NCEA Dance study guide for NZ Dance curriculum image from text of four dancers.

A special resource for New Zealand's NCEA dance teachers and students

Sally Mangai

LearnWell has been pleased to work with the Dance Subject Association of New Zealand (DSANZ) over recent years.  The most significant outcome of this relationship has been to produce a study guide for use by dance teachers throughout the country.  We are proud to have published this resource, the first of its kind in Aotearoa. 

Taking Dance as a subject has many benefits for students. Dance allows students to tackle complex and emotional issues and express themselves through movement. Through dance, students learn discipline and focus as well as creativity and performance.  While learning about their bodies and how they can move, Dance students can gain confidence and self-esteem.

We recently chatted with Melanie (one of the Dance Study Guide's authors) and Ryan from DSANZ about the resource and the amazing way DSANZ has worked to place the resource in the hands of as many learners as possible.

Ryan Timoko-Benjamin is the chairperson of the Dance Subject Association of New Zealand. He gained funding for DSANZ as a Network of Expertise from the Ministry of Education. Ryan works with the DSANZ committee to decide how funds are allocated.

Melanie Turner is the Administrator for DSANZ and undertakes projects to support dance education in schools, with DSANZ and beyond. One of those projects is sharing the Dance Study Guide with more schools.

Can you tell us a bit about the Dance Study Guide?  In your experience, how has it been used?

The NCEA Dance Study Guide is the only text that specifically targets senior secondary school dance in New Zealand.

Some teachers and students follow the units and activities exactly as they are presented in the book.  Others dip in and out of selected pages to suit their programme and school.

The resource is used for NCEA Dance exams at Levels 1 and 2 to study Coventry Carol, an excerpt from Rotunda by Shona McCullagh and the New Zealand Dance Company.

The resource was really valuable when classroom learning was disrupted by Covid. Students could use the online videos to learn dance sequences at home which they performed, recorded and submitted for assessment. Tips for learning from video, technique and performance skills guided independent rehearsal.

What sort of benefits do you think the resource offers to schools, to teachers and to dance students?

A wonderful part of the Dance Study Guide is the Elements of Dance chapters. These comprehensive detailed sections enable learners to take a deep dive into the ‘building blocks’, the foundation, of Dance. Teachers can select activities for students in years 8-13. The Dance Elements chapters are particularly important for the revised Level 1 Dance Standard 91939 coming into use in 2024.

The Dance Study Guide reduces teacher workload by providing ready resources, definitions, and activities for dance students. It supports student ownership of learning and promotes cooperative learning.

The resource enables schools which don’t yet offer dance, such as area

schools, to cater for individual student interest and ability. The resource provides learning and activities for a full year course which motivated learners can use to self-guide through a Level 1 Dance programme.

How did the Association decide to fund sending this resource to some schools?  Which schools did you choose and how did this play out?

NCEA Dance study guide for NZ Dance curriculum image from text of four dancers.

DSANZ feels the learning in the Dance Study Guide is so important and valuable, it should be in every junior and senior high school across Aotearoa. DSANZ works to support dance education in schools, so it decided to fund the resource into all decile 1-3 schools as a start. Class sets went to decile 1 schools which offered dance and didn’t already have them.

What an amazing initiative.  What sort of feedback have you had about the initiative and the resource itself?

Teachers often call the Dance Study Guide their ‘go-to’ dance resource, their ‘bible’.  For DSANZ contractors also in the classroom, it is never far from our hands.

‘A very big thank you for class set of textbooks we received. My department is very appreciative of them, thank you very much!’       

Livia-Kate Pearce, Ōtāhuhu College

Do you have any other plans for the resource in the future?

The Dance Study Guide continues to form a basis of professional learning for teachers. DSANZ is working towards an updated online version of the dance elements from the resource in the future.

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