Our Dance faculty at the Northwest School can bring out the dancer in everyone. You will engage your brain and body and learn how to express yourself through movement.

You’ll experience a range of dance styles through courses offered at various grade levels. Courses include Jazz, Theatre Dance, Line Dance & Lindy Hop, Latin Social Dance, Modern/Contemporary, Hip Hop and Commercial Dance. And you’ll also be able to earn some of your PE credits through enrollment in dance courses.

Dance Department Highlights

  • Frequent visits from guest artists enrich students’ experiences.
  • Students from all grades perform each trimester in the Dance Department Showcase.

Dance Course Catalog

Middle School

Grade 6

Jump Into Dance

In this class, students JUMP into learning about the foundations of movement and the creative process! Students explore and apply new movement principles such as space, time, energy and flow, through creative play that plants the seeds of their artistic voices! 

This course is offered in each trimester and is required for all 6th grade students.  

Grades 7 & 8

Authentic Jazz

Jazz dance includes influences from African and Latin dances as well as Swing and even ballet. In this course students learn the history of Jazz dance from its roots in African-American social dance to the Lindy Hop and theater dance. Students learn upbeat and energetic dances, such as the Shim Sham and the Charleston, as well as classic moves like Apple Jacks, Mess Around and Tacky Annie. Students also learn choreography so they can create their own dances as well. Dancer’s work as an ensemble and perform for the community.

Commercial Dance

Commercial dance is associated with show business and pop culture. Commercial dance is about entertaining audiences and telling stories. This includes dances for television, commercials, music videos, movies, popular dance trends and more; this style requires versatility. Students learn dances with movements from Jazz, Modern, Hip Hop and Funk styles. They dive in and explore quick, sharp isolations and syncopated rhythms. they create long lines and crisp shapes with their bodies, as well as leaps, jumps and turns. Dancer’s work as an ensemble and perform for the community.

Dance for Musical Theater

The dance scenes in a play or movie advance the plot, bring a period to life or reveal a character. In this class, students learn dances from various musicals that illustrate each of these purposes. Students also create some choreography of their own and perform for the community. Excellent training for actors.No prerequisite.

Dance for Social Change

The body thinks first, making dance one of the most honest forms of expression. Dancing for Social Change is a process-based course that delves into the universal language of movement, using dance as a tool for social change to create art around social justice issues in our everyday lives and communities. In this course, students will be introduced to an embodied social justice framework to explore ways in which our body conveys meaning and impact. Through a guided dance composition process, students will reflect on their personal, relational, and communal identities to collectively create an original dance piece that reflects their experiences and envisions a world we want to live in. This course aims to bring together students with an interest in investigating and investing in social change through dance to develop a deeper relationship to their bodies, others, and their peripheral world.

Middle School Dance Ensemble

This two-trimester course emphasizes performance and community leadership. The course is designed to strengthen each participant’s dance and movement technique, choreographic skills, and artistry, and also building collaboration and ensemble skills while exploring a variety of contemporary movement forms. Strong commitment and dedication to the creative process are essential for this class. This is a great class for students who want to deepen their commitment to dance. No prerequisite.

Upper School

Grades 9 - 12

Creative Contemporary Dance • Grades 9-12 

Creative Contemporary Dance is a class focused on developing fundamental movement skills and individual personal expression. This course accesses creativity using Modern/Contemporary dance approaches. We will explore what the body can do physically and how humans express themselves using dance. We will start with the basic dance habits of mind: focus, observation, awareness, and control of your body in space. Along the way, we will play fun movement games and try out choreographic experiments. In this class we will explore the history of modern dance and the pioneers, radical thinkers, and revolutionaries who pushed against social boundaries and rules to create new ways of moving. We will investigate the reasons why people dance and how it can be a powerful form of social commentary and self-expression. This class is great for beginners and creative thinkers! You will explore different contemporary dance techniques, learn how to make your own dances, and perform for the community. You will often say “What happens if we…?”

Line Dance & Lindy Hop • Grades 9-12 

This year-long course will offer a brief historical overview of African-American Social Dance. We will explore social dance structures such as partner dances, folk dances, line dances, and the study of somatic expression in the community. This course will closely study dances from the plantation era to the present day to learn about the evolution of Jazz dance. Through this study, students will analyze Africanist aesthetics and European influences on social dances, and music from the Jazz Era, and emphasize the rich history and culture that surrounds these dances. Students will showcase their learning at the end of the trimester dance showcases.

Latin Social Dance • Grades 11-12 

This class explores Latin social dances including partner dances, line dances and party dances. You will learn the basics of Merengue, Bachata, Salsa and more! Merengue and Bachata have roots in the Dominican Republic. Salsa is rooted in Latin American popular music, blending predominantly Cuban rhythms with elements of jazz, rock, and soul music. Salsa began in Cuba and became popular in New York and Miami in the 1950’s-70’s. These forms have evolved over time are now danced passionately all over the world. This class explores the history, cultural context and evolution of each dance. Curriculum includes basic footwork, rhythm and foundational skills needed to dance both socially and perform choreography. We will build lead and follow skills as well as understand the concepts of frame and connection in partner dancing. By practicing Salsa and other Latin dance styles, students will improve their sense of rhythm, musicality, balance, coordination, endurance, and general body connectivity.

Performing Dance Ensemble • Grades 9-12

This class is for dancers who love to create, rehearse, and perform for the community. In this space, highly dedicated dance students collaborate with each other and the teacher, with the common goal of deepening their dance education. This class offers opportunities to broaden your horizons regarding movement. The ensemble explores a variety of movement styles with an emphasis on Hip Hop and Contemporary dance. The group enhances each other’s passion for dance in a fun joyful environment. As the most advanced dance course in our program, PDE dancers are role models, representing dance at school and community events. PDE dancers are passionate, dedicated, self-motivated, strong collaborators with a curiosity to explore new challenges among an ensemble. Interested dancers must audition for possible placement into this course. Dance experience required.

Dance Faculty