Unit 1: What is Choreography?

Melinda Phillips performing at local Fringe Festival

Return to Main Choreography Structures Mini Course Page

THANK YOU for deciding to take this course! Let's begin!

What is dance? What does the term choreography mean? What do choreographers do, and why? How is choreography created? What does the process entail, and is it the same for everyone? Read on to answer these questions, then go to Unit 2 to more deeply explore choreographic structures.

If you are taking this course you are likely a dancer, choreographer, dance educator or all of the above. The slides in the reading activity below cover the elements of dance, and are intended as a helpful review for you. They may bridge the gap for learners who do not currently have a thorough understanding of what dance is. Throughout this course journaling will allow you to chart your growth and ponder concepts more fully.


Please keep a journal throughout this course. It will serve as an aid to chart progress and allow for deeper analysis of the work of others, and informed, intentional decisions when creating and revising your own work. This journal may be hand written- with words and drawings, or online via forms, or recordings (audio or visual) or written. Read below for more information.


This mini course is fully online and will not be monitored with any consistency. However, if you join the Google Classroom associated with this mini course, there will be occasional updates posted with information shared by participants- resources and opinions, studies and news. Everyone may benefit from our collective wisdom in this manner!

Whatever you decide, here is one of the resources posted in Google Classroom that everyone may benefit from- a google doc that provides guiding and reflective questions that should be used for your journal entries on this journey.

Anyone can view and appreciate dance! Here are some guiding questions for those looking to analyze and understand what they are seeing at a higher or more technical level.


If you enjoyed the piece, why? If you disliked the piece, why?

What themes are present in the choreography? What motifs?

Is there a discernible structure evident in the dance? How does it contribute to the message?

What pathways are used? In what ways do they contribute to the overall message or feeling of the piece?

What meaning do you take from the piece? If there was an artist statement, do you feel that the intended message was adequately conveyed? Why or why not? What made it so?

Does the flow of 'scenes' or segments of the dance make sense? Why or why not?

What gestures or details of the movement stood out to you and why? Describe them briefly.

Constructive Criticism is a wonderful asset for aspiring artists, and you can contribute to your peer's progress by providing them with this. Please review these guidelines before sharing your thoughts about anyone else's work. Thank you!


Before one can understand how choreography is structured, one must understand the elements of dance: body, space, time, energy and action. Feel free to familiarize yourself with the elements of dance in this google slides presentation. Within the slides you will find resources and links to exercises, a padlet, and videos to support your learning.

Reading Reflection- please include responses in your journal, and consider sharing in Google Classroom.

Creating dance is on a different level from viewing!


If there are multiple dancers-

What is the relationship between the dancers?

How would you describe their interactions? How do you want them to be perceived by others? Will this shift throughout the piece?

What methods or structures will you use in your design to make this evident? (e.g.: unison movement to show harmony)

If the dance is a solo-

How will the sequencing be designed to convey the message?

Return to Main page

Move on to Unit Two!