Elements of Dance

Here is my personal “cheat sheet” for the Elements of Dance. Click here for a PDF version.

BODY

Body awareness (body position, where one is in relation to people and objects)

Body parts (muscles, bones, joints, organs, breath, head, shoulders, arms, hands,

back, ribs, hips, legs, feet, fingers, toes, face, elbows, knees)

Shapes (big, small, angular, stretched, twisted, curved, open, closed)

Non-locomotor mvmts (plie, rise, stretch, grow, spin, fold, bow, hop, jump, turn,

lift, pull, march, wave arms, twist, rock, shake, sway, collapse, stretch)

Locomotor mvmts (run, gallop, skip, roll, crawl, creep, leap, dart, walk, slide)

Body bases (seat, back, side, knee)

Body zones (upper, lower, right, left, front, back, lateral, cross-lateral)

Symmetry vs Asymmetry

Geometric vs organic shape

Curved vs angular shape

Isolation of body parts

Weight transfer (lunge, leap, roll)

 

SPACE

Levels (low, middle, high, expanding, contracting)

Size of movement

Pathways (straight, curvy, zig zag, in air, on floor, circular)

General vs personal space

Directions (forwards, backwards, sideways, turning, diagonal)

Focus (direction of gaze)

Positive vs negative space

Proximity of dancer to one another

Various group formations (circle, square, tiangle, semi-circle, pairs, trios, clumps)

Use of performance space (large, confined)

 

TIME

Tempo (slow, sustained, fast, stop/start, sudden, quick)

Rhythm (even, uneven, steady, regular, irregular, erratic)

Pause

Stillness

With vs without music

Duration (short/long)

Acceleration/deceleration

Pattern (combinations of time)

 

ENERGY

Effort (pressing, gliding, attack, heavy, light)

Force (lightness, strength, tight, loose)

Quality (melt, twitch, slump, explode, bounce, shake, smooth, delicate,

cautiously, erratically, percussively, sustained, punch, thrust, float, collapse, wiggle, explode, vibrate, slash, press, shrink, open)

Inaction vs action

Percussion

Fluidity (glide, slink, fall, shiver, wring, dab, mould, flow, bind, balanced)

 

RELATIONSHIP

Dancers to props/objects (in, on, around, etc)

Opposition

Meet/part

Follow/lead (partners, groups)

Emotional connections between dancers

Groupings (large & small groups)

Group conventions (unison, cannon, levels, facings, call & response, variations)

 

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