Unit 3: Best uses of Choreographic structures, and cultivating the artist voice

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Dancing in found space

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How do choreographers know when to use each of the choreographic structures? What makes one more appropriate than another?

In Unit 3, we look to put your new knowledge or clarity to work. With your understanding of the elements of dance, and choreographic structures, you will deepen your knowledge by practicing creating choreography using these structures. Please share your work in flipgrid, google classroom, and via journaling. The unit will conclude with a final reflection (google form). Please be sure to complete this important step so that the course may be improved upon for future learners.


Creating a sense of-

- Order - This may be achieved through accumulation which keeps resetting at the top of the phrase before continuing or adding on to the sequence. Another structure is repetition which is not listed as one of the structures we focused on in this mini course.

- Disorder- Moving through a sequence normally and then reversing or rewinding that sequence as in retrograde might show a sense of disorder, coming apart, undoing. Chance dance is one structure that was not covered in this mini course, but that leaves the choice of music or order of segments up to chance- the roll of a die, for example.

- Hierarchy- One structure that focuses our attention to one point and relegates (even temporarily) others to the background is ground bass. This does not have to be a negative thing, background can be very important to conveying a message, but it can also be used to establish a sense of dominance or importance.

Kwe Kwe FuturPointe UK Tour

- Cause and effect- Action and reaction is clearly demonstrated by call and response. Although it can be demonstrated in classic 'battles' or dance offs between opposing sides, it a staple in West African dance, square dances and many other forms. Call and response can be used to support the narrative structure which often tells stories.

- Storytelling- The narrative structure tells clear stories- fairytales and mythology, instructions and processes, events and discoveries, revelations and theories. All of those concepts may be expressed using this structure.


AB- creates contrast and patterns that "supplement and enhance each other" unifying the composition- generally limited to very short compositions (not much variation on the theme). TEACHING TIP- Establish an "A" sequence and have students create a "B" sequence that they feel completes the work- adding contrast and balance.

ABA- "...especially suitable for compositions in which the ideational material demands a direct, uncomplicated form of presentation."- Dance Composition and Production

Call & Response- useful for communicating cause and motivation, and relationships

Canon- effectively conveys continuity, generations, unity

Ground Bass- may be used to pass the focus of a dance from one person or group to another (the soloist) or to show varied perspectives simultaneously.

Virago- FuturPointe Dance

Rondo- useful for representing patterns of daily living, important concepts that warrant repetition, or even monotony. A= principal theme.

NOTE: For a Canon or Ripple structure, you need more than one person unless the work is video edited for more than one of you to appear. For this reason, we will not do an activity for the canon structure in this mini course.

RETROGRADE: Try it yourself!

Tip: Limit acrobatic movements and those involving intense athleticism while learning this tool.

Create 4 sets of 4 count movements= A, B, C, D for a total of 16 counts

Perform and record (videotape) the movement in this original structure.

Work backwards to set the sequence applying the retrograde choreographic device. This should look like pressing rewind on a video.

Record yourself performing the retrograded movement, then view the footage to assess for and correct any discrepancies. Did you switch sides? Travel in the wrong direction? These simple mistakes are common when learning this structure.

REVERSAL: Try it yourself!

Tip: This will NOT look like pressing rewind on a video tape. For the original 16 counts, try to end each 4 count phrase in a neutral position. In this was, you will not have rough transitions when you switch the order of phrases.

Create 4 phrases, each of 4 count movements= A, B, C, D for a total of 16 counts. You are welcome to use the same choreography from a previous activity if you do not find this confusing.

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Perform and record (videotape) the 16 counts of movement in this original structure.

Reverse the order of the phrases, but not the movement within each phrase- i.e.: DCBA

Perform the sequence using reversal (each of the four sets in reverse order) i.e.: DCBA=

~Begin with the 4 count "D" phrase (beginning to end),

~immediately followed by 4 count "C" sequence (beginning to end),

~followed by 4 count "B" sequence (beginning to end),

~finally finishing with 4 count "A" sequence (beginning to end).

EDUCATORS: You are welcome to combine studies on choreography structures if your students are picking up the material well. Here is a sample grading sheet for such an activity.

Thank you for taking this Choreographic Structures Mini Course! Please take a moment to provide me with your feedback here.

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