A glossary of dance terms from the NZ Curriculum.
abstract movement: movement to represent an action - not mime.
accumulation: a choreographic device or structure where new movements are added to existing movements in a successive manner, for example, A, AB, ABC, ABCD.
āhua: form, as applied to Māori performing arts.
air pathway: a pattern made in the air by the use of body parts (for example, arm, leg, head).
American postmodern dance: a form of modern dance that emerged in the 1960s and in which choreographers experimented with concepts and forms that challenged existing dance traditions.
art work: a product of art-making activity (for example, a haka, ballet, hip- hop performance).
asymmetry: a shape made by a dancer or dancers that has no line of reflection (mirror line).
augmentation: a choreographic device where movements are made larger in space or time.
beat: underlying pulse
bharata natyam: a form of Indian classical dance.
body base: the part of the body supporting a dancer in a balanced position (such as two feet, or one hand and one foot).
body parts: arms, legs, head, fingers, ankles, elbows, knees, shoulders, toes, wrists
body percussion: sounds made using parts of the body (e.g., foot stamping, thigh slapping)
body shape: curved, straight, open, closed, symmetrical, asymmetrical.
butoh: an expressionistic, avant-garde dance form that originated in Japan after the Second World War.
call and response: a structural device most often associated with African dance and musical forms; one soloist or group performs, and the second soloist or group performs in response to the first.
canon: a choreographic device or structure in which movements introduced by one dancer are repeated exactly by subsequent dancers in turn.
capoeira: a Brazilian dance form based on a type of martial arts.
chance: a choreographic process in which movements are chosen at random or randomly structured to create a movement sequence or a dance.
choreograph: to create dance by selecting, inventing, and arranging movement motifs and sequences
contact improvisation: a genre of modern dance based on spontaneous movement and the exchange of weight between dancers.
counter balance: a balance for more than one person, where each person relies on the others to maintain their shape.
dance elements: body awareness, space, time and energy, relationships
dance work: a product of dance making activity (i.e., haka, ballet, hip hop performance)
direction: forward, backward, right, left, up, down
duration: long, short
embellishment: a choreographic device where detail is added to a move, such as a hand gesture or an arm movement.
ensemble: a group working on or performing dance together
floor pathway: a direction taken across the floor (zigzag, curved, straight, diagonal).
focus: where a dancer is looking; concentration on the task.
form: the choreographic structure or structures that shape a dance work; or a broad term that refers to a specific type of dance (for example, theatre dance, folk dance); or a particular practice, style, or genre of dance.
general space: space in the overall dance area that is shared by all dancers.
genre: a specific category of dance that has a tradition or history and is identifiable by specific characteristics, social functions, and cultural contexts (for example, romantic ballet, hip-hop, kapahaka).
graphic notation: notation in which movement is represented by shapes and lines.
hononga: linkage, as applied to Māori dance.
interpretation: analysis or appreciation of meaning in an art work by a viewer; or the particular meaning communicated by the performer of an existing art work.
kapahaka: a Māori dance or action song group.
kinaesthetic signs and symbols: movement, gestures, and body language.
leap: a jump from one foot to the other foot.
level: the height in space at which a dancer is moving (for example, high, medium, low).
locomotor movement: movement in which the body travels across space (for example, running, creeping, rolling).
ma'ulu'ulu: a Tongan or Samoan group dance.
meaning: what an artist expresses in an art work; or what a viewer understands and interprets from an art work.
melodrama: overly dramatic, larger than life.
mokowā: space, as applied to Māori performing arts.
motif: a brief movement or gesture that can be developed in a variety of ways
movement motif: a movement or gesture that can be elaborated upon or developed in a variety of ways in the process of dance choreography.
movement patterns: recognisable, repeated movements or movement sequences
movement phrase: a series of movements linked together to make a distinctive pattern.
narrative structure: a choreographic structure that tells a story.
nekehanga: movement, as applied to Māori performing arts.
non-locomotor movement: movement in which the body remains anchored to one spot by a body part (for example, bending, twisting, stretching).
pathways: patterns created in the air or on the floor by the body or body parts as a dancer moves in and through space.
personal space: the "space bubble" around the body, extending as far as the body and body parts can reach, without travelling.
range: near, far, big, small
repetition: a choreographic device in which movements or motifs are repeated.
retrograde: a choreographic device whereby movements or a motif are performed backwards (like a rewound video).
reversal: the performance of the movements of a motif or sequence in reverse order (but not in a backwards direction).
rhythm: pattern, breath, steady, irregular
rhythmic: pertaining to movement patterns in time; these patterns often reflect the accompanying music's rhythms (i.e., distinctive combinations of note durations, accents, and silences)
rondo form: a choreographic structure (ABACAD, etc.) in which contrasting sections alternate with a recurring section.
sasa: a Samoan dance in which rows of (often seated) dancers perform rapid, synchronised movements in time to the beating of slit drums, tins, or rolled mats.
sequence: a series of movements, longer than a phrase but shorter than a section of a dance
social text: an art work that refers to the society or culture in which it is made and that reflects the dynamics within that society or culture.
style: the recognised manner or distinguishing way in which a dance is made and communicated and according to which it is interpreted; style is often associated with a particular performer, performance group, choreographer, or period.
symmetry: a shape made by a dancer or dancers that has a line of reflection (a mirror line).
tableau: a still shape created by a group of dancers.
taiaha: an ornately carved Māori spear, usually made of wood; or the art of using this weapon.
tauhanga: body stance, as applied to Māori performing arts.
te reo kori: a programme that develops basic movement skills using such equipment as poi, rakau, and whai.
technologies: equipment used to help create, present, explain, document, view, interpret, analyse, or learn about dance works, including dance props (for example, a taiaha, scarf, chair), electronic media (for example, video, computers), and production technologies (for example, lighting, costume, sound).
tempo: fast, slow, increasing, decreasing
theme: the subject, topic, or underlying idea (e.g., water, anger, drug use, a narrative, a particular image) on which a dance or section of a dance is based
text: any expressive work (artistic or otherwise) that can be "read", whether it uses words, images, or sounds.
unison: dancers moving at the same time doing the same movements.