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Dance is a way of knowing and
communicating. All societies use dance
to communicate on both personal and
cultural levels and to meet physical and
spiritual needs.
Dance, as with all the arts, has its own
language. We need to learn this language in
order to fully understand and appreciate the
world of Dance.
The Language of Dance
Elements: Time, Space and Force
Choreographic Forms: Theme and
Variations, Rondo and Narrative
Styles: (characteristics of)
Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Modern
Elements
TIME: The relationship of one movement or part of a movement
to another. Includes pulse, speed (or tempo), duration, rhythm, and
phrases.
Pulse: the ongoing underlying beat
Tempo: The speed with which a movement is performed
Duration: the length of time a movement lasts: a long time, short
time or something in between
Rhythm: a flow of sound or movement having regular accented beats; a
movement or activity in which some action repeats regularly;
patterns made by arranging long and short sounds or strong and
light sounds
Syncopation: a temporary accenting of a normally weak beat in music to
vary the rhythm
Phrasing: a grouping and articulation of a group of notes
Accent: a movement or shape performed in such a way as to give
emphasis.
Elements
• SPACE: the area of space occupied by the dancer’s body;
includes direction, size, pathways, levels and shapes.
•
Direction: which way a dancer faces or moves; e.g., forward,
backward, sideways, up and down
• Size: magnitude of a body shape or movement; from small to large
movements
• Pathways: patterns made as a dancer moves through the air or on the
floor (straight, vertical, horizontal, zig-zag); can be made with
locomotor or non-locomotor movements, separately or in combination.
• Levels: the vertical distance from the floor. Movements take place on
three levels: high, middle or low and deep.
• Shapes: the form created by the body’s position in space. Aspects of
shape are open/closed, symmetrical/asymmetrical, angular and curved.
Elements
• FORCE: (energy) degree of muscular
tension and use of energy while moving.
• Dynamics: how a movement is done
• Flow: continuity of movement
(bound/free flowing)
• Weight: strength (force) lightness of
movement (heavy/light)
Choreographic Forms
Choreography is the art of arranging dances
Theme: the basic idea of the play, which the author
dramatizes through the conflict of characters.
Rondo: a dance structure with three or more themes where
one theme is repeated. ABACAD
Narrative: choreographic structure that follows a specific
story line to convey specific information through a dance
Variations: contrasts in the use of the dance elements,
repetitions.
Styles (characteristics)
Ballet: a classic form of dance growing out of the
French nobility. Its root is court dances.
It is known for its:
•standardized dance movements
•specialized leaps and lifts
•French terminology to describe each
standardized movement
•Pointe shoes for women
•slippers for men
•costumes---tights, tutus
Styles (characteristics)
Tap: is a percussive dance form in which dancers
produce sound by wearing shoes to which metal taps
have been added. Tap dance, an American dance form
which concentrates on footwork and rhythm, has roots
in African, Irish and English clogging traditions. Its
roots lie in recreational dance (Irish Step dance, jig and
African steps).
It is known for:
•An emphasis on rhythm
•Tap shoes
•Costumes—formal to street wear
•Improvisation
Styles (characteristics)
Jazz: American music marked by lively rhythms with unusual
accents and often including melodies made up by musicians as they
play. It’s roots are in social dances and early musical theatre dance.
It’s known for:
•Stylized movement
•Accents in hands, head, hips and feet
•English/French terminology to describe movements
•Jazz shoes or boots
•Costume related to theme of dance
•Improvisation
Styles (characteristics)
Modern: a form of dance developed by dancers
interested in breaking from ballet traditions and
expressing a more liberating form of movement. It
expresses complex emotions and abstract ideas.
It is known for:
•Freedom of movement
•Usually barefoot but can use shoes based on theme
•Costume related to dance theme
•Improvisation used in the development of
choreography

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