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Family and Community Guide for Secondary Dance

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Working Together: To support families, communities, and teachers in realizing the goals of the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS), this guide provides an overview of the learning expectations for students studying high school dance. This guide offers some learning experiences students may engage in at school that may also be supported at home.

Why Standards? Created by Coloradans for Colorado students, the Colorado Academic Standards provide a grade-by-grade road map to help ensure students are successful in college, careers, and life. The standards aim to improve what students learn and how they learn in 12 content areas while emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and communication as essential skills for life in the 21st century.

See all the Family and Community Guides here.

Where can I learn more?

  • As always, the best place to learn about what your child is learning is from your child's teacher and school. The Colorado Academic Standards describe goals, but how those goals are met is a local decision.
  • The Colorado Academic Standards were written for an audience of professional educators, but parents and community members looking to dig deeper may want to read them for themselves. Visit the Standards and Instructional Support homepage for several options for reviewing the Colorado Academic Standards.
  • If you have further questions, please contact the content specialists in the Office of Standards and Instructional Support.


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Dance (adopted 2022)

Instead of grade levels, the dance standards in the secondary years are differentiated for skill development.  These levels are Novice, Emerging, Intermediate, Proficient, and Exemplary. The purpose of these different pathways is to give students the opportunity to enter into the secondary dance classroom at their current skill level. These levels allow for multiple points of entry and personalized placement to provide rigorous and appropriate dance experiences for students from 6th Grade through High School.  Learning about dance and the creative process educates the whole student while developing self-confidence through artistic practices.  The Essential Skills learned while participating in the art of dance gives students the knowledge and skills necessary to creatively succeed in a postsecondary world. 


Novice: (Previously, this level of dance was designated as Sixth Grade.)  A typical and basic entry point for self-selected dance participation for a student at Sixth Grade. This student is probably new to dance or has one year or less of previous experience. This level could also be used for a teacher who is teaching a non-performance class with students who have little or no dance experience. 

Expectations for the Novice Dancer:

  • Movement, Technique, and Performance (Perform/Present): Students perform basic dance technique and expressive movement skills in limited styles, while using appropriate dance vocabulary for each genre.
  • Create, Compose and Choreograph (Create): Students improvise movement and create dances alone or in groups using a variety of themes and choreographic structures.
  • Historical and Cultural Context (Know/Comprehend): Students research, explore, and organize movement from different eras and cultures.
  • Reflect, Connect, and Respond (Critique/Evaluate/Refine): Students can explain theme, meaning, and choreographic structure in a variety of dances, understand the relationship of the art of dance to other art forms and academic subjects.

Throughout the Novice Level, You May Find Students:

  • Identifying the qualities that are needed for basic dance technique and artistic expression in a dance performance.
  • Applying self-awareness and healthy habits to prevent injury.
  • Collaborating and communicating with peers to refine dances through a rehearsal process.
  • Identifying one’s creative choices and applying them to movement using choreographic structure.
  • Researching, observing, and describing dance forms from various time periods and cultures.
  • Researching connections between the art of dance and its impact on societies, and cultures.
  • Reflecting on the dance works of other choreographers and dancers.


Emerging: (Previously, this level of dance was designated as Seventh Grade.)  This pathway is designed for students with a level of experience of approximately two full school years of dance participation. 

Expectations for the Emerging Dancer:

  • Movement, Technique, and Performance (Perform/Present): Students perform basic to intermediate level dance technique and explore expressive performance skills in various styles. Students can articulate appropriate dance vocabulary in each genre.
  • Create, Compose, and Choreograph (Create): Students collaborate with peers and share a variety of ideas and inspirations to clarify movement choices while using creative process to develop dances.
  • Historical and Cultural Context (Know/Comprehend): Students research, identify, and organize movements from historical and cultural aspects of various societies.
  • Reflect, Connect, and Respond (Critique/Evaluate/Refine): Students can interpret meaning in dances created by themselves or others, while analyzing the relationships of dance to other subjects.

Throughout the Emerging Level, You May Find Students:

  • Refining dance technique, bodily alignment, and movement control, as well as artistic expression in a dance performance.
  • Continuing self-awareness and healthful habits to prevent injury.
  • Collaborating and communicating with peers to refine dances through a rehearsal process.
  • Identifying and defining various roles in a dance production.
  • Creating, refining, and performing dances using a variety of choreographic structures.
  • Researching, observing, and describing the evolution of dance from various time periods and cultures.
  • Reflecting on personal dance performances using constructive self-evaluation.


Intermediate: (Previously, this level of dance was designated as Eighth Grade.)  This pathway is designed for students with a level of experience of approximately three full school years of dance participation. 

Expectations for the Intermediate Dancer:

Movement, Technique, and Performance (Perform/Present): Students perform intermediate level dance technique with control and artistic expression in various styles.

Create, Compose, and Choreograph (Create): Students identify, understand, and develop personal artistic vision when using creative processes to construct dances.

Historical and Cultural Context (Know/Comprehend): Students use knowledge gained through research about historical eras and culturally specific themes to create movement.  Students recognize one’s own cultural and historical identity through dance.

Reflect, Connect, and Respond (Critique, Evaluate/Refine): Students can interpret meaning in dances created by themselves or others, while analyzing the relationships of dance to other subjects.

Throughout the Intermediate Level, You May Find Students:

  • Using technical dance skills to explore artistic expression.
  • Maintaining healthy habits and safe body practices to prevent injury.
  • Applying production elements to design and convey artistic vision to a dance performance.
  • Discussing the creative process used for making dances.
  • Creating, refining, and performing dances using a variety of choreographic structures.
  • Researching, observing, and describing the evolution of dance from various time periods and cultures.
  • Making connections to how dances in the past relate to present day dance trends.
  • Reflecting on the meaning of dances created by others.
  • Understanding and explaining personal artistic choices when creating a dance for oneself.


Proficient: (Previously, this level of dance was designated as the High School Fundamental Pathway.)  This pathway is designed for students with a level of experience of approximately four to five school years of dance participation. 

Expectations for the Proficient Dancer:

Movement, Technique, and Performance (Perform/Present): Students perform intermediate to advanced level dance technique and demonstrate phrasing of movements with or without music.  Students model disciplined performance etiquette during class, rehearsals, and on stage, while developing leadership skills.

Create, Compose, and Choreograph (Create): Students adapt creative ideas to fit the needs of their group and an overall production. Students collaborate to refine choreography based on feedback from the director.

Historical and Cultural Context (Know/Comprehend): Students use multiple technologies to research historical eras and culturally specific themes to create movement.

Reflect, Connect, and Respond (Critique, Evaluate/Refine): Students critique, analyze, and reflect on dance works created by others and self.  Students can discuss their personal connections to the art of dance and the creative process.

Throughout the Proficient Level, You May Find Students:

  • Performing more advanced technical dance skills to explore a wide range of artistic expressions.
  • Maintaining healthy habits and safe body practices as a lifestyle choice.
  • Creating and applying personal goals to improve performance skills, create dances, and contribute to the overall art of dance.
  • Beginning to think like a choreographer and develop leadership skills.
  • Developing professional etiquette.
  • Applying production elements of costume and set design to convey an artistic vision in a dance performance.
  • Translating the knowledge gained from historical and cultural research into dance performances.
  • Integrating different inspirations, subjects, and artistic disciplines to the creative process of making a dance.
  • Investigating varying career opportunities in dance.


Exemplary: (Previously, this level of dance was designated as the High School Extended Pathway.)  This pathway is designed for students with a level of approximately six years or more of continuous dance participation who may want/need a higher-level of experience. Additionally, this level is for students who are seeking to major or minor in dance in post-secondary education.

Expectations for the Exemplary Dancer:

Movement, Technique, and Performance (Perform/Present): Students confidently perform advanced level dance technique in a variety of styles, with a range of artistic expression.  Students are comfortable dancing alone or with others.  Students model disciplined professionalism and performance etiquette during class, rehearsals, and on stage. Exemplary dance students have developed leadership skills.

Create, Compose, and Choreograph (Create): Students apply advanced choreographic concepts and are at ease with using the creative process for making dances.  

Historical and Cultural Context (Know/Comprehend): Students independently research historical eras and culturally specific themes to inspire new dances.

Reflect, Connect, and Respond (Critique, Evaluate/Refine): Students critique, analyze, and reflect on dance works created by others and self, across multiple time periods and cultures.  Students can discuss their personal connections to the art of dance and the creative process.

Throughout the Exemplary Level, You May Find Students:

  • Confidently performing advanced technical dance skills using a wide range of artistic expressions.
  • Maintaining healthy habits and safe body practices as a lifestyle choice.
  • Creating and applying personal goals to improve performance skills, create dance, and contribute to the community.
  • Thinking like a choreographer and seeing the “big picture”.
  • Choreographing for others.
  • Modeling professional etiquette and showing leadership.
  • Applying production elements of costume and set design to convey their artistic vision.
  • Translating knowledge gained from historical and cultural research into dance performances.
  • Deciding a personal pathway for career opportunities in dance.