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Dance Making 1

  • Module code: DC4003
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 4
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None


This is a core module for all level four students. It is the first in a series of three modules designed to improve students’ critical appreciation and creative dance making skills. In these sessions students will learn new choreographic techniques from a variety of performance disciplines. Students will also learn how to draw upon, frame, develop and appraise their existing creative skills. Students will develop collaborative skills and learn how to critically appraise their work and the work of others. 


  • Introduce students to a variety of dance making structures and strategies and apply these creatively within dance performance
  • Develop students’ skills and confidence in dance making including improvisation
  • Develop students’ ability to express ideas through movement and dance
  • Develop understanding of choreographic principles through practice, critical reflection upon and evaluation of their own choreographies and those of others

Learning outcomes

  • Employ dance making structures and strategies in dance performance
  • Apply a range of choreographic tools in the interpretation of abstract and concrete ideas through movement and dance to create and develop dance studies on their own bodies
  • Demonstrate understanding of choreographic principles through critical reflection upon and evaluation of their own and others’ choreographies including the work of professional choreographers/dance makers

Curriculum content

  • Physical ‘listening’ and response
  • Practical explorations of physical and kinetic interrelationships, eg, mirroring, following, developing, opposing
  • Using visual, physical, spatial, emotional and sensory imagery as improvisational stimulus
  • Extensions of contact improvisation techniques, eg, point, roll, slide, exchange of weight, lifts, balances
  • Exploring aspects of their own identity through personal movement language and style (starting points might include images, words or objects expressive of the student’s sense of her/his identity, situations provoking particular physical responses, memories etc)
  • Creating ‘dialogues’ between their own choreographies and those of others
  • Responding to ideas, themes, images and objects from beyond the self (suggested by the tutor, might include movement-based ideas such as freedom and constriction; abstract ideas such as ‘the colour blue’; concrete items such as a prop or piece of furniture)

 They extend and shape their choreographies through:

  • Employing choreographic tools such as the manipulation of time, space and force; theme and variation; the dynamic arc
  • Converting a solo to a duet (hence employing further tools such as unison, canon, opposition, contradiction, exchange of weight)
  • Critical reflection upon their own and each others’ choreographies
  • Discussion of the similar and differing criteria for success across different dance genre, for example, popular and contemporary dance.
  • Further understanding of choreographic principles is gained through watching and discussing relevant examples of professional choreographies from a range of dance genre (eg. Nilima Devi, Russell Maliphant, Wayne MacGregor, Jonzi D, George Balanchine, Darren Dewitt Henson, Wade Robson, JaQuel Knight, Arlene Philips, Laurieann Gibson, Brian Friedman).

Teaching and learning strategy

The teaching for this module front-loaded and delivered in a weekly 3 hour session. As this module aims to develop practical, creative and critical evaluation skills, it is delivered through a combination of workshops and seminars. At the mid-point of the second teaching block, students will be engage in guided independent study. This will allow tutors to give tailored feedback relevant to students’ individual needs. 

In order to build students skills and confidence, in the early stages of the module improvisational and creative dance making tasks set will be brief and tightly structured. As the module progresses students will be set longer and more creatively open tasks. In the classes leading up to a formative creative assessment at the end of Teaching Block 1, they will practice employing the strategies they have learned in sustained performance contexts and formative self and peer assessment will be used to aid them in recognising their strengths and weaknesses. 

The strategies developed will feed-forwards and inform their preparation for the summative choreographic assessment. The viewing and subsequent evaluation of existing professional choreographies and those produced by students, will form an integral part of the learning and teaching strategy. 

The formative and summative assessments for this module will particularly develop the following key skills: Self Awareness: 1) Take responsibility for own learning and plan for and record own personal development, 2) Organise self effectively, agreeing and setting realistic targets, accessing support where appropriate and managing time to achieve and recognise own academic strengths and weaknesses, reflect on performance and progress and respond to feedback, 3) Work effectively with limited supervision in unfamiliar contexts. Interpersonal: 1) Work well with others in a group or team. 2) Work flexibly and respond to change. 3) Give, accept and respond to constructive feedback Communication: 1) Actively listen and respond appropriately to ideas of others

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Workshop 62
Scheduled learning and teaching Seminar 10
Guided independent study Independent Study and tutorials 206
Scheduled learning and teaching Technique Class 22
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Formative assessment is an important part of this module as students develop their ability to explain and evaluate their own work and that of others. At the end of each block of creative work, therefore, students will participate in informal ‘sharings’ in which they watch each other’s choreographies and participate in self and peer assessment. One of the informal sharings will constitute a formative assessment and part of the confidence building process. This will test skills in employing strategies for creating and dance performance over time, and responding sensitively and appropriately to others in a group context. During this assessment students will employ strategies and devices they have learned.

For the summative assessment, students will choreograph a performance piece of up to 6 minutes of material inspired by their "works-in-progress" from earlier in the module. These might include solos or duets from the material they have created during the module.

A creative diary will be kept throughout the year, which will include strategies used in the creation of their work and choreographic techniques and devices of established practitioners. It will be used to construct a supporting critical reflection (1200 words) for the practical coursework. 

To demonstrate students knowledge and understanding of professional practice students will write a review of a professional piece of chorography discussing dance making principles, structures and strategies used by the choreographer/s.  This forms a diagnostic assessment as part of students’ induction to the BA(Hons) Dance course. 


Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Employ dance making structures and strategies in dance performance Group Improvisation (formative)Short choreography and Essay
Apply a range of choreographic tools in the interpretation of abstract and concrete ideas through movement and dance to create and develop dance studies on their own bodies Short choreography and Essay
Demonstrate understanding of choreographic principles through critical reflection upon and evaluation of their own and others’ choreographies including the work of professional choreographers / dance makers Review Short choreography and Essay

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
PRC Short Choreography 60
CWK Essay 20
CWK Review 20
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Cooper-Albright A (2003), Taken by Surprise: A Dance Improvisation Reader,Middletown CT: Wesleyan University Press

Sofras, Pamela Anderson (2006) Dance Composition Basics. London: Dance Books

Bibliography recommended reading

Atler  J (1994) Movement Improvisation: In the Words of a Teacher and Her Students, Leeds: Human Kinetics Europe Ltd

Blom, Lynne (2004) The Intimate Act of Choreography, London: Dance Books

Blom  L A (1996) The Moment of Movement: Dance Improvisation, Pittsburgh PA: University of Pittsburgh Press

Alexander, Elena (1998) Footnotes, six choreographers inscribe the page, London:Dance Books

Goldman, Ellen (1994) As Others See Us: body movement and the art of successful communication. London: Dance Books

Hutera D (2004) The Rough Guide to Choreography, New York NY: Rough Guides Ltd

Lavender L (1996) Dancers Talking Dance: Critical Evaluation in the Choreography Class, Leeds:Human Kinetics Europe Ltd

Smith-Autard, Jacqueline (2004), Dance Composition, London: A & C Black

Smith-Autard, Jacqueline (2004), Dance Composition, London: A & C Black

Tufnell M (2003) Body Space Image London: Dance Books 

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