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A Level Dance Essay

 

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Unit 01

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Unit 02

Unit 03

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Unit 04

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Unit 01

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Unit 02

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Unit 03

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Unit 04

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Unit 01

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Mark schemes

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Unit 02

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Unit 03

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Unit 04

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3.3.1 Section A – Areas of Study

Candidates are required to investigate one area of study out of a possible three and to answer one question from a choice of two on their chosen area of study.

Centres may choose the area of study candidates will follow but the choice and subsequent delivery of subject content should reflect the appropriate range of features associated with that genre. The questions in Section A of the Unit 3 examination paper refer to an understanding of professional repertoire in the context of the genre as a whole.

These areas of study link Unit 3 directly to the solo performance presentation of Unit 4.

The following aspects for each area of study should be investigated:

  • stylistic features of the area of study, i.e. the characteristics of the style reflecting the range within the genre
  • practitioners and their techniques, i.e. the influences affecting the development of each practitioner’s technique and style, showing the range and contrast within the genre. A minimum of two practitioners with established professional reputations should be investigated
  • works of the practitioners, i.e. an appreciation of each practitioner's works and an understanding of their importance in the development of the genre
  • the relationship between the development of the genre and its context, i.e. the position of the genre within history, culture and society; the influence of the context on the genre and the genre's ability to reflect and challenge society.

The three areas of study for examination 2013–2015 are:

The Royal Ballet 1956–1977

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 1958–current

Netherlands Dance Theatre 1959–1999.

Teachers should note that the areas of study are expected to change every three years.

The Royal Ballet 1956–1977

The main company and the touring company both received the Royal Charter in 1956. The main company’s founder, Ninette de Valois, resigned as director in 1963. Frederick Ashton became the new director with Kenneth MacMillan as chief choreographer. The directorship passed to MacMillan in 1970 with Peter Wright as associate director. MacMillan resigned from the post in 1977 in order to give more time to choreography. During this period the company maintained its commitment to 19th century classical repertoire. However, many new works were also created, as well as major revivals. The range within the repertoire provided the ideal opportunities for the abilities of the dancers and for the development of significant partnerships. The touring company went through changes in both name and composition during this period.

Examples of practitioners for this study area:

Sir Frederick Ashton

His early training was with Massine and he later studied with Marie Rambert who recognised his choreographic potential. He joined the Vic-Wells Ballet in 1935 as dancer and choreographer, later becoming director of the Royal Ballet from 1963 to 1970. He is recognised as one of the main creators of the British classical style. He made a major contribution to the classical repertoire through the range of his work, his musicality, his recognition of the dancers’ skills and his understanding of academic dance. His works include La Fille mal gardée (1960), The Dream (1964) and Monotones (1965 and 1966).

Sir Kenneth MacMillan

He trained at the Sadler’s Wells Ballet School and, on graduation, joined the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet as a dancer. In 1948 he moved to Covent Garden and then returned to Sadler’s Wells. He made his first choreography in 1953, later becoming director of the Royal Ballet from 1970 to 1977. He was concerned with the expression of feeling through movement, often creating dramatic situations through which the range of emotions could be revealed. He was innovative in his choreography, focusing on themes which were unfamiliar in classical ballet at that time. His works include Romeo and Juliet (1965), The Song of the Earth (1965) and Manon (1974).

Dame Margot Fonteyn

A British ballerina who studied with Legat and Astafieva before joining the Sadler's Wells Ballet School in 1934. In the same year she made her debut with the Vic-Wells Ballet. She became Ashton's muse, creating many roles in his works. She was a true exponent of the British style of ballet, combining musicality with an expressive lyricism. She showed a purity of line and a clear rapport with the audience. Her partnership with Rudolf Nureyev led to a new phase in her dancing career. Her interpretation enhanced the roles she performed, e.g. Marguerite and Armand (Ashton, 1963) and Romeo and Juliet (MacMillan, 1965).

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 1958–current

The company was founded by Alvin Ailey in 1958 and has developed into a very successful multi-racial company. Ailey’s own African-American heritage provided the inspiration for the choreography, shown through the stylistic combination of modern, jazz and classical ballet. The grace and strength of the dancers, combined with their personality and versatility, have contributed to the theatricality of the works and their powerful emotive content. After Ailey's death in 1989 Judith Jamison, dancer and choreographer, took over as director, preserving the company’s legacy, promoting the creation of new works and ensuring financial stability. On Jamison's retirement in 2011, Robert Battle took over as director. Although never a company member, he has choreographed for the company and worked with the school. The company's repertoire includes a wide range of works by different choreographers.

Examples of practitioners for this study area:

Alvin Ailey

American dancer, choreographer and company director. He studied with Horton and later with Graham, Holm and Weidman. He founded his own company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, in 1958. His African-American heritage inspired the themes and music for his choreography. The combination of modern dance with jazz and classical ballet was enhanced by the theatricality of his works. His recognition of Judith Jamison's talent allowed him to create some of his most memorable roles for her. His works include Revelations (1960), Cry (1971) and For Bird – with Love (1984).

Judith Jamison

American dancer, choreographer and company director. She trained at the Philadelphia Dance Academy, where she was discovered by Agnes de Mille, and later studied with Tudor and Maria Swoboda. She danced with the American Ballet Theatre before joining the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1965. Although she performed with other companies, her career was committed to the Ailey company. In 1980 she began a freelance career as a dancer and choreographer. In 1989, after Ailey's death, she became the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She extended the company's repertoire with her own works and those of other choreographers. Her works include Divining (1984), Rift (1991) and Hymn (1993).

Robert Battle

American dancer, choreographer and company director. He studied at the Juilliard School and, on graduation, joined the Parsons Dance Company in 1994. He began to choreograph for the Parsons Dance Company in 1998. In 2001 he founded his own company, Battleworks Dance Company. He choreographed for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2003, and subsequently choreographed with Jamison and Rennie Harris. He was artist-inresidence for the Ailey School in 2006 and 2008. He is artistic director for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. His works include Juba (2003), In/Side (2008) and The Hunt (2010).

Netherlands Dance Theatre 1959–1999

The Netherlands Dance Theatre was founded in 1959 by a group of dancers from Sonia Gaskell's Netherlands Ballet. The new company was based in The Hague and Hans van Manen and Benjamin Harkarvy became co-artistic directors in 1960. Van Manen was also the chief choreographer. In Europe the company led the way in providing classes in modern dance technique for its members. This influence was enhanced by American modern dance choreographers who worked with the company, e.g. Butler, Sokolow and Tetley. The repertoire included experimental work influenced by modern dance. In 1969, on Harkarvy's resignation, van Manen and Tetley became joint directors. Van Manen left in 1970, but the company began a new stage in its development in 1975 when Jiˇrí Kylián became artistic director. Under Kylián’s leadership two smaller companies were also created: NDT2 for junior dancers, and NDT3 for dancers of retirement age. In 1999 Kylián resigned from the post of artistic director.

Examples of practitioners for this study area:

Hans van Manen

Dutch dancer, choreographer and company director. He studied with Sonia Gaskell, Françoise Adret and Nora Kiss. He joined the Netherlands Dance Theatre in 1960, contributing choreographically and performing the role of co-artistic director. He began a freelance career in 1971, but rejoined Netherlands Dance Theatre in 1988 as resident choreographer. His work focuses on the exploration of form and movement, with accompaniment by a wide range of composers. An identifiable theme is the relationship between men and women. His works include Grosse Fuge (1971), Twilight (1972) and Septet Extra (1973).

Glen Tetley

American dancer, choreographer and company director. He trained with Holm, Graham, Craske and Tudor, and at the School of American Ballet. After dancing with a number of different companies, including that of Holm, Graham, and the American Ballet Theatre, he started his own company in 1962. He later began working for Netherlands Dance Theatre as a dancer and choreographer, becoming co-artistic director in 1969. He has contributed to the work and development of many companies including Ballet Rambert and the Stuttgart Ballet. His style reflects modern dance influences, as well as the lyricism of classical ballet, and uses a wide range of movement vocabulary. His works include Pierrot Lunaire (1962), The Anatomy Lesson (1964) and Mutations (with van Manen, 1970).

Jiˇrí Kylián

Czech dancer, choreographer and company director. He studied at the Prague Conservatory and the Royal Ballet School. He joined the Stuttgart Ballet in 1968 and began to choreograph for the company in 1970. His first work for Netherlands Dance Theatre was in 1973 and he was later appointed as artistic director and choreographer. He also created two smaller companies: NDT2 for junior dancers and NDT3 for dancers over 40 (which showed his appreciation of the contribution of older, experienced dancers). He gave up the post of artistic director in 1999, but continued as choreographer and adviser to the company. His style reflects the influences of classical ballet, modern dance and folk dance. Emotions or ideas inspire his works, often resulting in nonnarrative dramatic pieces enhanced by his musical sensitivity. His works include Symphony of Psalms (1978), Stamping Ground (1983) and Falling Angels (1989).