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While engrossed in dance, children exercise their bodies, minds, creativity, and social awareness skills. The dance program at St. James’ allows students to play, to create, to express themselves, and to enhance their learning of many other, intertwining subjects all at once. Best of all, dancing is fun!

SJS_0913-X2.jpgStudents at every grade level enjoy St. James’ dance program. The design of the program is based on three guiding principles:

  • creative movement, developing a dynamic range of ways to use the body expressively;
  • curriculum integration, using dance to teach aspects of the academic curriculum in other disciplines; and
  • choreography, drawing from a range of dance styles and allowing students to showcase their hard work and creativity.

As they delve into the richly creative and interdisciplinary study of dance, students also hone important intra- and interpersonal skills as they learn to keep their bodies safe, to keep other bodies safe, and to listen and respect the instruction they are given.

The curriculum is differentiated by grade level, in accordance with the California Visual and Performing Arts Standards for dance.


By Grade Level


In Kindergarten dance class, students work on developing basic motor skills and choreographic vocabulary. They apply kinesthetic knowledge by responding to aural and visual prompting stimuli (e.g., music and art) with expressive dance.

1st Grade

1st-graders get creative in composing and improvising choreographic sequences with their classmates. They also continue to develop motor skills and refine control of basic movements.

2nd Grade

2nd-grade curriculum emphasizes intercultural and interdisciplinary learning. Students explore forms of dance from around the world, use dance to communicate different images and emotions, and connect the study of dance to the study of literature and the practice of good personal health.

3rd Grade

3rd-graders continue to extend their academic learning in dance as they study traditional American folk dances. They address creative challenges by combining kinesthetic skills and dance vocabulary, and they reflect constructively upon each other’s performances.

4th Grade

4th-grade dance curriculum focuses on dances from the Latin diaspora, such as flamenco, salsa, rumba, and more. Students create their own dances and learn traditional ones; specificity and finesse of movement are emphasized.

5th Grade

5th-graders study, create, and perform complex choreographic sequences with attention to detail and expressive intent. They also apply their growing dance vocabulary to describing and implementing dances related to United States history.

6th Grade

In 6th-grade dance class, students consider how the art of dance relates to their personal lives and to their global cultural studies. Performance projects involve fusions of traditional and contemporary dance vocabularies from contrasting cultures, as well as students’ original choreography.