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How to talk ballet
Ty King-Wall. Photo Jim McFarlane

Ty King-Wall. Photo Jim McFarlane

Space

All dancers move through space. Choreographers create dances to make shapes in space with the dancer’s bodies.

How to talk about space:

  • Do the dancers stay on one level or do they jump up and down?
  • Do the dancers use the entire stage or just part of it?
  • Do the dancers always use the space in the same way for each dance, or do they vary it?

Shapes

All dancers make shapes when they move through space. For example if the dancer stretches his arms and legs he makes a stretched shape. If the dancer slightly bends his arms and legs and torso, he makes curved shapes. And if he bends the body parts as much as possible, he makes angular shapes.

How to talk about shapes:

  • Do the dancers make straight or curved shapes?
  • Do the dancers make jagged or smooth shapes?
  • Do the dancers make rising or falling shapes?
  • Do the dancers make moving or still shapes?

Music

Dancers usually move to music as they make shapes in space. Their movements will have some relationship to the music.

How to talk about music:

  • Do the dancers match the mood of the music or do they move in opposition to it?
  • Do the dancers match the rhythm of the music or do they move in opposition to ?
  • Do the dancers match the tempo of the music or do they move in opposition to it?

Mood or story

Every dance projects a mood or tells a story. How to talk about the content of the dance:

  • Do the dancers use different movements to portray different characters?
  • How would you describe each character you see, for example are they good or evil? Brave or cowardly? Noble or humble?
  • How would you describe the dance? Is it cheerful or sad? Elegant or rough? Serious or humorous?

Design

Costumes, scenery and lighting are carefully designed to enhance each dance. How to talk about design:

  • Do the costumes suit each character?
  • Do the costumes look easy or difficult to dance in?
  • Does the scenery and lighting help to establish the right mood for the dance?
 

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