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Why Dance?

We’ve worked closely with teachers to design AS and A-level Dance specifications to inspire, challenge and motivate every student, no matter what their level of ability.

Dance is a powerful and inspiring qualification that encourages students to develop their creative, physical, emotional and intellectual capacity, whatever their previous experience in the subject.

We recognise the role of dance in young people’s lives and students will be able to study a range of dance styles. We’ve set relevant and exciting sources for all choreography and broadened our areas of study. Students can perform and choreograph in a style of their choice for the group work, providing it meets the assessment criteria.

Summary of content

The core content is based around Performance, Choreography and Critical Engagement.


Students must develop and apply the knowledge, understanding and skills required to perform dance, as a soloist and in a duet/trio. The knowledge and understanding of physical skills, including: flexibility, strength, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, agility, neuromuscular coordination and kinaesthetic awareness, underpin and inform the development of both the physical/technical and interpretative/performance skills outlined in:

  • Performance in a solo (see page 12 of the specification)
  • Performance within a quartet (see page 13 of the specification).


Students must learn how to create an original piece of group choreography, which lasts for a minimum of three minutes to a maximum of four minutes, for three, four or five dancers, in response to an externally set task.

To translate their dance ideas into choreography, students must develop and apply practical knowledge and understanding of choreographic processes, including:

  • researching, developing and experimenting with dance ideas through studio and non-studio investigation
  • the rehearsal process.

Critical engagement

The set works and areas of study provide an appropriate focus for students to critically engage with dance and understand the interrelationship between the creation, presentation and viewing/ appreciation of dance.

This specification requires students to develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of two set works and their corresponding areas of study.

One of these must be the compulsory set work and area of study.

One further set work and area of study must be selected from the four options in Optional set works and areas of study (see page 19 of the specification).

Component 1: Performance and choreography

What's assessed:

  • Solo performance linked to a specified practitioner within an area of study
  • Performance in a quartet
  • Group choreography

How it's assessed:

  • Practical exam
  • 80 marks
  • 50% of A-level

Non-examination assessment (NEA) marked by an external assessor from AQA during a visit to your centre. Visits will normally take place between March and May. Externally set tasks are distributed by 15 September in the academic year of certification.


Component 2: Critical engagement

What's assessed:

Knowledge, understanding and critical appreciation of two set works.

  • One compulsory set work within the compulsory area of study
  • One optional set work within the corresponding area of study, from a choice of four.

How it's assessed:

  • Written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • 100 marks
  • 50% of A-level


Two sections:

  • Section A: short answer questions (25 marks) and one essay question (25 marks) on the compulsory set work/area of study.
  • Section B: two essay questions on the second set work/area of study (25 marks for each essay).

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