Melinda Phillips' Portfolio Page



Please visit my mini course page on Dance Choreographic Structures here! I welcome your feedback, please send to and Thank you for visiting, I hope that you enjoy the experience.

MP in UK tour master class

About Me: My Experience, Focus and Purpose

For the last twenty + years I have been teaching dance in my community. For the last six years I have done so in the academic setting at my alma mater. I have toured and taught internationally, and am excited to continue my career by sharing my love of dance with new generations. The CDIT (Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology) program at SUNY Albany is aiding my professional development with new and improved media literacy, pedagogy and design skills. In KNILT, I have decided to focus on the creation aspect of dance- choreography.

Scope of Learning Outcomes and Content

There are many components involved in teaching dance. With my mini course, the focus is on choreographic structures- identifying and recalling them, utilizing them in works of art, and understanding when they might be most effective.

Needs Assessment

I decided on the focus mentioned above based on my communication with a group of talented educators and performers. I reached out to them and asked for them to decide which area of dance and instruction was most important to them and to complete the associated Google form, providing me with information regarding their experiences as students of choreography and/ or educators . This needs assessment helped me to learn where there are gaps of knowledge and/or skills, that my mini-course may address for choreographers at all levels, including those in teaching positions. As the aforementioned group of educators concluded, this course is created in recognition that "understanding and appreciation of dance structure is indisputably necessary to the success of creative composition." - Elizabeth R. Hayes in Dance Composition and Production

Problem (what is),

Dance educators are tasked with teaching choreography, but many do not personally have a firm grasp of all the elements of choreography, especially choreography structures. This makes imparting knowledge and guiding learning especially difficult.

Goal (what should be),

Dance educators and students of choreography should have a firm grasp of the choreographic structures in order create works of art that more fully develop and convey the meaning the artist intends to express.

Solution (needs),

Dance educators and students of choreography need to engage in studies that enhance and support their understanding of choreographic structures. This mini course will address that need.

Analysis of the Learner and Context

From observing the data from the Google Forms, I found that most educators and artists surveyed wanted to focus on learning about the choreographic process themselves. Only one participant completed the survey about instructing students. As such, I focused on creating a course that could be used by students at all levels, and that instructors might be able to assign to their own students after completing the course themselves. I hope that this may be a resource that aids educators in a greater understanding of the concepts of dance composition. I was surprised that there were so few resources online that contribute to this area of study. This mini course would have been great for me to complete at the start of my journey to become an educator many years ago.

When asked which choreographic structures were understood the least the responses were: Narrative, Retrograde, Accumulation, Collage, Suite, Motif and development, Ground Bass, AB, ABA, Rondo. With such a wide range of responses, it was deemed appropriate to give a general overview of choreographic structures.

Performance-Based Objectives

Learning outcomes (goals) vary slightly for dance educators and students and include:


Participants will identify the elements of dance and choreography.

Participants will create works of choreography using several different choreographic tools, structures and/or devices.

Participants will compare and contrast the difference between the selected choreographic devices.

Participants will identify and match the best use of each of the selected choreographic devices with the intention behind their choreographic concept.


Participants will create, perform and assess studies that demonstrate their mastery of the elements of dance.

Participants will recall the properties selected choreographic structures and devices and their uses.

Participants will recognize the function of various choreographic tools, structures and/ or devices, and identify examples of several to share with their students and peer participants.

Participants will identify best practices for teaching the selected choreographic tools, structures and/ or devices to their students, focusing on cultivating their artist voice and process.

Applicable standards include (but not limited to):

NYSED Learning Standards for the Arts- The standards stress the importance of learning about choreography structures. Included in these standards are exploring, identifying, and experimenting with choreographic structures to expand choreographic possibilities, and support and clarify artistic intent.

Anchor Standard 7 focuses on the ability to "Perceive and analyze artistic work." Choreographers understanding how dance is structured is akin to authors understanding how sentences are structured.

Anchor Standard 2 focuses on the ability to "Organize and develop artistic ideas and work." It states that "the elements of dance, dance structures, and choreographic structures serve as both a foundation and a departure point for choreographers." The essential question asks what choices choreographers make to create a dance.

Task Analysis

Pre-requisite skills include the ability to:

- execute basic dance movements

Enabling Objectives include the ability to:

- retain choreographic phrases

- revise current choreography/ sequences

- Dance educators (only)= teach students in an effective manner

Supportive Objectives include the willingness to:

- try new methods and practices to create and shape choreography

- to share knowledge with others in this course (for educators- share with their colleagues and students)

Curriculum Map

Curriculum Map/ Overview of Units 1-3

Unit 1: What is Dance? What is Choreography? covers the pre-requisite background knowledge needed for choreographers to create effective dance pieces. The unit explores what dance is, what choreography consists of, and brings participants to the roots of the craft- exploring the elements of dance.

Unit 2: Structures, devices, tools and differentiating between them dives into one element of choreography- structures, tools, and devices. Definitions and exemplars are provided to participants as well as the opportunity to assess their learning and recall.

Unit 3: Best uses of Choreographic structures, and cultivating the artist voice breaks down the usage of choreographic structures- best practices that mesh with the artistic concept or voice that is being cultivated in a given work. Choreography studies are an important part of this unit- learning by doing is explored.

Guiding questions promote higher order thinking and analysis throughout the course and participants are invited to be a part of an authentic audience by sharing their reflections, assessments, and resources within the course via journaling, google classroom posts, forms, and flip posts.

References and Resources

Dance Composition & Production second edition by Elizabeth R. Hayes

Dance About Anything by Marty Sprague, Helen Scheff, Susan McGreevy-Nichols

Dance Pedagogy for a Diverse World- Part II: Culturally Relevant Teaching, Critical Dance Pedagogy by Nyama McCarthy-Brown

Dancers Talking Dance by Larry Lavendar

The Art of Making Dances by Doris Humphrey

Bodystories: A Guide to Experiential Anatomy by Andrea Olsen

TEACHING resources

NYS Learning Standards- Dance