Critical Learning

Guiding Questions

Dance can play an important role in society, as it is a tool that can communicate environmental issues to audiences and performers.

Dance is an ever-evolving art form as it is a reflection of society.

Self and peer reflection can help shape a dance work.

How does site specific dance add meaning and alter the concept of the piece?
Why would an artist choose to create a piece in a site other than the studio?
How does feedback help to improve movement phrases?

Curriculum Expectations

Learning Goals

Creating, Presenting and Performing

A1. The Creative Process:use the creative process, the elements of dance (body, space, time, energy, and relationship), and a variety of sources to develop movement vocabulary;

A1.1 use the elements of dance to create and perform a variety of movement phrases inspired by sources 

A1.2 create and perform phrases that manipulate three or more elements of dance

A2. Choreography and Composition:combine the elements of dance in a variety of ways in composing individual and ensemble dance creations; 

A2.1 use a variety of choreographic forms, structures, and techniques to connect a series of movement phrases

A2.2 construct a dance composition inspired by a source  

A4. Performance: apply dance presentation skills in a variety of contexts and performances

A4.1 revise and refine movement to enhance dance performance and interpretation

Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing

B1. Critical Analysis Process: use the critical analysis process to reflect on and evaluate their own and others’ dance works and activities;

B1.2 analyse dance works in terms of both their content and their fluency, artistry, or expressiveness 


C2. Contexts and Influences

C2.2 identify and describe ways in which dance addresses social questions of local and/or global interest (e.g., explain how the choreography of a dance work on a social justice or environmental theme helps communicate the intended message)  

Learning Goals
(Unpacked Expectations)

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • understand what site specific dance is and how it can enhance the message of a dance piece 
  • connect their dance with the physical environment it is being danced in
  • begin to understand how dance can be used as a catalyst for a variety of social issues
  • review and evaluate their own works

Instructional Components


Students will continue to work on their environmental piece and will need to begin to make artistic choices, such as, title, where the group will perform, costuming ideas, etc. Students will continue to need to work with the elements of dance and compositional structures and tools.


Site Specific


Computer with Internet Access
Chart paper and Markers


Approximately 30 minutes

Minds On

Pause and Ponder

Whole Group > View Site Specific Dance

Have students view a site specific dance piece. (See hyperlinks for suggestions).

Pairs > Reflection

Instruct students to choose a partner and discuss:
How did the environment that the dance is located in add to the overall effect and meaning of the piece?
What images resonated with you and why?
How was the environment incorporated into the piece?  Discuss TWO specific examples.

Small Group > Article

Instruct students in six groups, to read an article on site specific dance (see hyperlinks for suggestions)

Assign ONE of the following questions to each group member and ask students to record their responses on chart paper.

  1. Why is site specific dance so powerful?
  2. What does serendipity mean and how is it related to site specific dance?
  3. What are some of the variables that are out of a choreographer's control and how can this affect the piece?
  4. What should a choreographer take into consideration when planning/choreographing a piece?  (In terms of movement)
  5. Which dance artists first began using site specific dance and why?
  6. Write your own definition of site specific dance.

Instruct groups to share their responses about the questions above with their group.


Assessment for Learning (AfL)

Questioning during Minds On, side coaching and teacher conference.

Assessment as Learning (AaL)

Talk Around

Differentiation (DI)

Provide a copy of the article for each student. Provide a list of various locations that pieces could be performed. 

Quick Tip

You may wish to incorporate the information from this book into a mini-lesson before students give feedback to groups. 

Dancers Talking Dance by Larry Lavender

Details how to formulate critical responses to dance based on the five step ORDER approach: Observation, Reflection, Discussion, Evaluation, Recommendations for revisions.  

You may also wish to look at the Dance Current website for reviews and articles. (See hyperlinks).  

Hyperlinks in the Lesson

Links to site-specific dance examples:

Alias Dance Project animates Toronto's Todmorden Mills

Porch View Dances by Kaeja d'Dance

Global Water Dances (Toronto) by Janice Pomer

Site Specific piece by choreographer Stephan Koplowitz

Site Specific rehearsal in Tong Chong Street


Link to articles:

Let's Take it Outside by Camille LeFevre

Huffpost article about site specific dance


Dance Current Magazine

Approximately 110 minutes


Small Group > Brainstorming Site Specific Performance Locations

Invite students to brainstorm a list of site specific environments that would work for their group choreography. Ask them to choose a space that will enhance or juxtapose the theme/ideas of their dance work. It must be safe for performance and accommodate an audience.

Small Groups > Explore/Experiment and Producing Preliminary Work

Have students go to the location to further develop and rehearse their dance work. Remind them that they may want to make changes to accommodate and reflect the surroundings, as a site-specific piece should use the location as part of the choreography (i.e. the choreography becomes part of the choreography and could not be performed anywhere else). Remind students to be aware that other classes may be in progress and that they must work quietly. If students are outside make sure that there is adequate teacher supervision. 

Facilitate a time for class to view small groups works in progress. Walk around to locations as a group.

Small Group > Feedback

After presentations, invite students to use the critical analysis process to give and receive feedback to and from another group. Ask each group to identify two areas for improvement and two areas where the piece was aesthetically effective. 

Key Questions for Discussion:

What elements and tools of composition are used in the piece? 
How are the elements organized, combined, or arranged?
How does the dance evoke ideas, feelings, and images?
How does the performance location add to the overall effectiveness of the work?

Small Group > Refining/Revising and Making Artistic Choices

Instruct students to work with the ideas and suggestions that come out of the analysis above. Allow students 20-30 minutes to discuss and explore these ideas and suggestions. Encourage students to make choices about the title of the work, music, costuming, performance space, audience location, entrances and exits, etc.

Small Group > Teacher Conferencing

Conference with each group during the refining/revising process and ensure that students are on the right track. Discuss their piece and choices that they are making.  Allow students to ask questions for clarification.

Approximately 70 minutes


Whole Group > Talk Around

Ask students to sit in a circle and have them share what location they have chosen and why.  

Key Questions for Discussion:

How did your group adapt the choreography to the site?
What were some challenges the group came across?
Did the piece become more meaningful in any way?  If yes, explain.
What did your group enjoy about the process?