Middle School

Curriculum

Dance

Dance Mission Statement
The Middle School Dance program at Dalton approaches dance as an intellectual and creative art form that is concerned with the expression and communication of ideas in an academic environment. With the physical body as the means to experiential learning, our program utilizes a variety of classical, post-modern and contemporary dance traditions to support individual learning styles, interests and abilities. Our dance faculty encourages the development of a unique creative voice, expressive power, perception, collaboration, and physical sophistication in a supportive environment. Class assignments and projects are oriented around the Dalton tradition of community building, by inviting and oftentimes incorporating the entire student body to witness or participate in the joyous powers of dance.
Content Description
Fourth Grade Dance (One Trimester)

Fourth grade students discover new aspects of themselves, build strong bodies, and work collaboratively as members of a creative and physically expressive community. They acquire increased body awareness and a stronger sense of self in space, improved gross motor skill and coordination, greater impulse control and more balanced expressive/receptive ability. Emphasis is on full-bodied physicality, working together, and discovering the joy of movement.
 
Journey Dance: This culminating assignment requires students to synthesize movement concepts and dance vocabulary explored throughout the trimester as they integrate their learning with the grade wide study of immigration. Students create improvisational structures and original dance phrases, which they infuse with intention and meaning as they imagine the immigrant's’ journey to the new land through movement. 


Fifth Grade Dance (One Trimester)

Fifth grade dance classes are single sex and meet three times a week for a trimester. Each day begins with a warm up to prepare students for a high energy and athletic dance class with a focus on: coordination, rhythm, cart-wheels, core strengthening, across-the-floor jumps and basic dance combinations. Students are encouraged to build upon fourth grade investigations by integrating poetry, storyboarding and storytelling with movement principles. Students are given in- class assignments to ignite the imaginative process and stimulate a kinesthetic response. Compositional tools are introduced, and students are asked to create dances daily. They are also taught to dialogue constructively about the dances made in class.

Sixth Grade Dance and Greek Festival Dance--Gendered Classes

Boys Class

Sixth grade boy’s dance meets twice a week for a trimester. In this course, boys are challenged to develop a more sophisticated and mature approach to movement, incorporating compositional tools and storytelling while deepening their understanding of classroom etiquette. Each class begins with an energetic collection of coordination exercises followed by dance phrases that moves across the floor. Improvisation games follow the warm up and compliment the daily compositional assignment, executed in either as a solo or with a group. Composition assignments are designed to help students develop a unique creative voice. Additional classroom activities explore physical concepts such as weight-sharing and partnering in an upbeat and joyful environment.

Girls Class

Sixth grade girls dance meets twice a week for a trimester. Students experience a beginner technique and composition class, furthering the skills they have acquired in fourth and fifth grades. The curriculum encourages physical expression, creativity, and cooperation while raising each student’s awareness of their potential as a full-bodied mover. Students learn the progression of a technique class from warm-up, starting on the floor and experiencing grounded centers, weight, and alignment, to floor combinations and larger movement phrases. Students participate in movement games, accumulation structures, and compositional tasks so that they may begin to generate their own dances and find their own dance voice.

Greek Festival Dance

During the winter session of Sixth Grade Dance, in addition to the general dance curriculum, students work towards the creation of the Greek Festival Dance performance. The Greek Festival Dance performance is a collaborative process with the teachers where students learn from start to finish how to prepare, rehearse, and perform a piece of dance choreography.  NOTE: Students who express interest in participating in Greek Festival Dance sign up in House in the spring of fifth grade and are entered in the Greek Festival Lottery. Names in the lottery are chosen at random “out-of-the-hat” in the dance office by the dance faculty. Students are notified at the end of fifth grade year.

7/8 Grade - DanceWave Project

The seventh and eighth grade curriculum offers a wide variety of dance techniques and creative experiences to enable the development of students' functional and expressive movement potential. The class is designed to facilitate technical ability by increasing body awareness and organization, strength, flexibility, coordination and rhythm. A range of dance styles, including modern, hip-hop and African dance, are introduced throughout the year, with an emphasis on increasing students’ movement vocabulary. The creative aspect of this class integrates phrasing, improvisation, composition, and performance. Individual expression takes on a deeper meaning as students begin to grapple with issues of self, identity, and relationships, issues often reflected in their dance making. Our curriculum provides opportunities for students to bring their diverse backgrounds and individual movement interests into the studio, in order to share with one another in a safe environment of risk taking and mutual respect.

Assignments include creating original movement phrases, manipulating movement material, discovering dynamics, fusing dance styles, reconstructing a dance master’s choreography, analyzing dance videos, and performing in a Flash Mob. This course features a site-specific dance video project called DanceWAVE (Working Artists Video Ensemble) that culminates the year. Students work collaboratively to create an original dance video set in a wide range of locations in and out of the school. Guest artists and class trips to professional dance performances are an integral part of the curriculum. This course provides an excellent foundation for future participation in the High School Dance program.

Dance Skills: Scope and Sequence
4th Grade Dance5th Grade Dance6th Grade Dance7th / 8th Grade Dance
Emphasis is placed on the following dance skills...

Personal and General Space
Levels
Direction in Space
Body Part Initiation
Shapes in the Body (Ball, Pin, Wall, Corksrew, Pyramid)
Use of Space (Direct and Indirect), Time (Sudden and Sustained) and Weight (Strong and Light)
Patterns of Total Body Connectivity
Rhythmic patterns
Call and Response
Building Locomotor Movement Vocabulary
Creating Original Movement Phrases
Navigating Negative/Positive Space
Spoking, Arcing, and Carving 
Partnering: Offering and Using Support
Intention and Clarity

Emphasis is placed on the following dance skills...

Spatial awareness
Arm Strength
Partnering
Counter weight
Coordination Exercises
Rhythm Exercises
Making a Dance -- Composition
Sharing Dances
Speaking about Dances
Stage Directions
Movement Games
Emphasis is placed on the following dance skills...

Beginner Dance Technique
Weight Sharing
Counter Weight
Partnering
Collaboration
Improvisation
Personal Permission (finding your voice through dancing)
Inversions (upper body strength)
Dynamic change
Leaping (acceleration to leap and deceleration to land)
Core Strengthening
Improvisation
Inversions (upper body strength)
Composition
Teamwork
Self Confidence and Awareness
 
Collaborative Composition*
Discussion of Choreography*
Performance Goals*
Performance Energy*
Stage Basics*
 
*Additional Skills in Greek Festival Dance
Emphasis is placed on the following dance skills...

Movement Initiation and Qualities
Core Support and Accommodation
Reach and Counter Reach in the Body
Spatial Intent
Moving in 3 Dimensions
Shaping
Rhythmic Complexity
Dynamics
Sequential, Simultaneous, and Successive Movement
Movement Analysis
Weight Sharing
Improvisation in Solo, Duet, and Group Forms
Learning and Creating Phrases
Phrase Manipulation
Fusing of Dance Styles
Compositional Elements
Site-Specific Dance Making
Ensemble Work
Performance Skills