Dance Theory An Introduction to the Fundamentals
A Little To Think About Dance • Dance, or movement, is a natural activity that becomes an artistic expression when structured and formed by the elements of dance design using compositional forms.
1. How movement/ mime can be used to portray various characters who tell a story, without speaking. 2. Dance is a language that you must understand. Once learned students will be able to speak a “dance sentence.” Dance as a Form of Communication
1. Space • A) Dance must move, the dancer cannot stay in one spot (direction) • B) Big verses small, how the dancer can contort the body to make lines (shape) • C)Movement levels – low (on the ground), medium (standing), high (up on toes or jumping)
Space, Cont’d. • Direction – forward, backward, sideways, up, down, diagonal, in a circle • Size – large and small movements • Pathways – patterns we make as we move through the air and on the floor.
Even More About Space • Level – the vertical distance from the floor; low(on the ground), medium (standing up), high (up on tiptoes or jumping) • Shape – the design of the body as it exists in space
General VS. Kinesphere • General Space – The space shared by all; reaches beyond personal space. • Kinesphere – Personal space; The space reached while stationary.
More About Kinesphere • Personal space is important when dealing with WHAT type of movements an individual can do in their own personal space (your movement reached while stationary).
2. Time • The dancer cannot dance everything at once, the movement must be sequenced. • Time is the relationship of one movement or part of a movement to another.
Time, Cont’d. • Dancers can move at different speeds fast and slow (tempo) • Dancers count to keep in time with the music. It is important for the dancer to stay with the pulse of the music (beat).
More About Time - Terms • Pulse – The ongoing underlying beat. • Speed – How fast or slow the movement is. • Duration – The length of time the movement lasts; long, medium, or short.
Even More About Time??? • Rhythm – Patterns made by arranging long and short sounds or strong and light sounds. • Phrases – Longer sequences of movement. • Beat - Steady
3. Force • A. Heavy or light • B. Sharp or smooth • *** Different moves require different amounts of energy!!!
Force, Cont’d. • Tension/relaxation – Tension feels hard and tight; relaxation feels soft, loose and floppy. • Flow – bound or free; flow has to do with the ongoing movement; when energy is released freely, we describe the movement as free flow; when the energy is release in a controlled, restrained manner, we describe the movement as bound.
Even More About Force • Weight – Strength(force) or lightness.
Locomotor movements are movements that usually travel through space. Non-locomotor movements are movements that stay in one place. Locomotor VS. Non-locomotor
Locomotor Movements • Walk • Run • Hop • Jump • Leap • Skip • Gallop • Slide
Non – Locomotor Movements • Bend • Stretch • Push/Pull • Rise/Sink • Shake • Swing/Sway • Twist/Turn
Dance Vocabulary • In order for one to make a good, detailed analysis of a performance, one must understand a dance vocabulary – basic terminology that describes the make up of dance and performances. This is also known as a movement vocabulary.
Dance Terminology • Alignment – Body placement or posture; proper alignment lessons body strain and promotes dance skills. • Actions – What the body is doing; this includes locomotor and non-locomotor skills.
Terminology, Cont’d. • Dance phrase – A logical sequence of movements with an observable beginning, middle, and end. • Dynamics – The dance element which relates to how a movement is made. • For example, time and space are two elements related to a performance.
Even More Terminology • Qualities – Characteristics of a movement. • For example, are the movements small or large? Are they bound or free? Does the dancer perform at low, medium, or high levels?
More Terminology??? • In dealing with dance performances, one must understand the relationships of dance – the body’s position relative to something or someone.
Form • Form is the structure of dance compositions. • For example, how is the dance composed (locomotor vs. non-locomotor movements? General vs. Kinespheric space)?
Principles of Composition • Dance consists of sequences with a beginning, middle, and an end. • Dance uses different movement phrases (brief sequences of related movements) to show variations. The following will be addressed:
Principles, Cont’d. • A – is a one part movement phrase in a specific tempo. • AB(Binary Form) – is a two-part movement phrase with B having a different tempo. • ABA(Ternary Form) – is a 3 part movement phrase with A being repeated.
Principles, Cont’d. • Call & Response – A dance in which one person or group moves first, then another person or group moves in response to what the first group has done. • When doing call and response, it is important to pay attention to the leader.
Direction and Choreography • Direction is the coaching/instructing from an expert in the field. Most ballet and other modern dance corps’ direction comes from choreographers (veteran dancers), as well as dancers.
Choreographer • A choreographer is a person who makes up the moves, positions, arrangements for a dance performance.
Learning to Choreograph • To be a choreographer you need to know the various dance steps, why these were invented and what effects they can achieve on the stage.
Learning, Cont’d. • Choreographers must also know how to use the stage space and must understand the basic principles of lighting and design.
Even More Learning • Other important qualities are a good understanding of music, and plenty of imagination and original ideas. Choreographers also need to be able to work well with lots of different people and to be patient. It may take weeks to create a dance.
Origin of Choreography • The term comes from two Greek words, “khoreia” meaning choral dancing to music, and “graphia” meaning writing. • Choreography is one of the most important aspects of dance.
How Choreography Developed • Although people have been creating dances for thousands of years, choreography was only developed as a separate skill in the early 1900s.
Development, Cont’d. • As modern dance developed, traditions were overturned and the process involved in creating a dance was analyzed much more. • People realized that choreography required special skills and was recognized as an art form.
Steps To Choreography • Although choreographers have an individual way of working, there is an exact method to creating a performance:
Steps to Choreographing a Performance: Step 1 • 1. The choreographer decides on a subject for a dance. This may be inspired by anything, from a piece of music to a painting or book, or even a beautiful building. • Cats was inspired by one of T.S. Eliot’s poems.
Step 2 • 2. The choreographer then chooses dancers to perform the work by holding auditions. Sometimes dance is specially made for a particular dancer.
Step 3 • 3. The choreographer and dancers explore the subject for the dance by having discussions and sometimes an improvisation session where they try out ideas. • Sometimes, they have to go through training to portray a certain person or animal.
Step 4 • 4. The choreographer rehearses the dancers, all the time working out how the dance should develop and if it works as a whole (with the whole dance company).
Step 4, Cont’d. • As each sequence in the dance is decided, it is written down in dance notation, or motif symbols, by a professional notator, or choreologist. • Understudies, or 2nd strings, are decided in case someone cannot perform or an emergency arises.
Even More on Step 4 • The choreographer works with the lighting, set and costume designers, to produce the stage effects for the dance. • For example, the set of Cats was designed to resemble a junkyard, where cars and other items are enlarged to make the dancers (or cats) appear small and lifelike.
Finally…The Performance • Eventually all the different elements are put together on stage, and last-minute changes are made (dress rehearsals). • The dance is now ready to be performed to an audience.
Performance, Cont’d. • This is the big moment: if anything goes wrong in the dance, the choreographer will probably get the blame!!!!
Other Dance Company Jobs • Artistic Director • Lighting Tech • Musician • Wardrobe Manager & Assistant • Dancer • Stage Manager
Purposes For Dance • Recreational/Social • Ceremonial/Ritual • Artistic Performance • Dance Therapy