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Dance & Movement

Durham Academy students experience the joy and beauty of dance and movement from their earliest years, starting with rhythmic action in Preschool music class and interpretive movement in Lower School musical performances.

As students advance through the Middle and Upper School, movement and dance courses offer opportunities to spend dedicated time on the artistry and physicality of dance. By the time our most passionate dancers graduate from the Upper School, they are ready to choreography their own pieces, audition for collegiate programs, or dance recreationally.

Preschool & Lower School Movement

Group of young students joyfully dancing with dance partners.

Dance and movement are incorporated into music classes at the Preschool and Lower School levels. Students might explore folk dances related to their unit studies or use their bodies as percussion instruments (clapping, stomping and the like) in musical numbers. 

In performances — such as Fall Songfest in the Preschool and Third-Grade Grandfriends Day — songs are typically accompanied by interpretative movements. Movement is particularly highlighted in the First- and Second-Grade Music Program.

In addition to students' explorations of dance and movement during the school day, some students choose to take deeper dives into dance through After-School Enrichment classes. A couple of examples of such After-School Enrichments that have been offered in recent years include yoga/movement and cheerleading.

Middle School Movement


Movement is one of the six courses that all fifth- and sixth-graders participate in as part of the Explorations component of the Middle School curriculum. This trimester course takes an interpretive, creative approach to dance that introduces the student to many dance techniques: Creative Movement, Classical Ballet, Modern, Jazz and Contemporary. A primary goal is to help students appreciate dance as an expressive vehicle and as an art form.

The class culminates with a final group choreography project that features student generated material, created and performed as a collaborative effort, shared with their classmates.


Through the Electives component of the Middle School curriculum, seventh- and eighth-graders may choose to take a deeper dive into movement through a yearlong course.

Upper School Dance

The Upper School dance program develops the skills and artistry of students who are exploring an opportunity to dance for the first time, as well as those who already identify as passionate dancers. The program is designed to challenge and support all students — no matter their skill level on the first day of class.

Throughout the school year, Upper School dance students build and showcase courage, self-confidence and joy through proper technical skill development, exploration of choreographic projects, and strength and flexibility. Dance genres explored in Upper School courses include Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Tap and Cultural dance forms.

The Winter Dance Concert largely showcases student-created work and the progress students have made in finding their creative voices, focusing on choreographic projects and combinations learned in the first semester.

The Spring Dance Concert is a showcase of the learned styles and genres from the school year, including class-specific dances, dance club performances, a production-style finale and special guest choreographers and performers.

Students also experience the joy of dance through extracurricular opportunities like the student-organized Dance Club.