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.
The Dance department offers both GCSE and BTEC dance courses to suit the strengths and interests of our learners. Both courses explore the physical and technical demands of being a dancer, the creative aspects of choreography and analysis of professional works.
Within GCSE Dance students develop an understanding of dance technique, choreography and dance appreciation. The syllabus includes creating your own dance work, performing two short technical phrases, performing developed work as part of a group ensemble and a written examination. For the written examination students explore six contrasting professional dance works to deepen their understanding of dance as an art form. Assessment is 60% practical and 40% theory.
BTEC Dance offers students the opportunity to explore Dance as part of the Performing Arts industry. Students will develop an understanding of technique in contrasting styles, choreography, performance and dance analysis. The syllabus includes creating dance works, performing repertoire, training as a dancer through workshops and technique classes and analysing three contrasting professional dance works. Practical and theory is linked together through use of logbooks, presentations and reports.
Both qualifications allow students to build their understanding of dance, develop critical analysis skills and grow as a performer and artist. The courses prepare learners for further progression in Dance and the Performing Arts; students who have completed these qualifications have successfully gained places at The BRIT School, Kingston College and LABAN.
The department offers a range of extracurricular activities and opportunities as further development and study support sessions/rehearsal spaces.
Dance at Brakenhale
At KS5 students study a BTEC Level 3 National Certificate in Performing Arts specialising in Dance. This course helps to prepare learners for further progression in Dance or the Performing Arts. Students complete four units focusing on developing skills and techniques for performance, investigating practitioners work, contemporary dance technique and group performance. Units are reviewed each year taking students’ strengths, interests and aspirations into account so the best possible course can be provided. The course explores a range of dance styles and techniques, provides opportunities to perform and work creatively. Students work practically developing their theoretical knowledge and complete written reports, presentations and logbooks to support their learning and as part of their assessments.
Throughout the two years the class will work together as a professional dance company building a repertoire of performance work and participating in workshops and projects. Students will have space to explore their own interests and opportunities to gain experience as performers, teachers and choreographers. Students who have completed this course have continued to study dance vocationally at Creative Academy, READ College, Laban, Chichester University and Italia Conti.
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 students’ 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.’ Luke Brown