AB: A two-part compositional form with an A theme and a B
theme; the binary form consists of two distinct, self-contained
sections that share either a character or quality (such as the same
tempo, movement quality, or style).
ABA: A three-part compositional form in which the second
section contrasts with the first section. The third section is a
restatement of the first section in a condensed, abbreviated, or
Abduction: The movement of a body part away from the
Abstract: To remove movement from a particular or
representative context and, by manipulating it through the elements
of space, time, and energy, create a new sequence or dance that
retains the essence of the original.
Accumulation: Repeating a sequence with the addition of
one movement each time (e.g. 1, 12, 123, etc).
Adduction: The movement of a body part toward the
Aesthetic criteria: Standards on which to make judgments
about the artistic merit of a work of art.
Alignment: Proper anatomical placement.
Call and Response: An African tradition which refers to a
dance leader who calls out or demonstrates dance steps to which the
group responds by repeating or performing the correct steps or
Canon: Movement which is performed identically but with
multiple entry points.
Choreographic structure: The specific compositional forms
in which movement is structured to create a dance, such as theme,
variation, canon, ABA, rondo, etc.
Choreography: 1. The process of making a dance which
involves the understanding of choreographic principles, processes,
and structures. 2. The product that results from the process of
Circumduction: The movement of a body part so that its
end follows a circular pathway.
Composition: 1. A dance which has been created. 2. The
way in which the parts of a dance are put together to form a
Contrast: To compare or oppose two contrasting movements
to show their differences. Movements might be different in terms of
energy, space, design, or time.
Design: The general form of arrangement of movement or
Dynamics: The energy of movement expressed in varying
intensity, accent, and quality.
Effort actions: Press, flick, punch, float, slash, glide,
Effort: Actions, as defined by Rudolf Laban, that are
analyzed in terms of weight, time, space, and flow factors.
Energy: The amount of tension or stress of a movement;
the flow and control of force. It is defined by the degrees of
impetus and follow through which are employed.
Ensemble: 1. A group of dancers. 2. A feeling of
continuity or togetherness that exists in performing dance.
Extension: Increasing the angle of a joint.
Flexion: A bending or folding movement in which the angle
of a joint decreases.
Flocking: A group activity that changes leaders as
Form: The overall structural organization of a dance
composition (e.g. AB, ABA, Call and Response, etc).
General space: A defined area of space through which
dancers can travel using all the available space.
Genre: A type or category of dance (e.g. jazz, modern,
Gesture: A movement of the body or a part of the body
used to express an idea or emotion. Such movement could include a
wave, handshake, head nod, shaking of the fist, etc. Ritual
gestures may include gestures that are part of ceremonies or
functional gestures such as brushing teeth or washing clothes.
Hyperextension: Extreme extension of a joint.
Improvisation: Movement that is created spontaneously,
occurring within free or highly structured environments, but always
with an element of chance. Provides the dancer with the opportunity
to bring together elements quickly, and requires focus and
Informance: A sharing or showing of dance that
demonstrates the process for how students arrive at the product or
performance as a result of instruction, rather than focusing solely
on the end result. An informance may include explanation or
Interdisciplinary dance: A dance experience that explores
specific dance concepts and related concepts from other content
areas or disciplines.
Kinesthetic awareness: The ability of the body's sensory
organs in the muscles, tendons, and joints to respond to stimuli
while dancing or viewing dance.
Labanotation: A symbolic notation for recording human and
animal movement developed by Rudolph Laban.
Levels: The height of the dancer in relation to the
floor. Levels in space are referred to as high, middle, and
Locomotor movement: Movement that travels from place to
place, usually identified by weight transference. Basic locomotor
movements are walk, run, leap, hop, jump, skip, slide, and
Manipulation: A choreographic tool that helps to change
and develop a movement or phrase.
Mirroring: A partnering activity that involves
simultaneously following a leader's movement while facing that
Narrative: A choreographic structure that is
representational and in the form of a story.
Negative space: The empty or open space created when the
body makes a shape.
Non-locomotor/axial movement: Any movement that does not
travel, but uses the available space in any direction or movement
organized around the axis of the body (axial movement). Bending,
twisting, stretching, and swinging are examples of axial
Pantomime: Simulation of reality through movement.
Pathway: The path traced as movement proceeds through
space. A pathway may be either on the floor or through the air and
is constructed of straight and/or curved lines.
Pedestrian movement: Everyday movement that may be
incorporated into a dance.
Performance: 1. To execute movements. 2. A presentation
of dance choreography.
Personal space: The "space bubble" or the kinesphere that
one occupies; it includes all levels, planes, and directions, both
near and far from the body's center.
Phrase: A brief sequence of related movements that have a
sense of rhythmic completion.
Positive space: The filled space created by the body when
a shape is made in space.
Retrograde: A compositional manipulation in which the
movements in a phrase are performed from the end to the beginning
as if rewinding the movements.
Rhythm: A structure of movement patterns in time.
Rondo: A form based on alternation between a repeated
section (A) and contrasting episodes (B, C, etc) i.e. ABACA.
Rotation: The pivoting of a bone on its axis
(internal-toward the body midline; external-away from the body
Sequence: The continuation and order in which a series of
movements and shapes occurs.
Shape: The spatial contour the body makes such as curved,
angular, twisted, straight, symmetrical, or asymmetrical.
Space: The unlimited area which extends in all directions
and within which all things exist. It involves use of level,
pathway, shape, positive and negative space, general and personal
space, size, focus, and direction.
Style: A distinctive manner of moving; the characteristic
way dance is done, created, or performed that identifies the dance
of a particular performer, choreographer, or period.
Technology: Electronic media that can be used in dance
such as videotapes, camcorders, CD and cassette players, stage
lighting and sound, cameras, and computer software and
Tempo: The speed of a movement such as fast, moderate, or
Theme and variation: A form in which an initial theme is
established and then followed by variations. The variations are
excursions from or alternative treatments of this basic theme
without altering its essential character.
Theme: The underlying idea/motif or intent used to create
Time: A concept which organizes movement; it encompasses
tempo, rhythm, and duration.
Transition: Organize connection between dance movements
that maintains flow and continuity in the dance.
Unison: Movements which are performed simultaneously and
identically by more than one dancer.
Unity: A feeling of wholeness in a dance which is
achieved when all of the parts work well together.
Variation: Manipulation of the original movement without
losing the intent and character.
Warm-up: Movements and/or movement phrases designed to
raise the core body temperature, move the body through a
preparatory range of movement, and bring the mind into focus for