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Dance at Dover: IGCSE and IB Dance subjects now available

Lucia Cordani, Head of High School Dance, Dover Campus
19 November 2014

IGCSE Dance students at UWCSEA Dover in the classroomWhile the IGCSE Dance subject is in its first year at UWCSEA Dover, and only a handful of other schools in Singapore offer the course at IGCSE or IB Diploma level, Dance has been established as an academic discipline in many other countries for well over a decade.

Students of Dance are required to work creatively, physically and academically. The subject is by its nature very practical—80% of the final assessment is based on practical assessment. Dance students are required to choreograph dance to a high level and engage in workshops that cultivate the craft of choreography through improvising, selecting and refining. This demands that students work hard physically to create original and inspiring choreography that goes against the norm, through the selection of imaginative and challenging movements.

By engaging in the process of choreography, the students are involved with dance by selecting and applying choices constantly during the rehearsal process. These choices are made both independently and by group consensus, meaning that students are also working on their communication, negotiation and decision-making skills through their engagement with the course.

Dance is now offered at IGCSE and IB level at UWCSEA Dover and in the IB Diploma programme on East Campus. 

The IGCSE course lends itself to creating ‘Thinking Dancers and Choreographers’ and there is a written paper that consists of 20% of the final grade. Students are required to analyse professional dance works, subscribed by AQA Exam board, with reference to the constituent features: space and relationships, dynamics, movement, accompaniment and how these show the intention of the dance piece. Students also have to be able to place contemporary dance in historical context by exploring the influence of different practitioners and art movements on current dance practice and styles.

Dance students are also expected to study dance physiology and anatomy, for example the correct placement in plié to avoid injury to knees, and the structure of the main joints. This helps them understand movement, and also to become aware of potential injuries that dancers may encounter. All of the theoretical work feeds directly into practical application.

The current cohort on Dover Campus includes students with strong backgrounds in hip-hop, classical Indian dance and ballet, as well as a number of students with a passion for dance but no previous formal training. Contrary to what some might expect, there is no need for previous study of dance to be a successful IGCSE Dance student. In fact, Dance teacher Lucia Cordani says that some of the most original choreography she has witnessed in the eight years she has been teaching the subject has been devised by students who were not previously trained in a specific style, and therefore in a sense not constrained by that training. What students do need to be successful, is an awareness of their body and its capacity for movement, and a willingness to work hard to make the subject a success.

At a recent ‘dance platform’ at the Dover Campus, our students welcomed IGCSE and IB Dance students from Tanglin Trust School and Overseas Family School in an evening which allowed the students to share ideas and learn from one another. At the event, each school performed an original, 20-minute piece, which was then discussed by the group, giving students a chance to share ideas. The event also allowed our students to gain a greater understanding of the structure and expectations of the course, both at IGCSE and IB Diploma levels.

The Dover Campus High School has a strong performance tradition of dance genres and styles that reflect the international nature of the college community and the dance talents of our students are highlighted each year in the student facilitated productions of UN Night, Safar and the High School student Dance Show. As our Dance students develop as both dancers and choreographers with the introduction of the IGCSE Dance subject, they will no doubt introduce different styles of dance to the already rich variety that is so much a part of the College's identity.