Typhani Harris | June 2015

Unpacking the National Standards: Anchor Standard 11

This is the final installment of the Unpacking the National Anchor Standard for Dance series.  This month we will be exploring Anchor Standard_11:  Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.

Anchor standard  11 focuses on the artistic process of connecting with the component of relate.  The enduring understanding is how dance literacy includes deep knowledge an perspectives about societal, cultural, historical, and community contexts.  Although the anchor standard does not change as the grade level progresses the expectation continues to advance.

In unpacking this anchor standard 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 anchor standard, so let’s begin with defining the language:*

Artistic Criteria:

Aspects of craft and skill used to fulfill artistic intent

Dance Literacy:

The total experience of dance learning that includes the doing and knowing about dance: dance skills and techniques, dance making, knowledge and understanding of dance vocabulary, dance history, dance from different cultures, dance genres, repertory, performers and choreographers, dance companies, and dance notation and preservation


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

Movement Characteristics: 

The qualities, elements, or dynamics that describe or define a movement


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)

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

This week’s lesson can be modified for all grades K-12 by changing the expectations of response.

Lesson Plan


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


Foundations of Dance

Established Goals:

a. Analyze and discuss dances from selected genres or styles and/or historical time periods, and formulate reasons for the similarities and differences between them in relation to the ideas and perspectives of the peoples from which the dances originate

Enduring Understanding:

Dance literacy includes deep knowledge and perspectives about societal, cultural, historical, and community contexts.

Essential Question:

How does knowing about societal, cultural, historical, and community experiences expand dance literacy?

Objectives: Students will

  • analyze specifics of dance based on genre/style
  • determine appropriate criteria for evaluating dance
  • View multiple pieces from the foundations of dance including historical, cultural, theatrical, and social dance
  • Research the history of a specific foundational dance
  • Recreate a piece
  • Present the piece and the history to the class

Learning Activities

  1. Present background information on the foundations of dance: historical, cultural, theatrical, and social.  Gayle Kassing’s History of Dance: an interactive arts approach offers a wonderful comprehensive look at these various foundations and includes a DVD of samples. To connect more directly to your specific students, utilize their cultures as well as their pop music and local dance scene to share the foundations of cultural and social dance.  Consider composing a power point to introduce the background of these foundations and have students compose notes to follow the presentation.  Design the presentation with your students in mind by highlighting their personal cultures and favorite pop culture social dance and music, also consider what videos you have access to as you will want to present visual samples of the different foundations.
    Note-taking strategies
    Sample Foundations PowerPoint
  2. Separate students into groups of 2-3 and have them complete the following tasks:
    1. Select 2 foundations to focus on: for example, cultural and theatrical or historical and social
    2. Choose a subcategory of the foundations selected: for example, cultural (Domincan) and theatrical (ballet)
    3. Continue to focus the study by choosing specific movement/pieces that fall into each subcategory: for example, Cultural~Dominican~Soka and Theatrical~Ballet~Swan Lake
    4. Complete a more comprehensive search of the history and background of the selected movement/piece
    5. Build a presentation utilizing a medium of your choice (poster, powerpoint, prezi, etc.).  The presentation should include a more focused discussion of the background of the selected movement/piece.  What specifically is included is up to teacher discretion, you can require location, number of participants, music, purpose, original dates/dancers etc.
    6. Identify a specific piece or section of a piece to learn.
    7. Learn 1-2 minutes of the selected choreography.
    8. Determine the ways in which the two pieces are connected, and add to the presentation.
  3.  Have students present by first discussing the background of the foundation.  Next, perform the section of movement.  Finally, discuss the natural connections between the pieces.
  4. As students are watching, they should be completing two tasks:
    1. Utilizing ARTISTIC critique to evaluate the recreations.  Since it is not a full recreation, nor an original piece, focus on A-R-T of the critique.
    2. Second, have them write down further questions for research on an index card.  At the culmination of the presentation, have the presenters collect the cards and respond to them.  Have them return the cards with answers, after you have evaluated the question and answer.

Assessment Rubric

Foundations Rubric, National Standard Anchor, Education Closet

This lesson can be altered to be accessible for younger students as well.  This concludes our 11 month series on the national standards.  See all 11 samples here:Unpacking the National Dance Standards
Anchor Standard 1Anchor Standard 2
Anchor Standard 3
Anchor Standard 4
Anchor Standard 5
Anchor Standard 6
Anchor Standard 7
Anchor Standard 8
Anchor Standard 9
Anchor Standard 10

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.