Dance - Main things to know:)

- Stimulus

- Motifs

- The 5 body actions

- Motif development

- Compositional devices

- Actions

- Space

- Dynamics

- Music/dance relationships


  • Draw mind map
  • Improvise
  • Create motifs
  • Develop motifs
  • Piece together
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  • The 5 body actions - simply, a motif that contains a combination of the five body actions will always be more varied and have greater scope for original development.
  • Originality - this can make your good motif a great motif. Find new and innovative ways of moving: can you dance without using your left leg?
  • Dynamics, space, time - music that is the same pace and beat is repetitive and boring. Do you want your dance to be? Use a variety of dynamics, space and timing.
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The 5 body actions

  • Rotation - this occurs when the body or a body part it turned, twisted or coiled. This action also covers movements like rolling and pirouettes.
  • Stillness - this is quite simply a pause within movement; a complete stop, a balance or even a suspension between movements.
  • Gesture - this is a non-weight-bearing movement of the limbs mostly associated with the arms but also can be applied to the legs, the head and the torso.
  • Flight - this refers to any movement that is not in contact with the floor. Flight can refer to huge jetes or even the smallest of hops.
  • Travel - the act of moving from one point in space to another. This could be a simple action of walking or running, or something more structured and complex.
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  • How - speed, effort, quality


  • Fast
  • Slow
  • Storng
  • Soft
  • Fluid
  • Sharp
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  • The "where"


  • Levels
  • Floor pathways
  • Air pathways
  • Formations
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Motif development

  • Addition - this is the act of adding in new movement into an already existing motif. Movement could be added at any point in the motif; the beginning, middle or the end. By doing this you can create longer and more complex motifs. This could mean a range of things, but most obviously this development could help to portray the idea of something or a situation becomng more complex.
  • Reduction - this is when movement is removed from the motif entirely, effectively shortening it. The easiest way of doing this is to remove movement from the middle of a complex motif and making it seamless can be challenging. this could be interpreted to mean things such as a sense of loss or a feeling of confusion. By extracting movement the motif is shortened and takes less time to perform, so it could help portray compaction.
  • Direction - this is done by simply changing the direction the movement is facing. When using this it is easy to use poor movement alignment; always ensure that by changing the direction that the movement is not 'blocked off' from the audience.

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Motif development (cont)

  • Direction(cont) - in a narrative context this could be seen as shutting out or accepting somebody (depending on the facing). Abstractly it can give a new perspective.
  • Amplification - to amplify something is to make something larger. This could be an enlargement of personal or general space. Amplification is generally accompanied by a natural increase in power of energy. This can give the idea of the consumption or overwhelming of something or someone; it can also denote power.
  • Miniturisation - this is the opposite of amplification. With this movement is reduced in size. This can refer to person or general space. Miniturisation generally creates movement that is unusual and sometimes ugly. It can portray the idea of humility, fright or perhaps even pain.
  • Speed - fairly self-explanatory development of adjusting how much time movements take to perform; to be sped up or slowed down. This can be used for numerous reasons. The most important thing that needs to be remembered is that the fastest moving things on stage often attracts the most attention.
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Compositional devices

  • Unison - a group of dancers performing the same movement at the exact same time as one another. Unison could be used to give an element of unity or harmony. With strong dynamic movement it can also help give a sense of power and solidarity.
  • Canon: simple - dancers dance the same phrase but one after another in consecutive sequence. Think of a Mexican wave! Contrary to popular belief canon does not automatically mean disparity within a group. In fact it can be used as a way of reiterating a significant movement.
  • Canon: random - dancers dance the same phrase but one after another in a random order and at random times; it's unpredictable. Think of Whack Attack! Contrary to popular belief canon does not automatically mean disparity within a group. In fact it can be used as a way of reiterating a significant movement.
  • Canon: cumulative - one dancer will start a phrase and other dancers will join in at various stages, finishing at the same time as the original dancer. 
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Compositional devices (cont)

  • Canon: cumulative (cont) - This form of canon is very clear to see; a strong visual device. With dancers being 'collected' into movement it can give the impression of growing power. Cumulative canon is good for building to a climax.
  • Numeric variations - Numeric variations refer to the variety of combinations of 'groupings' that can be achieved through splitting up a number of dancers. Within these 'groupings' dancers could be doing anything: stillness, unison, cumulative, canon, retrograde, amplification, a combination of things. By constantly creating, changing and shifting 'groupings' a choreographer can create a very strong piece of work that slickly moves from one aesthetically pleasing moment to the next. A choreography where all 5 dancers dance as a whole all of the time is a one way ticket to snoreville!
  • Juxtaposition - this is the art of placing 2 or more extreme contrasts very close together. These contrasts could be of speed, open and closed positions, levels, size, angular and soft lines. This is quite possibly the most powerful tool for a choreographer; it can highlight the differences between characters or status on a narrative level. On an abstract level this can be breathtaking. If it works for Henri Oguike and Matthew Bourne.
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The 'what'

A way of moving


  • Jump
  • Turn
  • Gesture
  • Travel
  • Transfer of weight (roll/fall)
  • Stillness
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Music/Dance relationships

  • Direct correlation - music and dance work together, match e.g: shoulder pop on the beat.
  • Music visualisation - dance and music appearing as one statement e.g: music quieter, softer dynamics.
  • Emphasising character/narrative - music adding to the narrative or character.
  • Mutual co-existence - dance holds its own identity next to the music, they run alongside each other.
  • Disassociation - music and dance develop independently. e.g: using classical music for street jazz, creating your own beat.
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