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Dance glossary

A glossary of dance terms from the NZ Curriculum.

abstract movement: movement to represent an action - not mime.

accent: emphasis

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 awareness: a dance element that comprises focus on body shapes, body base, body part, locomotor and non-locomotor movements.

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

choreographic device: a specific way of manipulating movement to develop dance choreography (for example, repetition, inversion, accumulation).

choreographic process: the method (for example, teacher direction, group collaboration, collage, chance) by which choreography is developed.

choreographic structure: the way in which movement is organised and shaped to create a dance (for example, ABA , theme and variations, narrative).

communication: conveying or transmitting meaning within a particular context.

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.

culture: understandings, patterns of behaviour, practices, values, and symbol systems that are acquired, preserved, and transmitted by a group of people and that can be embodied in art works.

dance elements: body awareness, space, time and energy, relationships

dance practices: a collective term that refers to the techniques, conventions, protocols, and principles associated with a particular dance form, genre, or style.

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

elements of dance: the key components of movement (for example, space, time, energy, relationships, body awareness).

embellishment: a choreographic device where detail is added to a move, such as a hand gesture or an arm movement.

energy: a dance element that focuses on the weight, texture and flow of movement, for example, float, swing, sudden, smooth, sharp, percussive, vibratory, explosive.

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.

idea: a visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic concept, or a combination of these, within an arts discipline.

improvisation: spontaneous movement in response to a stimulus.

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.

movement sequence: a series of movements, longer than a phrase but shorter than a section of a dance.

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 movement vocabulary: an individual's patterns of movement, which can be identified and extended through improvisation.

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

relationships: a dance element that focuses on how the body relates to itself, to others, and to the dance environment.

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.

space: a dance element made up of level, size, range, place, focus, direction, pathway.

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.

time: a dance element made up of rhythm, tempo, beat, accent.

unison: dancers moving at the same time doing the same movements.

vocabularies: steps, movements, sequences, and ways of moving, which may be personal (for example, in creative dance) or particular to a dance form (for example, folk dance).

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