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Benefits of GCSE Dance?


Gingerbread
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My DD is about to choose her options for GCSE's, being now in year 9 at a non-vocational school. She dances outside of school though and is currently working on Grade 6 RAD and RAD Intermediate. Presumably she will continue to Advanced 1 RAD in the future, assuming her interest continues!

 

She really wants to on top of this do GCSE dance. If she chooses this, she won't have enough options left to do everything else she would benefit from studying at GCSE, plus my feeling is that she already does enough dancing and won't necessarily gain much from GCSE dance.

 

However I could be wrong and I would love to hear anyone else's opinion or experience. Any advice gratefully accepted!

 

Gingerbread

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GCSE Dance wasn't an option at my school, but I did A Level Performance Studies, so I'll speak from that experience.

 

In my experience, studying dance at school doesn't only mean doing more dancing - a big part of the course is made up of studying dance from a critical/analytical point of view, the same way you study literature. So you learn about the history of different styles, and the historical/cultural/political context in which the piece was originally made. We focused on Christopher Bruce for AS Level, and Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake for A Level but were expected to learn about other styles and companies as well, and to be able to write about these productions in essays. Personally, I think writing an essay about a dance piece has as much value as writing an essay about a book or a short story - you are using the same analytical, critical and writing skills.

 

Added to that, studying something you're really interested in always (for me anyway!) leads to more engagement and motivation, and therefore better results.

 

Edited to add: also, team work! Lots and lots of team work, and being self-motivated to rehearse things when it means giving up a lunchtime, and being organised when you have to work as a group in your spare time to choreograph something - all good things in this employability-focused day and age.

 

That's my opinion anyway :)

Edited by JaneL
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JaneL is right - it's not so much about doing dance, it's more about choreography & reviewing dancing - which is exactly what my vocationally trained son hated about it :rolleyes: . He just wants to dance (ballet) - he really, really doesn't care about anything else.

 

However, if your daughter is interested in teaching, or performing generally, GCSE dance would be a great option for her (it's good to do subjects you really enjoy at GCSE if you can), however, as a parent of two other "academic" children, I would have discouraged them from doing dance GCSE if it meant missing out on other important subjects at school (my daughter didn't want to do it despite doing a lot of dancing outside of school - she also loves to dance, but hates choreography and writing reviews, learning about the history - I must've done something wrong...).

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My DS also hated it, like Julie's DS he only wants to dance and he found the style of dance for GCSE also different. When choosing from a very limited AS options he refused point blank to do Dance.

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My Dd is doing GCSE dance early (she's in Yr 8) as a twilight course at a nearby school. For me this is the best of both worlds because she's enjoying the course and it's an extra GCSE that she can get out of the way before she starts all her others.

 

I must say that if she wasn't doing it early I would have had reservations about her doing it in year 11, mostly because they have to take three languages at her school so I think her actual "choices" are going to be limited. For us it was a case of doing it early or not at all.

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Same as above - my DD started it in year 8 at her ballet school and will finish it in a few months. She did it as a bit of an optional extra to get one under her belt as the opportunity was there. It is defo more about choreography and reviewing other works than dance - no ballet whatsoever (DD very ballet orientated) but she has enjoyed the opportunity to work with her friends on the dance pieces and it has been a nice way to ease her into the GCSE way of thinking.

F x

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My dd is currently doing this and really enjoys it. It makes the dancer think about every aspect of dance; the rythm, the mood, the choreography, the body movements and the use of different instruments to evoke different reponses in the audience. They are also learning about nutrition for and strength in the dancer (not just ballet dancers!)

Talking to her about it, she says some people see this as an 'easy' option but in fact there is a lot to think about and get right....she is currently doing partner work and this makes them both aware of how each other moves, thinks etc. She will take this a year early in year 10 but is really enjoying it.

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thank you everyone for all your replies! Definitely lots of valuable information! Not least that GCSE dance is not all practical, and that reviewing/choreography/theory comes into it quite a bit. Sounds very, very interesting..... to me, that is. Unfortunately DD is rather like JulieW's and KathyG's DSs - only wants to DO dance, not talk, write or even watch it very much (actually I'm doing her a disservice... if a dance documentary comes on TV she will watch for a bit, but then gets up and starts DOING).

 

She's already in year 9 so taking it early isn't possible - and I don't think the school do that. She's not academic, particularly, and is keen to also do drama, food & tech (I think that's what they call cookery these days) and textiles. I think drama and textiles too would complement her dance training that she does outside of school. Whether or not she also does Dance GCSE now remains to be seen but she will have to decide pretty soon! I am going to ask the school exactly how much of it is practical and how much is theoretical. :)

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My DD was offered the chance to do Dance GCSE as an after-school extra option as her school does not offer it but another local school does. After speaking to her dance and academic teachers she chose not to. This was on the advice that RAD Grade 6,7,8 and Inter-Foundation and Intermediate all qualify for UCAS points and so actually rate as an 'A' level rather than a GCSE. Vocational schools for 6th form obviously look more to these grades and so would a university. Instead she chose options like drama and textiles which she felt would complement her dance training and has no regrets. If your DD likes the sound and content of the Dance GCSE more than that of another subject, then she is bound to be more successful in a subject she enjoys but if in part she thinks she ought to choose Dance because she is a 'dancer', make sure she does consider all her options as not doing Dance GCSE is not likely to hold her back in a dancing career.

 

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My brother is now on the West End (he got a full scholarship at 16 to The Laine's Performing arts) and he did GCSE PE and used his dancing so I know he would have picked GCSE dance if he could've at the time. Whislt not particularly academic this gave him the chance to get a solid GCSE and it obviously didn't do him any harm!! If she wants to do specific A' levels then it might hamper if not what they are looking for but it depends what she wants to do. Obviously my brother wanted a set career but he did some lovely ballet choreography on his GCSE PE.

 

When I say not particularly academic I mean he wasn't not neccesarily the course!

Edited by eloise_please
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