  4. Using ARTISTIC critique, have students complete the steps of artistic analysis.  (See my article ARTISTIC Critique for more information on this process)
  5. Utilizing the last response of ARTISTIC: Create, have students recreate the intent of the piece through another medium of art.  For example: have students recreate the movement as a poem, visual art piece, a song, lyrics to a rap, etc.
  6. Have student perform the recreation.  This could be a fun opportunity to have the audience guess the piece they are recreating, or even play the piece simultaneously with the recreated art.

Assessment Rubric
What is dance Rubric

Unpacking the Dance Standards, Education Closet


Human Kinetics has a great resource for this activity: Exploring Dance Forms and Styles: A Guide to Concert, World, Social, and Historical Dance by Helene Scheff, Marty Sprague, and Susan McGreevy-Nichols.  It has many lessons already set up and handouts for students.  It also comes with a DVD of various dances.

This is a great activity to complete with beginning dancers.  It gives them a chance to explore movement in a non threatening way, as well as express themselves in a way that is comfortable for them.  Similarly, it gives context and background to dance as a whole, and introduces students to the rich history of the art.

Next Week: Test Prep
How can the Arts assist in the Test Prep process?
Although we are an untested subject, the arts can play a pivotal role is helping students prepare for the high stakes standardized testing that they will inevitably be faced with each year.

About the Author

Dr. Typhani Harris, author of Putting the Performance in Performance Task and Stop Teaching, brings over 2 decades of educational experience to The Institute. Originally a high school English Language Arts teacher, Dr. Harris transitioned into a dance educator who cultivated an award-winning collegiate style dance education program at a public school in California. Prior to joining the Institute, she was an educational leader and instructional coach specializing in preparing new teachers in secondary urban schools.  As the Executive Director of Academic Affairs, Dr. Harris maintains courses, conferences, and the accredited certification program at The Institute.