Dance is a popular subject within the St Matthew Academy curriculum. With the help of external agencies, the department exposes children of all ages and abilities to a rich and varied dance education. The department places the individual learner at the heart of the dance experience. Our aim is to develop creativity and technical dance skills in a stimulating, high quality and exciting learning environment.
Working in conjunction with Trinity Laban and the Royal Academy of Dance, we also aim to provide young people with an extensive and exciting extra-curricular dance programme which facilitates a life-long involvement and appreciation of dance.
Lessons take place in a purpose built Dance Studio with specialist mirrors, sound system and dance floor. Children are actively encouraged to participate in performances both in and beyond the school environment. The department works closely alongside other areas of the Performing Arts to produce innovative and highly popular multi-disciplinary productions.
In Year 7, the pupils are introduced to the basic rules and safety considerations needed to participate effectively in a secondary dance lesson. They are encouraged to work cooperatively and creatively to engage in free exploration and expressive movement styles. As they learn, the pupils develop an understanding and application of movement motifs and choreographic devices. Over the course of the year, they learn how to take responsibility for other dancers and how to use contact safely.
Amongst many other starting points for creative dance, the pupils learn to employ the principles of Martial Arts to extend and develop their movement vocabulary. Under close supervision, they learn to focus and strengthen their bodies using a taught, then adapted Karate Kata. Students watch and discuss scenes from The LXD’s ‘Matrix Dance’ before applying the concepts of action/reaction to develop dynamic movement phrases to share with the class.
In their final Unit of Work, the Year 7 dancers explore the key features of Parkour. Pupils develop their understanding of transitions and explore how to travel safely through the dance space. They create exciting phrases, demonstrating ways to travel over, under and around a partner, creating performance work which is then videoed and analysed.
Throughout the year, the pupils are taught how to apply success criteria and analyse and appreciate dance performance and choreography. Moreover, they are encouraged to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their own and others performances.
In Year 8, the pupils explore a variety of stimuli to develop their understanding of contact, counter-tension and counter-balance. Choreographing collaboratively, their work involves creating dances using an array of exciting dance props, including: broom handles, ropes and chairs.
Throughout their learning, the Year 8 dancers extend and refine their movement vocabulary and use a greater range of sophisticated choreographic devices to communicate ideas and intentions. Over time, they develop an appreciation of professional dance works by examining the socio-political issues surrounding Christopher Bruce’s award winning dances ‘Swansong’ and ‘Ghost Dances.’ In small groups they explore the themes of interrogation and social injustice to build dynamic and expressive dances.
Throughout the year, the students are encouraged to adopt the role of lead choreographer. They are taught to use key terminology to reflect upon and analyse complex movement sequences and choreographed phrases. Furthermore, they are guided to share their reflections with the class and suggest ways in which their own and other’s work can be improved
The Year 7 and 8 dance club work with the Royal Academy of Dance to explore a variety of exciting and engaging dance styles including: Contemporary Dance, Capoeira, and Fusion Dance. The extra-curricular dance programme aims to provide opportunities for pupils to grow as choreographers, performers and as stage managers. Upper school dance groups run weekly to explore ideas and prepare for up and coming performances and projects.
Youth Dance England: http://www.yde.org.uk/
Greenwich Dance Agency: http://greenwichdance.org.uk/engage/coursesandclasses/P10/
BBC Young Dancer 2017: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wt48l
BBC Bitesize: http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/subjects/zg9jtfr
Step Into Dance (Royal Academy of Dance): http://www.stepintodance.org/
Extract of ‘Swansong’ by Christopher Bruce: https://www.youtube.com/watch v=038BdfaaVVs
Swansong (Rambert Dance): http://www.rambert.org.uk/performances/swansong/swansongpowerpoint