Dance - Arts - McDonogh School


The heart of McDonogh's dance program is the creative process. Students learn that dance is not about the final concert, but about the hours of patient and dedicated work that shape both the performance and the performer. Dancers of all experience levels face physical, intellectual, and creative challenges that teach them to rely on their intuition and focus to achieve self-expression. Students, who often work as an ensemble, learn respect for self and their fellow dancers. Equally important is that the passion and discipline inspired through dance spreads through all aspects of their lives.

Lower School

Our lower schoolers are exposed to many genres and styles of dance through their performing arts classes. The curriculum looks at dance through a variety of lenses so that students recognize the value and importance of movement locally and globally. Dance is also explored through special units of study, field trips, visiting artists, and performance opportunities. 

Middle School

The Middle School dance curriculum begins with creative movement classes in fifth and sixth grade. Class activities are grounded in improvisation and composition as a way to introduce students to the elements of dance. As students progress, they are introduced to more technical aspects of dance including jazz, ballet, modern, and hip-hop. Creative discovery is explored through compositional activities and choreography assignments. In seventh and eighth grade, students may choose dance as their year-long arts course or as a term arts class. Each spring, the Middle School Dance Concert features pieces choreographed by the head of the dance program.

Upper School

The Upper School dance curriculum provides creative and challenging opportunities for dancers of all abilities and interests. The program focuses on modern/contemporary, ballet, jazz, and hip hop. It also includes units in tap, post-modern, and African dance techniques. Students compose their own choreography, resulting in a creative and cooperative environment that challenges students to become artists and create meaning through movement. This collaboration is furthered during studio performances where students perform their work for their classmates, the school, and beyond (with annual field trips to assisted living facilities and local dance festivals). As the program progresses, students are given increasing autonomy, allowing them more freedom of self-direction and self-discovery. The annual dance concert is open to all upper schoolers, not just those enrolled in dance courses, and it is a showcase of talent choreographed by students, faculty, and guest artists.

Dance is just one of many things I can never stop thanking this school for. It’s my career. It’s my life.

Nile Russell ‘00