Upon completion of the course students will be able to:
1. Apply principles of dance composition to choreography of dance
studies or short dances.
2. Creatively solve choreographic problems using the body as an
3. Choreograph solo, duo and group studies or short dances using a
variety of choreographic approaches.
4. Convey meaning or other intention through a dance work.
5. Recognize choreographic elements in the work of other choreographers.
6. Critique dance studies in aesthetic terms.
7. Compare aesthetic elements and design principles in dance to those of
other art forms.
I. Principles of dance composition
A. Elements of dance movement
1. Time (duration, tempo, meter, rhythmic devices)
2. Space (shape, focus, level, direction, facing)
3. Energy (dynamic contrast, qualities of movement)
4. Optional: Effort/Shape (basic principles from Laban
B. The dance phrase
C. How to create a high point in a dance phrase, study, or dance
D. Beginning, middle and end of a phrase, study, or dance
E. Choreographic devices such as retrograde, repetition,
amplification, and ornamentation
F. Properties of the stage space
G. Observation and analysis of the works of contemporary
II. Parallels between aesthetic elements and design principles in
dance and in other art forms.
III. Application of improvisation to choreographic process
IV. Choreographic approaches and methods
NOTE: The following are examples only. Approaches may vary from
semester to semester.
A. Exploration of a prop or found object
B. Choreography to spoken text
C. Imagery as inspiration
D. Physical contact
E. Gestures or pedestrian movement as basis for dance movement
V. Choosing accompaniment
B. Spoken word
1. As inspiration
2. To support thematic intention
3. Paralleling and contrasting music with choreography
4. Instrumental vs. with lyrics
5. Live vs. recorded
VI. Communication of meaning
A. Choreographic intention vs. viewer interpretation
C. Conveying ideas and emotions
D. Abstract vs. literal representation
VII. Creativity and finding sources of inspiration for movement
VIII. Composition forms
A. Musical forms such as ABA, rondo, theme and variation
IX. Critiquing choreography using the ORDER approach (Larry Lavender)
Note: Other approaches may be incorporated
1. Recording observed visible features
2. Subjective impressions
1. Analysis of visible features
E. Recommendations for revision
1. Individual and group movement exploration (improvisation)
2. Reading of class hand-outs or text approximately 1 chapter per week.
3. Participation in class discussions including verbal critiques of
fellow students' work applying choreographic and aesthetic principles.
4. Choreography and performance of solos, duos, and possibly group dance
5. Choreographic notebook that may include ideas for future pieces,
inspiration for choreography, sketches, thoughts on choreographic
process, and critiques of fellow students' work
6. Written critiques of choreographic works performed by professional
dance companies. Critiques may include comparison of dance to other art
Lynne Anne Blom, L, Tarin Chaplin. The Intimate Act of Choreography.
Grove Press Inc. 1995.
Doris Humphrey. The Art of Making Dances. Rinehart. 1991.
Pamela Anderson Sofras. Dance Composition Basics. Human Kinetics, 2006.
Instructor prepared materials