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K-12 Dance Standards


The National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) in Dance: An Overview

The National Core Arts Standards in Dance are designed to enable students to achieve dance literacy.

  • Click Here to download the Dance Standards and supporting documents.
  • Click Here to download the Opportunity to Learn Standards (OTL's).
  • Click Here to view and engage with the interactive version of the Standards.
  • Click Here to read the Report of the State Adoption of the NCAS Standards.
  • Click Here to read the Report of Dance Certifications by State and their link to the NCAS Standards.
  • Click Here to order the Standards Poster.

A group of young black female dancers sit on the floor in dance class with their legs straight in front of them and arms behind their head.

To be literate in the arts, students need specific knowledge and skills in a particular arts discipline to a degree that allows for fluency and deep understanding. In dance, this means discovering the expressive elements of dance; knowing the terminology that is used to comprehend dance; having a clear sense of embodying dance; and being able to reflect, critique, and connect personal experience to dance.


Four artistic processes organize the standards across the arts disciplines: Creating, Performing, Responding, and Connecting. Each artistic process includes a set of overarching anchor standards. The anchor standards are consistent among the arts disciplines represented in the National Core Arts Standards and demonstrate the breadth of the work. They are held constant for student learning over time. 

Each anchor standard in dance is supported by a process component, an enduring understanding, and an essential question. These additional features will benefit educational leaders and teachers as they consider curricular models and structure lessons aligned to the dance standards. 

Performance standards describe more specifically what students should know and be able to do in dance and are expressed as measurable outcomes across the grades pre-kindergarten to eighth grade and into high school at three levels of proficiency. The performance standards are the substantive portion of the work and represent the depth of study in dance.

A group of dancers in baggy clothes stand in a clump on stage against a blue back round.

Of significance is that the four artistic processes are addressed linearly in written standards, but are envisioned to occur simultaneously in the actual practice of dance. The dancer imagines, envisions, or improvises movements (creating), executes the movements (performing), reflects on them (responding), and connects the experience to all other contexts of meaning or knowledge (connecting). As a result, one lesson can address many standards at the same time. In a single class, students can learn by solving movement problems, showing their ideas through movement, thinking critically about them, and relating them to other ideas, experiences, contexts, and meanings.    

The National Core Arts Standards in Dance are rooted in a creative approach to teaching and learning. They describe expectations for learning in dance regardless of culture, style or genre and impart the breadth and depth of the dance experience through the art-making processes. The goal of the standards is to inspire dance educators and their students to explore the many facets of dance and prepare them for a lifetime of engagement with the art form.

Learn About the Standards