Elements of Dance

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


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)



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)



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

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



With vs without music

Duration (short/long)


Pattern (combinations of time)



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


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



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



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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