Dance as literature



Dance is an emotional expression, an affective extension of the heart. Types include: ballet, waltz, tango, swing, modern ...

Elements of Dance

  • Time includes the amount of time needed to do a movement, pause, or freeze. Key factors include: rhythm and musicality, length of the dance and the time signature.
  • Space is the area around the dancer, the designs (shapes made by the body in space or the patterns as the dancer moves around in space), the changes in direction (forward, backward, sideways, or diagonally) that the moves, and the levels of space (low, middle, high) occupied by the dancer.
  • Energy is the amount of force that is put into a movement or how a movement is performed, whether a soft, harsh, swing, vibratory, flowing, or punching movement.


  • Adagio (a daj ee oh): Slow; sustained movements usually in the center of the floor,
    developing a sense of line, balance, and grace.
  • Allegro (a leg ro): Light, brisk movements with a fast tempo.
  • Ballerina is a principal female dancer in a professional dance company. If a dance company
    has several ballerinas, the star is usually classified as the prima ballerina.
  • Ballet is an artistic form of theatrical dance with a tradition of classical technique.
  • Bane is a hand rail which is intended to aid the dancer's balance during exercises,
  • Bounces are actions similar to a bouncing ball. The impulse of the movement is downward and usually followed by a rebound. Bounces are generally used during the class warm-up period.
  • Brushes is a technique for stretching ankles and feet. The action involves the lifting of a straight leg and return with the foot remaining in contact with the floor as long as possible.
  • Chasse (sha say) is a step of elevation with one foot chasing or foliowing the other.
  • Choreographer is a person who composes dances.
  • Choreography is the art of dance composition.
  • Contraction-release is a movement principle basic to the technique of Martha Graham
    (Graham Technique), involving the shortening (contraction) and lengthening (release) of
    muscles as it correiates to the inhalation and exhalation of the breath.
  • Corps de Ballet is a group of dancers who perform as an ensemble and/or in supportive roles,
    as in classical story ballet.
  • Danseur Noble (dahn ser nobi) is a classical male dancer, The leading male dancer is called the
    premier danseur (pruh meeair dohn ser).
  • Demi-Plie (dun mee plee ay) is a partial bending of the knees with the heels remaining on the
  • Ethnic dance is a dance associated with a particular culture or geographical area. Often part of
    tribal rituals, designed to highlight crucial moments in people's lives.
  • Fall-recovery (Rebound) is a movement principle basic to the technique of Doris Humphrey that involves a controlled response to the pull of gravity downward (fall), a rebound at the bottom of the fall, a return response against gravity (recovery), and a suspension of the movement flow at the top of the recovery,
  • First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth Positions are adopted from the classical ballet, these refer to
    positions of the feet and arms. Used to vary techniques and extend the range of movement.
  • Folk Dance are dances that have been handed down through the generations. Origins of folk
    dances are unclear, Social folk dances were often associated with ceremonial occasions
    (births, weddings, deaths), while mystical or religious dances were used to communicate with
    gods, or dietes.
  • Grand Pile (grahn plee ay) is a deep knee bend with the heels coming off the floor and the
    legs turned out. Note, heels remain on the floor in a grand pue in 2nd poition.
  • Leap is a propulsive movement into the air with the transfer of weight from the take-off foot to the landing foot. The emphasis can be verticie or horizontal. Ankles and knees can be flexed or extended while the body is in the air.
  • Leg swings are an easy, loose movement of the leg in either a forward-backward or a side-side
  • Locomotor Movements are simple step patterns common to all forms of dance that move through space. These include sliding, skipping, running, hopping, and jumping.
  • Lunge is a position in which the front leg is bent end either turned out or parallel and the back
    leg is straight.
  • Modern dance is a dance form that relies upon derived movement initiated by on individual
    artistic expression. Much of today's modem dance technique is founded upon the movement
    theories of dance pioneers Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey.
  • Non-Locomotor Movement are movements that occur around the body's axis while the body
    remains stationary and balanced (supported).
  • Parallel is a position in which the feet and legs of the dancer are facing directly forward (not
    turned out).
  • Pivot is a motion of the designated foot against the floor that turns the body to face a new
  • Pile (plee ay) is French, meaning to bend the knee or knees. This is one of the
    most important foundations in dance, A demi-plie is a half bend with the heels remaining on
    the floor. A grand plie (or full pile) is a full bend with the heels leaving the floor in 1st, 3rd, 4th,
    and 5th positions. Note; Heels remain on the floor in a grand pile in 2nd position.
  • Prance is a locomotor step, variant of running. The free leg is lifted forward, knee flexed, ankle
    extended. The movement is sharp and precise.
  • Releve (reh leh vay) is a raising of the body onto the balls of the feet, usually from demi-plie.
  • Triplet is a step combination similar to a waltz except that each of the three steps is taken in
    open position. Accent is usually given to the first of each three steps, as a pile. The best way
    to remember a triplet is to say, down-up-up.
  • Turn-out is the rotation of the legs outward from the hip joint or socket to increase movement potential of the legs. Turn-out gives the dancer freedom of movement in all positions.
  • Tutu is a ballet costume for women. There are two types of tutu's: long and short.



Native American drum dances

    1. play a song and/or video of a Native American dance group
    2. Discuss the chanting in relation to the dance steps
    3. Discuss how the dancers movement can be explained for each element of dance.
      • Time the movement to the beat (fast/slow...
      • Space are they together or apart. Body spacing of arm and leg movement. Change of direction. Are there patterns of individual and group movement?
      • Energy of movement.

Videos with dances to view, critique, and perform.

  • Barnyard dance coverBarnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton 1993 Picture book with musical verses for a banyard dance with barnyard animals as partners.
    Stomp your feet! Clap your hands! Everybody ready for a barnyard dance!

    Animals include: horse, cow, pig, bunny, duck, chickens, mice, donkey, sheep, chicks,turkey, frog, dog, and some of the sounds they make. 2008 edition had CD single with the song - audio on sound cloud
  • Bella in Beauty and the Beast her dance is very important in developing the plot of the movie.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis and Arnold in True Lies - Classic slap stick Arnold sitting on chair watching, didn't know she was going to fall down, starts to get up to help and sits back down. Yea really, See it in the video.
  • Parade scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off Like the Pied Piper worked great considering they actually had permission to shout it during a real parade and had to get it done in one shot as they wouldn't stop the parade. They really rocked the street with Twist and Shout.
  • Mike Myers in Austin Powers -opening scene dancing in the back lot to a Beatles's song.
  • Flash Dance - "What a Feeling" with Jennifer Beals and Sharon Shapiro does the spins.
  • Save the Last Dance Sean ... Never danced. Had a dance coach and dance double, Earl Punch. Dance partner Julia ... was very good and the director asked her not to be so good.
  • Jennifer Lopez and Matthew in Wedding Planner ... How hard is it to dance head to head and have a dialogue?
  • Romy and Michelle High School Reunion dance scene Did they put every annoying dance step into this one dance?
  • Dance With Me Cayanne Salsa Vanessa Williams... floating dance shot from crane.
  • The Mask wanted to cut the dance scene but it is what adds personality to the character and tone to the video...
  • Animal House ...
  • I've Had the Time of My Life in Dirty Dancing
  • Others ...


After the Rain choreography by Christopher Wheeldon - Performed by Victoria Jaiani, Temur Suluashvili at the gala concert for marking the 90th anniversary of Vera Tsignadze on January 31, 2015.


Sequence of Introduction of Creative Movement and Dance Elements across grade levels

Element Kindergarten 1-2 3-4 5-6
  • Recognize fast and slow movements
  • March and clap to a beat
  • Recognize fast and slow movements with music
  • Recognize adagio as slow, sustained movements.
  • Recognize allegro as light brisk movements
  • Move arms and legs to change direction, make patterns, and identify low, middle, and high space
  • Perform a pivot, brush, chasse, and demi-plie to interpret space.
  • Make movements by sliding, skipping, running, hopping, jumping, to express feeling
  • Perform movements in time with music to express feeling.
  • Perform a leap.
  • Perform movements to express differences in energy.





Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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