Aboriginal dance in Australia

Students investigate the history of Aboriginal dance in Australia, from traditional styles to Bangarra fusing contemporary and Aboriginal dance together.

Students will explore how Aboriginal cultures, languages and traditions are maintained through our ever-changing society. Students will explore PowerPoint presentations, YouTube clips and practical workshops within Aboriginal dance. Students will explore the development of this style in Australia throughout time while gaining knowledge of the importance and significance it holds.


  • 4.3.1 describes dance performances through the elements of dance
  • 4.3.2 identifies that dance works of art express ideas.
  • 5.3.1 describes and analyse dance as the communication of ideas within a context
  • 5.3.2 identifies and analyses the link between their performances and compositions and dance works of art
  • 5.3.3 applies understandings and experiences drawn from their own work and dance works of art


8 weeks.

Driving question

How is traditional Aboriginal culture expressed in contemporary society?


Students will explore the history of Aboriginal dance in Australia, looking at traditional styles of dance through to a fusion of contemporary and traditional styles, demonstrating our 21st Century society.

  • Aboriginal and Indigenous
  • Difference and diversity
  • Gender
  • Environment
  • Literacy

Process Diary

Students are to:

  • document the process through practical classes in a process diary. This should be a journal, exploring reflections of each practical lesson engaging in Aboriginal dance. This can be their class workbooks, a dance process diary, or an online blog through sites such as Class Notebook or Google classroom.
  • investigate Aboriginal dance through a literacy lens, embedding discussions, summarising and TEEEC paragraphing in written form. These processes used follow literacy structures, language forms and features, as seen in the DoE text type support document.


All activities require students to demonstrate their learning and are all formative assessment activities.

Teaching and learning activities

Students are to work both individually and as a group through discussion-based activities throughout this unit. Students will investigate Aboriginal dance through traditional styles to modern contemporary styles in written and practical forms.

Suggested student learning activities include:

  • discussion and summarising strategies around Aboriginal dance
  • TEEEC structuring to form sophisticated paragraphing, working with the TEEEC scaffold provided (PDF 4.3 MB)
  • research and investigate Aboriginal dance in Australia through thought-provoking questions and the activities below.

Working through the Aboriginal dance in Australia presentation, students will:

  • discuss and explore prior knowledge of Aboriginal dance
  • answer the questions:
    • What do you already know about Aboriginal dance?
    • What do you think is the purpose of Aboriginal dance?
    • Are there different roles for males and females?
    • How is the rhythm in dance maintained?

Working through the Aboriginal dance in Australia presentation (PPTX 8 MB), students will:

  • summarise information from the PowerPoint presentation, learning summarising techniques
  • choose 10 of the most important words on the slide, and then create their own sentences
  • watch the Aboriginal crane dance and discuss the movement quality
  • watch the Aboriginal dream time war dance in a modern setting and describe how Aboriginal Australians keep their cultures, languages and traditions alive in the video.

Working through the Aboriginal dance in Australia presentation, students will:

  • summarise information from the PowerPoint presentation, enhancing summarising techniques.
  • choose 10 of the most important words on the slide, and then create their own sentences
  • create a TEEEC (PDF 4.3 MB) paragraph exploring what Bangarra represents to Aboriginal Australia
  • view the clip Bangarra dance theatre: Spirit and describe the movement quality
  • view the clip on Bangarra dance: Brolga and discuss how this style of dance is similar or different to the Aboriginal dance they are familiar with
  • write a TEEEC paragraph explaining how traditional Aboriginal culture is being expressed in a contemporary society.

Students will discuss and explore Stephen Page's role in Bangarra.

Working through the Aboriginal dance in Australia presentation, students will:

  • watch Firestarter and explore the intent, stimulus, research, and movement inspiration
  • watch Wild Things: Animal on stage and discuss the style of dance, how music aids the performance and the elements of nature used as inspiration
  • explore the website Google arts and culture: Bangarra and write a TEEEC paragraph analysing Bangarra's use of the elements of production, including aural accompaniment, stage production, lighting and costuming within their works.

When structuring the lessons work through the above sections across the entire unit. Attempt to explore one theory/appreciation lesson per week, to ensure focus is placed on practical work within the program. Attempt to engage in practical work exploring Aboriginal dance, both traditional and with a modern contemporary fusion.

Students are to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of traditional Aboriginal dance in Australia
  • explore and engage in performance opportunities embodying Aboriginal dance in both traditional and modern forms.



Students could:

  • investigate a work by Bangarra Dance Theatre Company and write a review outlining and analysing the effectiveness of the modern Aboriginal dance style.

Life skills


  • LS 3.1

Students could:

  • experience a range of dance styles through film and class performance
  • perform in the style of Aboriginal dance, exploring animalistic qualities
  • perform this routine to their class.


Feedback is formative for the duration of the unit.

This sequence and accompanying worksheets are available as word documents below:


Please note:

Syllabus outcomes and content descriptors from Dance 7–10 Syllabus (2003) © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2017.

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