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Gifted Dance Education Program Overview

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Dance Information

Program Mission

The mission of the Gifted Dance Education Program of Old Donation Center is to nurture the full development of each student’s dance potential through intense involvement in every aspect of the art. The Gifted Dance Education Program provides differentiated instruction, which addresses the specific learning styles of the artistically gifted student.

Program Overview

All third through eighth grade students identified as gifted in dance have the option to participate in the Gifted Dance Education Program housed at Old Donation Center. Students receive instruction in thematic units designed and presented by a teaching staff certified by the Virginia Department of Education in Dance and in Gifted Education. The principal of Old Donation Center in cooperation with the Office of Gifted Education and Academy Programs administers the program.

Students are grouped according to individual ability, developmental stage, degree of maturity, and progress within the program. Grouping is flexible, enabling students to move to a more suitable level as deemed appropriate by the dance instructors.

The Gifted Dance Education Program emphasizes commitment, responsibility, self-motivation, artistry and pride in personal achievement. 

The Gifted Dance Education Program’s curriculum has been developed into three strands.  These strands are:

The Technique Strand – emphasizing dance skills and physical development.  Included in this strand is technical training in ballet, modern dance, jazz and performance skills. Also important to this strand is the knowledge and application of information related to movement, such as the use of the vocabularies of dance (dance elements, principles of design, anatomical vocabulary, Language of Dance® vocabulary, dance technique terminology and general dance terms).

The Creative Strand – emphasizing development of divergent approaches towards expressing ideas and feelings through movement and examining connections, possibilities and limitations while creating in collaboration with others.

Included in this strand are movement exploration, improvisation, compositional and choreographic concepts, and artistic principals of design and dance criticism. Dance criticism is describing, analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating dance, as well as justifying responses to works. 

The Perspectives Strand – emphasizing the historical, scientific, cultural, aesthetic and critical aspects of dance. Included in this strand are explorations of dance past and present, enduring great dance works and cultural dance. This involves examining philosophies of dance, the universality of dance, the significance of dance and the nature of the artistic experience. This strand also includes knowledge and application of anatomy, kinesiology, physics, nutrition, and health as related to the development of a dancer.  Students will also be introduced to the different career choices in the dance profession.

Through all these strands the students are engaged in processes which involve inquiry, higher-order thinking, and critical and creative thinking. Opportunities are provided to develop self-esteem, responsible attitudes, leadership skills and positive interactions with others of exceptional ability in dance. The dance students view and experience dance as a dancer, choreographer, dance historian/anthropologist and dance critic thus giving them the tools to perceive, synthesize, respond, and evaluate dance through an aesthetic viewpoint. 

Dance Performance – All students participate in an annual dance concert. This unit focuses on the skills necessary for the performing artist. During the course of one unit the students learn, rehearse and perform works choreographed for them by the dance faculty. Some dances developed by students in Creative Dance classes are chosen for inclusion in the concert. The concert is a fully developed theatrical performance open to the public.

Program Application

For further assistance and/or information, contact your gifted resource teacher at your home school or call Old Donation Center at 757.648.3240.

Applications are available in all home schools. Referral information to determine abilities and interests is required from the physical education instructor, classroom teacher, and parent.  An audition is required for students referred for the dance program. Group auditions are held each school year and are designed to demonstrate a student's potential in the following areas:

  • rhythmic ability
  • motor adeptness and coordination
  • flexibility, muscular strength, stamina
  • expressiveness, dynamics
  • comprehension and interpretation of directions
  • movement sequencing

All information is reviewed by the Eligibility Committee which determines the student's need for gifted dance curriculum. The Eligibility Committee sends a recommendation to the home school principal and to the parents within 60 school days of the date of the audition.

Program Curriculum

The Gifted Dance Education Program provides an advanced developmental curriculum commensurate with the talent and ability of the student.  The goals of the curriculum are designed to encourage students to accept challenges, understand broad concepts and apply creative and technical skills in dance. The dance curriculum is based on the National Standards for Dance Education, the Virginia Dance Arts Standards of Learning and other accepted benchmarks in dance and gifted arts education. As a result of participation in the Dance Education Program, identified students will:

  • Acquire advanced knowledge in dance
    Students will explore movement and interpretation, dance history, theory, aesthetics, and dance careers in depth.
  • Produce original works in dance and movement
    Students will create quality works that show in-depth involvement with concepts and processes.
  • Use advanced thinking skills related to dance concepts
    Students will integrate theory, practice, and evaluation.
  • Demonstrate heightened awareness and perception
    Students will discover relationships in movement and investigate the nature of artistic expression.
  • Solve problems creatively
    Students will explore imagination and expression through divergent approaches to examine connections, limitations, and possibilities.
  • Communicate effectively
    Students will express ideas and experiences through a variety of forms: kinetic, visual, verbal, written, and artistic.
  • Display personal growth
    Students will develop self-esteem, task commitment, personal responsibility, positive attitudes toward peers, and an appreciation for individual differences.


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Updated Saturday, February 15, 2014