There are many styles of dance, from Bollywood to ballet. How do dancers describe and record their dance moves? Can you invent a notation for your chosen form of dance?


DanceStar is a case study in which pupils explore the relationship between mathematics and different styles of dance. It aims to help pupils think about how the ideas within dance are composed of mathematical constructs –- such as counting, measures of turn, and directional movement; pupils analyse different dance forms using mathematical language and notation. The resources comprise a collection of videos depicting dance routines and moves from seven different dance genres; these introduce the concept of written notation to help dancers to communicate dance moves. Pupils discuss what they see in the videos, explore the movements involved and work on how they could be represented on paper, describing elements of the dance using notation they have devised themselves.

Mathematical content

DanceStar provides opportunities for pupils to work on Key Concepts and Key Processes in the KS3 National Curriculum Programmes of Study; in addition, it involves specific content within Geometry and Measures. The materials are most suited for pupils working between levels 4-7, although the open nature of the context also allows a more exploratory approach for lower attaining or younger pupils.

When working on DanceStar, pupils should consider how mathematics is embedded in dance, by identifying the various parts of a dance move and selecting the mathematical information, methods and tools to analyse and notate the move on paper.

The activity is predominantly creative, so pupils should realise that there cannot be any '‘right answers’'. They need to recognise that the '‘quality'’ of their solutions depends on whether other pupils and the teacher can make sense of them, and whether they provide evidence of their critical understanding.

(Details of the Concepts and Processes addressed and the Range and Content are included in the Lesson Guide.)

Organisation and pedagogy

The DanceStar case study supports 1-2 one-hour lessons of classroom activity with an option for related homework activities.

It includes teacher notes, pupil resources and computer software. The diversity of the dance moves makes it suitable for most pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9, although it will take longer with younger or lower attaining groups.

It should be introduced as a whole-class activity using a data projector. Following this, groups of pupils will need access to laptops or PCs to work independently.

In keeping with the Bowland ethos, the role of the teacher is to set the pupils realistic targets, to challenge them to think and reason for themselves and to manage discussions and plenary reporting sessions. Only as a last resort should techniques be demonstrated. Throughout, the goal is to develop pupils' ability to work and think independently.

Resources provided

The software comprises:

  • A short introductory video -– introducing the idea of describing and notating various styles of dance.
  • Video examples -– illustrating 7 styles of dance: Street dance, Group dance, Irish dance, Bollywood, Ballet, Flamenco and Robot.
  • Close-up videos -– showing 3 moves from each dance in close-up and slow motion for analysis.

The following print materials can be accessed through the software:

  • Lesson Guide -– for teachers – read the guide first, as it contains more details than this overview.
  • Pupil Recording Sheet -– for pupils to record their work on their chosen dance genre.
  • Ideas Sheet -– which contains a number of questions to stimulate further thoughts on dance notation in general.

Resource requirements

(including hardware & software)

  • The teacher will need a computer with data projector (or interactive whiteboard), sound output and speakers. The software is suitable for a Windows PC or an Apple Mac.
  • Pupils will need access to the DanceStar software: one computer for each small group of pupils is preferable – speakers or headphones will be needed.

The software can be run directly from the Bowland Maths website, or you can download the case study and copy it to the computer(s) you will be using during the lesson or to the school network.

The software requires a modern web browser with Adobe Flash Player installed. Windows users will also need Adobe Reader to view and print resources. These are both available for free download from

  • Copies of the Pupil Recording Sheet and the Ideas Sheet should be printed for each pupil to record their thoughts during the lessons.
Note: When printing PDF files, Please make sure that '‘page scaling’' is set to 'none'’, '‘no scaling’' or ‘'100%'’ to ensure that diagrams are printed to scale.