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The course focuses on the composition, performance and analysis of dance, or “expressive movement,” which is practised amongst peoples of various backgrounds, and for a variety of purposes, throughout the world.

Students create, participate in, and reflect upon dance forms and styles from a range of cultures and traditions, both familiar and unfamiliar.

The recommended teaching times—150 hours (SL) and 240 hours (HL)—indicate a clear distinction between the time allowed for the completion of course assignments at SL and at HL. This differentiation between the two levels is reflected in both the breadth and depth of study. 

The aims and assessment objectives are the same at both SL and HL, with additional assessment objectives at HL. The assessment criteria for SL and HL are related, with additional requirements at HL.

In the teaching of the dance course it should be possible to have groups of students that include both SL and HL students. Through a variety of teaching approaches, all students—whether SL or HL—will be encouraged to develop their creative and critical abilities and to enhance their appreciation and enjoyment of dance.

Dance syllabus outline

Syllabus component Suggested teaching hours

Composition and analysis
The development of the creative aspect of making dances
Composing original work

60 90

World dance studies
The development of a comparative knowledge of several dance styles from more than one culture and/or tradition

  • Exploring dances, gaining both a physical and theoretical understanding
  • Individual investigation
30 60

The development of an understanding of and facility in performing dances

  • Movement skills appropriate to the dancer’s performance
  • Clarity in relationship to space, time, dynamics and movement qualities appropriate to the work
  • Communicative expression in relation to other performers and to the audience
60 90
Total teaching hours 150 240

Key features of the curriculum and assessment models

  • Available at standard (SL) and higher levels (HL)
  • The minimum prescribed number of hours is 150 for SL and 240 for HL
  • Students are assessed both externally and internally
  • External assessment consists of a) the submission (on DVD) of dance works composed by the student, and b) a formal written report which analyses the similarities and differences between two dance styles drawn from different dance cultures and/or traditions
  • Internal assessment consists of the submission (on DVD) of the student’s performance of various styles of dances, presented at an open showing.

Learn more about dance in a DP workshop for teachers

Dance subject brief

Subject briefs are short two-page documents providing an outline of the course. Read the standard level (SL) and/or higher level (HL) subject brief below. 


Dance SL (PDF, 36 KB) pdf

Dance HL (PDF, 36 KB) pdf