What is GCSE dance?

Dance GCSE has been running for the last eight years and has always enjoyed fantastic results. It is an exciting, interactive course that enables students to explore and analyse a range of dance styles, create their own choreographies and develop their skills as performers. At Richmond Park Academy we run GCSE dance as an extra subject after school from 3.15pm - 5.00pm each week. In the year 2017/18, we are taking a break from the GCSE course due to the subject lead being on maternity leave.

Dance GCSE is taught by Ms B Wardlaw and an external professional choreographer. Anne-Marie Smalldon is the Artistic Director of Combination Dance who joins us for choreographic workshops and arranges fabulous opportunities outside the academy for students. You can find out more about Combination Dance by clicking here.


Ms Wardlaw - Subject Leader
Chloe Binnington

How does the GCSE breakdown?

The GCSE syllabus is predominantly coursework which is 80% of the marks. The written exam is worth 20% of the final GCSE grade.

Unit 1: Critical Appreciation of Dance
Written Paper – 1 hour (50 marks – 20%)

Unit 2: Set Dance
Practical Examination Solo Performance – 1–1½ minutes (30 marks – 20%)

Unit 3: Performance in a duo/group dance 3–3½ minutes (30 marks – 20%)

Unit 4: Choreography
Task A: Solo Composition 1–1½ minutes (20 marks – 15%)
Task B: Choreography – solo/duo/group (40 marks – 25%)

What sort of trips and performance opportunities are there?

Students take part in performances at the Royal Ballet School and other
site-specific events. Visits to the Theatre are at least twice a year and we regularly have guest artists in to do workshops. Students enjoy participating in school events such as concerts and open days which take place regularly in the academic year.

At Richmond Park Academy we pride ourselves in giving students as many extracurricular experiences as possible. Trips over the past two academic years include:
  • Mathew Bourne’s ‘Swan Lake’ at the New Wimbledon Theatre
  • Trips to Sadler’s Wells to see ‘Blayze’, Matthew Bourne’s ‘Edward Scissorhands’, Matthew Bourne’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ and ‘Cirque Eloise’
  • Trip to The Royal Ballet School White Lodge to watch aspiring dancers have lessons
  • Trip to Pineapple Studios for private dance workshop in street dance
  • Trip to The Royal Festival Hall to watch the Philharmonia Orchestra perform Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’
Performances and events over recent years:
  • Winter Concert: Performances in the annual Winter Concert in December involved all RPA dancers.
  • Annual performances at RichDance Festival.
  • School musical: ‘Hairspray’ was our 2017 production.
  • Dance GCSE Showcase: RPA dancers perform their choreographies and set dances
  • Richmond Park Academy was picked as one of two schools in London to work alongside the Royal Ballet School in a unique and exciting dance project working with an established choreographer, professional dancers and Royal Ballet School students in Year 10. Over a period of five months students from RPA took part in; 12 workshops (with esteemed choreographer Bim Malcomson), a trip to see their accompanying orchestra perform (the Philharmonia Orchestra), a performance at The Royal Ballet School White Lodge and the première of the film version of the project at The Royal Festival Hall. Please find links to the project below:
The Firebird Project: Documentary
The Firebird Project: Performance Film

Do I have to be a good dancer already?

It’s great if you have trained in dance before and take classes, but the most important thing is that you are really interested in the subject as a lot of the preparation and coursework is reliant on exploring and developing your dance ideas.

What do I have to wear?

Dance GCSE has a uniform that is worn in every practical lesson. This consists of Leggings (no baggy clothing) and a tight fitted top. No jewellery is worn (in conjunction with the school policy). Students are encouraged to buy classical dance shoes, but much of the practical work is performed in bare feet.

What can I do to ensure that I get the best result?

Because the course is heavily coursework, very good attendance is imperative. Students must organise practising in their own time for group work. We urge students to get into healthy fitness routines (especially additional dance classes) outside of school to improve their physical strength and therefore dance technique. Eating healthily also ensures that dancers are ready to learn and have the energy to dance.

Are there any resources or websites that could improve my result?

There are loads of dance websites on the Internet that can be useful to help with theory and programme notes. For specific resources linked to the AQA syllabus that we study please see below.

A detailed study guide to the GCSE is AQA GCSE Performing Arts: Dance by Pam Howard:

For the AQA GCSE Performing Arts: Dance specification:

For practise/past AQA GCSE Performing Arts: Dance exam papers:

External Clubs

Richmond Youth Dance offers a class for 13-22 year olds to join. Click here to see more details.