Unit of competency details

CUADAN302A - Increase depth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance technique (Release 1)


Usage recommendation:
Is superseded by and equivalent to CUADAN302 - Increase depth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance techniqueUpdated to meet Standards for Training Packages. 20/Nov/2013

ReleaseRelease date
1 1 (this release) 06/Oct/2011


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 100105 Dance  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 100105 Dance  12/Apr/2012 
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Modification History




This version first released with CUA11 Live Performance Training Package version 1.0

Unit Descriptor

This unit describes the skills and knowledge required to demonstrate culturally and technically appropriate execution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance forms and techniques. It is intended that this unit be delivered by and to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The knowledge required to achieve competency in this unit may only be accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and may be the cultural and intellectual property of specific communities. Respect and maintenance of community protocols would need to be adhered to.

Organisations delivering this unit would be expected to work closely with a local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community or Community Advisory Board (CAB). Information on the composition and role of CABs is provided in the Assessment Guidelines in CUA11 Live Performance Training Package.

Application of the Unit

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with some practical experience in traditional Indigenous Australian dance apply the skills and knowledge outlined in this unit. They could be performing as members of a group in events in the local community or in public performances for visitors to their region or community. The candidate is expected to increase expertise over time with considerable skills practice of technical exercises. Dancers should be able to perform traditional or cultural dances to a moderate level either alone or as an ensemble member.

Work performed requires a range of well-developed skills where some discretion and judgment are required and individuals are expected to take responsibility for their own outputs.

Licensing/Regulatory Information

No licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of publication.


Not applicable.

Employability Skills Information

This unit contains employability skills.

Elements and Performance Criteria Pre-Content


Performance Criteria 

Elements describe the essential outcomes of a unit of competency.

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element. Where bold italicised text is used, further information is detailed in the required skills and knowledge section and the range statement. Assessment of performance is to be consistent with the evidence guide.

Elements and Performance Criteria

1. Consolidate understanding of traditional Indigenous performing arts

1.1. Explore historical and contemporary aspects and roles of performing arts practice for individuals and families within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

1.2. Identify cultural values and principles  in relation to artistic performance within Indigenous Australian communities

1.3. Seek advice from relevant personnel  as required regarding customary law  principles and how they affect own dance practice

1.4. Discuss with relevant personnel the connection between traditional and contemporary cultural performing arts practice

2. Develop a body of information on the Australian cultural tourism industry

2.1. Determine interrelationships between cultural tourism, cultural heritage and performing arts industries  in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performing arts activities

2.2. Record, monitor and file information in simple and accessible ways

2.3. Use opportunities to update knowledge of the cultural tourism, cultural heritage and performing arts industries and incorporate relevant information into professional dance practice

3. Develop Indigenous Australian dance techniques

3.1. Identify the influence of customs and time in relation to dress or costuming, props, sets, music and cultural knowledge involved in dance activities of different styles of Indigenous Australian dances

3.2. Explore the relationships in which musical elements , dramatic role and performance techniques  form a distinctive character of particular pieces or performances

3.3. Establish a relationship with a performing arts mentor to determine the cultural protocols , purpose, style, content and protocol parameters of dance routines

3.4. Develop a mentoring plan , detailing support and assistance in consultation with a mentor  or professional dance performer

3.5. Choreograph  sequences of body movement activities  as simple dance performances in relation to a chosen cultural story or musical piece

3.6. Develop a repertoire of fluid positions, movements and actions in differing patterns and poses in conjunction with mentors

3.7. Seek feedback from relevant personnel to facilitate improvement in Indigenous Australian dance techniques

4. Demonstrate technical requirements of Indigenous Australian performance and material

4.1. Under direction of mentors employ appropriate cultural and aesthetic aspects  of Indigenous Australian community in the design of appropriate techniques, language and movements  to perform culturally appropriate solo and ensemble Indigenous Australian dance sequences

4.2. Perform sequences of dance movements and activities, alone and with others, which appropriately express cultural content and context, and accord with cultural, customary law, copyright and intellectual property requirements

4.3. Explore and apply methods used to ensure cultural maintenance  in relation to performing cultural or cultural tourism Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance

4.4. Follow cultural protocols, ethics and traditions when rehearsing and performing

5. Maintain health and safety during dance performance

5.1. Take responsibility for own and others’ safety in compliance with OHS  policies during practice and performance of dance routines

5.2. Implement strategies that ensure environmentally friendly  impact of dance performances

5.3. Establish and maintain a positive personal work ethic 

5.4. Respond to opportunities to enhance cultural and technical skills  and knowledge

5.5. Seek audience feedback and apply continuous improvement strategies to performance techniques

Required Skills and Knowledge

This section describes the skills and knowledge required for this unit.

Required skills 

  • communication skills to:
  • discuss dance and physical conditioning issues with relevant personnel
  • implement conflict management and negotiation skills as required
  • respond appropriately to feedback on own skill development and performance
  • participate in, monitor and review mentoring arrangements with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • initiative and enterprise skills to:
  • choreograph simple movement sequences
  • dance with confidence and projection
  • investigate and employ relevant cultural protocols and culturally appropriate communication
  • observe protocols appropriate to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in dance performances
  • learning skills to:
  • incorporate expression of appropriate dramatic nuance and movement into performance pieces
  • improve own Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance techniques through practice, performances and ongoing commitment to dance performance
  • improvise movement sequences
  • literacy skills to:
  • identify, read and understand cultural, tourism or performing arts industry information
  • undertake research and interpret research findings
  • planning and organising skills to:
  • plan and execute own warm-up and cool-down routines
  • prepare for performances
  • plan practice time
  • self-management skills to:
  • arrive punctually at classes, rehearsals and performances
  • dress appropriately
  • follow procedures to minimise the environmental impact of performance activities on the environment
  • observe dance discipline and follow direction
  • follow safe dance practices at all times
  • teamwork skills to work collaboratively with others involved in dance classes and performances
  • technology skills to search for and download information from the internet.

Required knowledge 

  • overview knowledge of:
  • OHS in the context of performing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance
  • stagecraft as it relates to dancers, including:
  • costumes
  • make-up
  • props
  • lighting
  • structures and roles or functions of cultural heritage, cultural tourism and performing arts industries, including their interrelationships, occupational and industry legislation, licensing and accreditation schemes
  • well-developed knowledge of:
  • values and major features in contemporary Indigenous Australian cultures
  • traditions of ownership and protocols relating to created work and dance performance in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, including:
  • music
  • artefacts
  • body painting
  • costumes
  • history and role of performing arts within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and ways in which values and protocols may impact on work practices in different environments, including:
  • commercialisation of cultural material
  • tourism
  • intellectual property
  • knowledge of protocols in relation to moral rights
  • copyright of the physical expression of cultural material, including appropriation
  • legislative and regulatory requirements within the performing arts industry
  • legislative and regulatory requirements regarding customary law, including:
  • Australian Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property
  • those of the National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association
  • choreographic techniques
  • principles underlying dance movements and techniques, such as:
  • relationship with gravity
  • spatial awareness
  • successional movement
  • use of breath
  • folding
  • extending
  • rotating
  • shifting weight
  • anatomical foundations, including:
  • articulation of the spine
  • engagement of the feet
  • bases of support, including feet, legs, hands, arms and torso
  • range of motion of the joints
  • differentiation of the legs and pelvis
  • importance of healthy food choices in relation to wellbeing and injury prevention, including five food groups and recommended daily amounts
  • musical rhythms, including:
  • time signatures
  • beat
  • tempo
  • syncopation
  • principles of interpersonal communication
  • performing arts terminology.

Evidence Guide

The evidence guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package.

Overview of assessment 

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit 

Evidence of the ability to:

  • express knowledge of the context and structure of cultural systems within relevant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including the role of dance, story-telling, music and body painting as expressions of cultural systems
  • discuss the implications of cultural heritage, cultural tourism and performing arts industries on the context and performance of Indigenous Australian dance sequences
  • apply Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community cultural beliefs and protocols when working with people from various communities
  • develop a mentoring relationship, including the ability to negotiate the terms of a professional relationship
  • safely and cooperatively execute basic dance movement appropriate to Indigenous Australian dance forms.

Context of and specific resources for assessment 

Assessment may take place on the job, off the job (for example in communities and training organisations) or a combination of on and off the job.

This unit requires access to:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders, custodians and other culturally knowledgeable people authorised by their communities to act as mentors in performance disciplines
  • appropriate dance performance areas or spaces, including outdoor locations
  • relevant instruments, sets, props, costuming and other equipment
  • music, stories, and dance ensembles
  • performance opportunities.

Trainers and assessors in this unit should be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people validated by the Community Advisory Board set up to oversee implementation of this training. They must ensure that the cultural and intellectual property rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are protected.

Method of assessment 

While the knowledge can be tested in written and oral assignments, performance evidence needs to be collected in actual or realistic simulated situations. It also needs to be assessed on a number of occasions.

A range of assessment methods should be used to assess practical skills and knowledge. The following examples are appropriate for this unit:

  • direct questioning combined with review of portfolios of evidence
  • third-party workplace reports of on-the-job performance
  • group discussion
  • evaluation of live or recorded performances
  • journal work, including recording and evaluating the dance methodology, and evaluating the performance
  • verbal or written questioning to test knowledge as listed in the required skills and knowledge section of this unit
  • case studies and scenarios as a basis for discussion of issues and challenges that arise in the context of developing dance performance skills
  • direct observation of candidate in rehearsals and performances.

Assessment methods should closely reflect workplace demands (e.g. literacy) and the needs of particular groups (e.g. people with disabilities and people who may have literacy or numeracy difficulties, such as speakers of languages other than English, remote communities and those with interrupted schooling).

Training and assessment can be undertaken in conjunction with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons.

Guidance information for assessment 

Holistic assessment with other units relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role is recommended, for example:

  • CUADAN301A Explore rhythm in the context of dance or movement technique
  • CUAOHS301A Condition the body for dance performances.

Range Statement

The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording, if used in the performance criteria, is detailed below. Essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) may also be included.

Cultural values and principles  may include: 

  • sensitive cultural values and principles, including:
  • acceptance within and by the community as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person
  • understanding and maintenance of own lore, land and traditions (cultural identity issues)
  • internal family and community construction politics
  • levels of acknowledgement and respect for:
  • customs
  • cultural values
  • religious expression
  • personal and group responsibility and dignity
  • social and cultural differences, including:
  • structure of community representation and powers of delegation
  • differing approaches to the concept of respect
  • particular individual and community circumstances and histories:
  • place or geographical location
  • access to services, such as education, health and transport
  • language, such as Aboriginal English, Torres Strait Kriol, and traditional languages
  • cultural diversity
  • cultural groupings
  • skin, country and language groups
  • family structures
  • kinship
  • women’s roles
  • men’s roles
  • relationship to land and customs
  • racism and discrimination
  • issues that may affect an individual’s cultural identity
  • relationships between land, sea, lore, law, family and ancestors
  • recognition, respect and compliance with Indigenous laws and economy
  • nature of performing arts, including:
  • significance of cultural arts within a given community
  • ways in which performance of dance is culturally appropriately promoted and distributed.
  • economic significance, including:
  • positive impacts on local community economy
  • role of the arts within community development
  • link between the arts and other areas of economic activity, such as tourism.

Relevant personnel  may include: 

  • choreographers
  • community members
  • custodians
  • elders
  • managers
  • mentors
  • performers
  • supervisors.

Customary law  may include:

  • rules, values, traditions and protocols governing behaviour in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and contexts
  • customs and protocols as required in particular locations and situations, such as:
  • access to information
  • use of signs, symbols, movement or musical sequences
  • communication protocols expected to be followed
  • beliefs and traditions related to land, sea, lore, law, family and ancestors.

Differences between cultural tourism, cultural heritage and performing arts industries  may include:

  • local, state and federal industry structures, codes, ethics, roles and markets within the tourism industry
  • natural heritage, culture and tourism as a public domain and the maintenance of cultural integrity
  • role of cultural heritage for local Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities
  • tourism markets and their relevance to industry sectors, including employment and career opportunities
  • ways of working within the Indigenous Australian context, in particular customary law, values and beliefs
  • understanding the needs and rights of all relevant parties.

Musical elements  may refer to:

  • acoustics
  • aesthetic qualities
  • beat
  • cultural context
  • dynamics
  • expression
  • form or structure
  • genre
  • harmony and chords
  • interpretation
  • melody
  • notation
  • nuance
  • ornamentation
  • phrasing
  • pitch
  • rhythm
  • scales
  • sound production
  • tempo
  • timbre or tone colour
  • time signatures
  • tonality.

Performance techniques  may include:

  • application of stagecraft, for example stage directions, such as:
  • back of stage
  • centre of stage
  • down stage
  • appropriate timing
  • breathing
  • communication with audience
  • coordinated symmetrical and asymmetrical movements
  • demonstrated awareness of performance practice in the style or musical context
  • improvisation
  • musical interpretation of rhythm and style
  • spatial awareness
  • stage presence and dramatic nuance
  • using strength and agility relevant to dance form.

Cultural protocols :

  • must include:
  • rules of behaviour governing communication, access to and use of cultural information and practices that form the heritage of the diverse range of Aboriginal societies and Torres Strait Islander societies
  • full set of protocols of a particular community or cultural grouping, which is likely to be unique
  • following community protocols and rules of behaviour, including:
  • obtaining and sharing information and materials
  • visiting individuals and communities and requesting permission for activities
  • strategies may include:
  • non-verbal techniques, such as gestures
  • display of positive regard and respect
  • non-judgemental approaches
  • forming partnerships with all cultural groups to achieve particular work goals
  • monitoring and reflecting on own actions to ensure cultural values are not imposed on others.

Mentoring plan  must include:

  • agreed reporting mechanisms
  • agreed timeframes
  • monitoring and review strategies
  • objectives
  • purpose
  • rights and responsibilities of each party
  • roles, including cultural, personal and professional.

Choreographic  techniques may refer to:

  • imposition
  • improvisation
  • dance composition
  • notation
  • cultural and aesthetic aspects of Indigenous Australian dance performance, such as:
  • body paint
  • make-up
  • hair
  • costuming
  • sets
  • scenery
  • stagecraft
  • venue
  • maximising cultural maintenance in choreography and performance of dance for multicultural expression.

Body movement activities  may include:

  • upper and lower body movements:
  • adaptation and development for body movement
  • combining movement sequences using leaps, jumps, swinging, stretching, turning in position and moving
  • combining weight transfer and non-weight transfer techniques
  • working in even or uneven timing and uncommon metre
  • executing sequences with frequent changes of facing
  • direction
  • coordinating movement with others
  • moving with safety and consideration for others
  • balanced positions, including:
  • elevation of steps
  • body positions
  • transitions while in motion and while stationary.

Cultural and aesthetic aspects  may include:

  • application of physical, spiritual and conceptual perspectives of choreography
  • lore emanating from land, landscape or location that encapsulates and defines movement, including:
  • mimicry
  • body markings and painting
  • make-up
  • costuming
  • use of props, sets and scenes
  • interpretation and application of music or song
  • roles
  • expression of emotion and meaning
  • traditional gender roles and responsibilities in relation to dance performance
  • children’s dances
  • what may be imparted to particular audiences and how
  • improvisational techniques.

Techniques, language and movement  may include:

  • knowledge of physical, spiritual and conceptual perspectives on the choreography of traditional dance form
  • visualisation
  • appropriate timing, posture and attitude
  • rhythm and style
  • improvisation
  • footwork
  • coordination and eye focus appropriate to the form
  • kinaesthetic awareness
  • physical alignment
  • musicality
  • dance forms, including:
  • styles or kinds of dance performance characteristic of particular language groups, regions or cultural purpose, or gender or age of dancers
  • use of community-appropriate:
  • body or face marking
  • vocal and speech patterns
  • body language
  • humour
  • costuming
  • props
  • music
  • knowledge
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance sequences must include:
  • documented consideration of the relationship and contribution of cultural identity and personal politics to choreographic interpretation, characterisation and performance
  • structured performance parameters
  • target audience and venue parameters.

Cultural maintenance  must include:

  • protection and sustainability of:
  • natural and cultural integrity
  • stories
  • song lines
  • spiritual practices
  • artefacts
  • sites of significance
  • language
  • responsibilities and obligations to individuals, country and the community
  • authentic replication of approved:
  • cultural stories
  • music in the dance form for demonstration of culture outside the community environment
  • issues relating to protection and appropriate exploitation of cultural heritage material, including:
  • Indigenous communal rights
  • Indigenous cultural and intellectual property
  • laws relating to fraud and forgery
  • import and export of culturally significant objects
  • issues that may threaten beliefs and knowledge related to traditional land, sea, lore, law, family and ancestors.

OHS  must include:

  • identifying hazards and assessing risks
  • using flooring that is maintained, sufficiently spaced and appropriate for full body activities
  • lighting, heating and air-conditioning that meet regulations
  • legislation and regulation of OHS for the entertainment industry
  • appropriate workwear
  • adequate footcare and use of appropriate footwear
  • awareness of repetitive movement, fatigue and prevention of injuries
  • manual handling
  • identifying and addressing specific health implications
  • maintaining a physical conditioning program.

Environmentally friendly  must include:

  • maintenance of sustainable environment, including:
  • applying measures to reduce energy consumption, such as:
  • light emitting diode (LED) lights or fluorescent light bulbs
  • turning lights off when not in use
  • recycling materials
  • reducing water usage, such as sweeping rather than hosing
  • maintaining biodiversity and protecting habitat from damage
  • being aware of air quality and noise.

Personal work ethic  may refer to:

  • attentive behaviour in creative practice
  • awareness of:
  • substance abuse
  • addictive behaviours
  • expectations of others
  • eating disorders
  • effective management of personal finances
  • balanced diet
  • energy levels and personal limitations
  • stage and theatre etiquette
  • developing strategies to:
  • cope with performance anxiety
  • maintain motivation
  • effective personal hygiene habits, such as:
  • clean and short nails
  • clean and tied-up hair
  • clean hands
  • ongoing dedication to a physical conditioning exercise program
  • maintaining costumes and other apparel
  • maintaining a work-life balance
  • punctuality and reliability
  • working creatively with individual differences.

Opportunities to enhance cultural and technical skills  may include:

  • audience feedback
  • implementing continuous improvement strategies
  • ongoing evaluation as per mentoring plan
  • research
  • affiliations with industry and community bodies and professional dance organisations
  • ongoing implementation of strategies to maintain peak performance
  • ongoing practice of dance techniques.

Unit Sector(s)

Performing arts - dance

Custom Content Section

Not applicable.