The Dance Department at Brakenhale believe in building an inclusive, supportive and creative environment for dance at all levels. We are committed to providing an exciting and challenging curriculum that supports students in achieving their full potential in dance. We offer a range of extracurricular activities and opportunities, workshops from outside dance companies and practitioners and theatre trips and visits. There are several performance opportunities throughout the year including the end of term dance shows that are open for parents and friends to come and support.
The Dance Department is very proud to be in partnership with Berkshire County Dance Company Youth (BCDCY) and Luke Brown Dance. This partnership allows our students access to the best possible opportunities for dance in the local area and wider links to the industry. This includes performance opportunities alongside professional dance artists, audition support in preparation for BCDCY and further education in dance.
At key stage 3 students are introduced to dance performance and choreographic skills. They participate in one hour of dance every two weeks and work towards a variety of contrasting performance projects. Year 7 explore several themes such as playgrounds, influenced by Shaun Parker’s ‘SPILL’; they focus on movement actions, formations and using devices such as cannon. As the year progresses they develop their work to use dynamics and space exploring the topics of graffiti and machinery. Year 8 learn how to lift and support each other safely through contact improvisation and lift workshops, they create group works focusing on relationships within dance allowing them to start structuring their works as choreographers. They focus on expanding their understanding of what dance is; exploring cultural differences through Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s work ‘Sutra’ and different genres including musical theatre/jazz as a contrasting style of dance. Year 9 build upon this knowledge through use of narrative and characterisation; exploring Christopher Bruce’s ‘Swansong’ allows them to bring moral and political issues into their works. They will explore a variety of current contemporary choreographer’s movement material in a series of small projects allowing them to develop their ideas and understand different choreographic processes and influences. The year ends with a final group project allowing students to recreate a music video of their choice; students set their own production roles and responsibilities allowing them to explore their individual interests.
Each year students are encouraged to participate in extra curricular workshops with visiting professionals and performance opportunities. They can rehearse their class work or create new work at break times and join in with different projects during lunch and after school including creating contemporary dance works and street dance.
Within GCSE Dance students develop an understanding of Contemporary technique, choreographic principles and dance appreciation. The syllabus includes creating solo and group work, performing a set study, performing as part of a group ensemble and a written examination. Students have five hours of dance over a two week period and a range of extracurricular activities as further support and development. The qualification allows them to build their understanding of dance, develop critical analysis skills and grow as a performer and dance artist. Students who have completed this qualification have continued to study dance full time, successfully gaining places at The BRIT School and Kingston College.
The curriculum at KS5 changes based on the student group, each year their strengths and requirements are taken into account helping to design the best programme for them as individuals. The BTEC level 3 qualification helps to prepare them for further progression in dance or performing arts. Usually the curriculum focuses on Contemporary and Jazz techniques, as well as Choreography and a range of performance units allowing the course to be practically focused. Within this students can explore their individual areas of interest; this can include external performances, alternative techniques such as ballet or tap or gaining experience as a teacher. The class work together as a professional dance company building a repertoire of performance work created by their teacher, themselves as a collective company and through outside practitioners. Students who have completed this course have continued to study dance vocationally at Creative Academy. For entry 2016 there is the option to study dance as a double option at KS5.
Dance in Action
‘Working with the Brakenhale Dance department and its exceptionally highly motivated students has been a rewarding experience. Never before have I been involved with a teaching faculty so passionate for the pupils dance education. The dance department are an asset to Brakenhale; a department I will continue to support in my choreographic career. It is very evident that Head of Dance, Miss Haley, is successfully facilitating a well devised programme helping to train a new generation of dancing excellence.’