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C H A P T E R 3 Elements of Dance Chapter ? ?
Chapter 3 Elements of Dance Enduring understanding: The elements of dance are used in all dance genres and styles. Essential question: What are the elements of dance?
Learning Objectives • Recall the elements of dance. • Understand movement principles. • Apply music basics for dance. • Recognize qualities, effort actions, styles, dynamics, and personal interpretation.
“Basic dance—and I should qualify the word basic—is primarily concerned with motion. So immediately you will say but the basketball player is concerned with motion. That is so—but he is not concerned with it primarily. His action is a means towards an end beyond motion. In basic dance the motion is its own end—that is, it is concerned with nothing beyond itself. ” -- Alwin Nikolais, 20 th-century American modern dance choreographer
Introduction Dance is a language that dancers use to move, think, and respond. Dancers learn specific movement languages that are part of dance genres, forms, and styles so they are able to express themselves clearly, concisely, and with fluency. Movement and steps could be considered the words, and rhythm could be considered grammar. You combine these elements of dance to create movement sentences. When joined together these sentences become paragraphs and sections of a dance work.
Chapter 3 Vocabulary Terms accent effort observation beat effort actions rhythm body actions levels rhythm awareness body shapes locomotor movements rhythmic competency directions measures space dynamics movement principles tempo elements of dance movement qualities time energy nonlocomotor (axial) movements transitions
Elements of Dance Dancing is the body moving in space and through time with energy. • The body or body parts is what moves. • Space is where the dancer moves. • Time is when the dancer moves in relationship to the music. • Energy is how the dancer performs the movement. • Relationships are with whom or what.
Body actions are of the whole body, body parts, or body shapes. • Body shapes involve creating shapes that are curved, straight, twisted, angular, wide, or narrow. • Body shape designs are symmetrical (both sides of the body replicate the same shape) or asymmetrical (the shape of one vertical half of the body is different from the other).
Space is the area through which the dancer moves. • Personal and general space • Positive and negative space • Directions: forward, backward, sideways, on a diagonal, in an arc, a circle, or up and down • Levels: low, middle, or high • Pathways: routes created by the movement in straight, curved, diagonal, indirect, or direct paths. Pathways can combine direction and levels on the floor and in the air. • Dimension: how small to how large the movement is.
Two Basic Types of Movement Nonlocomotor (axial) movements, in which body parts move around a stationary base • Nonlocomotor movements include bending, stretching, and twisting. Locomotor movements, which enable the body to travel across the floor • Locomotor movements divide into even and uneven rhythms. – Even movements are walk, run, hop, jump, and leap. – Uneven movements are slide, gallop, and skip.
Time The concept of time relates to the length of the dance (determined by the dancer, choreographer, or the music). Other aspects of time include basic elements of music: • Beat: the underlying pulse of the music • Rhythm: the pattern of beats or sounds • Tempo: the speed of the movement or the music; can be slow (adagio) to fast (allegro) to very fast (presto) • Measures: groups of beats that are separated into intervals and have a primary accent • Accent: relates to emphasis on a beat or group of beats
Rhythmic Awareness and Competency • Practicing basic timing and beat competency through walking and then dancing leads toward attaining rhythmic awareness when you hear and feel the rhythm. • Rhythmic competency is when you have the ability to perceive and do the rhythm automatically.
Energy The amount, intensity, and type of force you use as you move through the space.
Movement Qualities Movement qualities release energy to give each quality distinct features. • Pendular movements have a light swinging quality. • Suspension describes the moment off balance before catching your fall. • Sustained is the continuous flow of energy at the same rate. • Collapse is a quick discharge of all energy in a body part or the entire body. • Vibratory discharges energy in quick, repeated releases, most often using small body parts. • Percussive delivers sharp, forceful movement, quickly halted, and punctuated by a sound. • Abrupt is sharp, forceful energy without sound.
Effort combines time, weight, space, and flow in various proportions to create various blends of energy components. • Time is measured from very fast to very slow. • Weight varies from light to heavy. • Space stretches from small to large. • Flow of movement spans from bound to free. • Movements are either direct or indirect movements or paths.
Effort Actions Effort actions describe types of exertion; they designate a series of sudden or slow movements that are light or strong and use a direct or indirect path. • Dab (sudden, light, and direct) • Flick (sudden, light, and indirect) • Punch (sudden, strong, and direct) • Slash (sudden, strong, and indirect) • Glide (slow, light, and direct) • Float (slow, light, and indirect) • Press (slow, strong, and direct) • Wring (slow, strong, and indirect)
Transitions relate to use of • space (such as change of levels or direction), • time (the speed you execute a movement), and • energy or efforts (where you control weight, flow, and other changes).
Relationships • Types of meetings: meet and pass, meet and part, meet and stay, meet and follow, or meet and join • Lead and follow actions • Directions: back to back, side to side, front to front, and other variations
Movement Principles Movement principles underlie dance genres, which are made up of the elements of dance. The anchor for movement principles is alignment, while balance functions as a static and a dynamic principle that connects to all of the movement principles. See figures 3. 5 through 3. 9 for photos and definitions.
Dynamics is a combination of movement, energy, effort, and time. Dynamics change movements and their intensities throughout a statement, section, or dance, providing endless possibilities for expression.
Dance Technique Dance technique is the skill with which the dancer executes movements, steps, positions, and poses in a dance genre. When you use technique, you apply kinesthetic and movement principles along with other principles.
Observation is the process of perceiving through the senses. It includes viewing movement while listening to verbal instructions and the music for the information needed to execute the movement. Learning observation skills helps you to replicate movement or grasp the information to create new movement.
Physical and Mental Rehearsal Techniques Physical and mental rehearsal techniques are the basis for learning longer sequences of movement and dances. Developing a memory bank of movement is a continuous activity in learning a dance language and becoming fluent in it.
Roles of Performer and Audience Member • Performers must know the movements, their space pattern, timing, qualities or efforts in each movement, and their relationships to other dancers —essentially, the elements of dance. • As an audience member in class, beyond sitting and enjoying the dances, you have to be open and attentive to the movement sequences. Sitting quietly you can direct your focus on the dance, and you can memorize and capture the elements and how they were used to express the message.
Talking About a Dance Three steps to open a dialogue to talk about a dance work: 1. First, pay a sincere compliment to the choreographer about the movement sequence or dance. 2. Ask one or two questions of the choreographer whose work you viewed. 3. Include a suggestion for the choreographer’s reflection and consideration.
Summary Absorbing these elements of dance allows you to move and gain fluency in dance so that you can express your emotions and ideas through movement as a language.