How do they make just dance games

The Science of Just Dance

Every Sunday, we pull something out of the Eurogamer archive that you may not have read at the time or may have forgotten about. Today's piece was published a couple of months prior to the release of Just Dance 2, on 6th August 2010, as Ubisoft's unlikely Wii title from the previous Christmas continued to rock the game sales charts, and offers an insight into how the French publisher reached such giddy heights.

A meeting room in the belly of a Parisian office block: Ubisoft producer Florian Granger stands to his feet to address a group of serious-looking, middle-aged men. These are some of the company's most experienced game designers, artists and coders, veterans of Ghost Recon and Red Steel campaigns, architects of solemn videogames about war and tactics, strategy and death.

Granger's job? To reveal the next assignment the assembled group will be working on. The project? A Wii game. A Wii party game. A Wii party game based almost entirely upon a mini-game that first featured in another Wii party game, months earlier. A Wii party game that, within 18 months of this meeting, will have gone on to sell three and a half million copies and knocked the record-breaking Modern Warfare 2 from its top spot in the sales charts. A Wii party game whose instruction manual also happens to also be its name: Just Dance.

"You'd think the team would have been cynical about the project," explains Granger. "There was a flood of casual games coming out for the Wii at the time, all offering the same-old experiences with no innovation or real attention paid to the player experience. But there was immediately a sense of excitement within the group. I think that was because the codebase for the game was already proven, and the games we were looking to learn from and build upon were respected titles like Dance Dance Revolution. Our reference points were authentic."



Just Dance began life as a music mini-game in the Raving Rabbids series on Wii, in which the player used the Wii Remote and nunchuk to 'dance' in time with a piece of music. Gregoire Spillmann, Just Dance's creative director, enjoyed the mini-game, but wanted to explore what would happen if you removed nunchuk and strict Rhythm Action gameplay and allowed the player to dance more freely.

"The term 'dancing game' is usually a misnomer," he says. "More often than not you're not being asked to dance so much as push buttons - either on a dance mat, plastic peripheral or controller - in time with the music. Our concept was to inspire people to overcome their inhibitions and encourage them to actually dance. If you look at a game like Dance Dance Revolution, advanced players will often adapt dance moves to fit gameplay. We wanted to come at the game from the opposite approach, and fit the gameplay to iconic moves, ones that can then be taken by the player, and used beyond the game.

The way in which the Just Dance team achieved this effect was in direct contrast to the prevailing trend in music games, which increasingly employ complicated, expensive and lifelike peripherals to act as a bridge between player and game. "For what we wanted to achieve, peripherals were a distraction," explains Spillmann. "In order to encourage players to be free we had to reduce the amount of hardware the game required them to use to a bare minimum.

"We forced ourselves to achieve a meaningful level of rhythm and movement detection using the Wii Remote alone. We wanted complete freedom of arms and legs, so the idea of using nunchuks, elastic bands, leg straps or balance boards was thrown out at an early stage. We play-tested extremely hard right from the start, and this was the message coming back to us. The player is the best indicator; they know what they like and what they don't like so if you listen carefully, they'll guide you to make the right design choices."

In the case of Just Dance, the right design choice seemed to be the simplest design choice. I ask Granger how a team with so much experience was able to reconcile their ambition with the feedback they were receiving, to introduce fewer features and complexity.

Just Dance's aesthetic is garish - but it's also totally unique.

"From the start the entire team believed in the simplicity of the game," he explains, "so there was no contradiction between Ubisoft's desire to make it a game for everyone and our designers' own personal ambitions. In truth, making 'simple' games should be the highest ambition of any game designer, if by 'simple' we mean stripping a game back to the pure essentials where any person from any walk of life can experience something fun and engaging.

"That brief hardly represents a compromise. Also, making a game simple and accessible doesn't mean forgoing making it rich and deep. Those factors can all coexist happily, and that's something we were aiming for in Just Dance, at every stage of development."

If Ubisoft's ambition was to create a universally accessible experience, its success is near unrivalled, certainly in raw terms of last year's videogame sales. I ask Granger whether he puts the success of the game down to its soundtrack, supermarket-happy price point, or something else.

"I think there are loads of reasons why the game has been so well received. It might sound like a cliché, but it really does offer a unique dancing experience in it promotes communal, authentic dancing, rather than merely stepping in time. The tone of the game is fun too. We don't take the presentation too seriously, and I think players respond to that well, especially when we're asking them to do something as extroverted as dancing.

"Everyone remembers going to a nightclub or school disco where it takes a couple of hours before anyone has the bottle to get up and dance. Most guys do the fix-placed-beer-bottle dance or neck-shake to the beat. Everything in Just Dance is designed to sidestep those natural inhibitions. That's achieved partly by having the focal point of the screen for people to focus on, so they don't feel like they're being watched, but also in giving players a constant stream of new moves to learn, we're building up a vocabulary for people, and by having a dancer on screen to follow, giving them permission to try out that language in a safe context.

"After a few goes, when you've learned the basics, you get a little more adventurous and start to move around the room and checking at your fellow dancers. But by then, you're at ease and just enjoying the fun of dancing. Dancing with someone has this weird effect: it's like you know him or her in an intimate way or share a secret together somehow. People respond to that feeling too, as it's a unique thing in videogames."

In the light of this impassioned defense, I ask Granger how much is really going on in the Just Dance's code. Does the game really track player movements? Or is the scoring all smoke and mirrors, designed to give the player the illusion that the game is monitoring more that it really is able to?

Just Dance gameplay footage.

"We have built in a certain amount of leniency into the rhythm and precision detection, but to say that it's smoke and mirrors simply isn't true. We have constructed symmetrical movements using natural body dynamics to identify how well someone is playing even with just one controller. We look at the Wii remote as an extension of the players' hands and body.

"At first we used the nunchuk as well, but found that the wire would hit you in the face and that you lost that sense of freedom you want when dancing. The system we use takes into account the way you move, dance and handle the Wii Remote to offer more precision in the detection frames. This is seamless for the player, but it takes a lot of work to enable the proper detection through a single input device."

The game features a DDR-esque scoring system, measuring the player's performance on a wide variety of factors. I ask Granger whether a better player will always beat a poorer player, or whether the machine can be duped by flailing arms and raw energy. "No way. If you pick up the moves and hit the beat, your performance will be scored accordingly. A better dancer will always beat a poorer player. If you want to be in time and accurate, you have a much higher chance if you follow both arm movements and keep the rhythm with both your lower and upper body. So essentially, you're better off doing what the dancer is doing... Otherwise you will find the transitions difficult to match."

Neither man was willing to discuss the budget for Just Dance, nor how that might have ballooned for its forthcoming sequel, nor the royalty arrangements that the team members may or may not have enjoyed. But it's clear that, having tapped into something so popular, Ubisoft is keen to invest and build a franchise, especially in the face of a slew of me-too copycat titles from rival publishers.

As such, the team size for Just Dance 2 has been increased from 34 to 58, and a slew of new features have made it into the game, with downloadable content compatibility, new game modes and more accurate detection expanding the game in ways beyond its track list.

But despite the promise of these new features, Just Dance continues to have a hard time convincing hobbyist gamers of its worth, typically being dismissed as a lightweight, throwaway party game, a subject unworthy of serious discourse. "That always makes me laugh," says Granger. "The entire videogame industry was founded on games made by lovable nerds that were, initially at least, enjoyed by everyone. I remember my friend's dad spending hours with us on 'Pong', refusing to give up the controller even when he lost.

"Of course, I appreciate where critics are coming from but it can be easy just to dismiss this type of Wii game out of hand. In truth, no player, no matter how inexperienced they are, is duped by poor design. Good game design is good game design whether you've been playing games all your life, or just for the last 20 minutes.

"'Casual' gamers, if we have to call them that, are much more educated and demanding of what they are want to play than 'hardcore' gamers give them credit for. And, it might sound obvious, but it's worth repeating: graphical fidelity, and the power of hardware itself is not what makes a game fun or not. The number of polygons is not what makes you laugh or cry: it's the substance and creativity behind a game that holds its worth. "


May 28, 2021



“Let’s play a game of Just Dance?” Here’s a phrase you’ve heard at least once in your life! Sweating on the iconic “Rasputin,” marveling at the scene in “Rare,” having fun on “Tetris,” development teams always double down on their creativity to expand the game. But who creates this choreography you’re swaying your hips to? Who is behind the coaches we see on the screen?

On International Dance Day, Estelle, Associate Choreograph Director, and Julien, Dancer, answered questions from our fans on Instagram. Their favorite map, their journey, their worst costume, they tell you everything! Embark on a behind-the-scenes tour into the studio’s most colorful license!

Estelle and Julien

Let’s start from the beginning: what was the first map you worked on?

E: Georgia, and it was coooool!

J: Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore on Just Dance 2014


What were the most straightforward and the most challenging choreography to shoot?

J: I would say “Vodovorot” for the most complex one (Editor’s note: we can understand why!), and for the easiest, the kids’ map “Let’s Save Our Planet” comes to mind.

E: Creating during COVID was a big challenge, especially the quad (four person mode). Paradoxically, the most straightforward was the “extreme” maps; when choreographers are inspired, everything is almost validated from the first rehearsal like “Buscando (Alternative)”.


How do you become a Just Dance coach?

J: You must be a good dancer, a good performer with good reactivity, and succeed at the audition!

E: An outstanding performer even!

Julien, on the “Vodovorot” map

How many takes of the same choreography are there each time? If there is a mistake, what happens?

E: Even in the case of “a single take,” we must do it at least twice in full to have a backup, and if not, if everything is not perfect, we do it all over again (up to ten times!). If there is a mistake (not necessarily in the choreography, it can be a costume problem, a technical bug, etc. ), we start again! We are very demanding and focus on the small details!


Who approves of the choreography?

E: It’s a joint decision of the creative team, the production team, the choreography team, the costume designers and the level designers.


What is your favorite music in the game?

J: The classic “All You Gotta Do Is Just Dance,” which I never tired of!

E: “So Yo”, “Que Tire Pa Lante”, “Old Town Road”, there are too many!

"Que Tire Pa Lante," one of Estelle's favorite maps

How long does it take to shoot a map?

J: It takes an average of a month and a half between the brainstorm and the shoot!

E: Not to mention all the post-production work behind it!


And when you have a co-worker’s party, do you play Just Dance?

J-E: Of course, but there are none at the moment, and we miss them!


Let’s talk about costumes! Which one was the most difficult to dance in?

J: Without any doubt, the dances as a mascot! Particularly in “Con Calma,” where I was a panda. On top of the heat, it is also more challenging to move than in a more conventional costume.

E: Not to mention that the dancers must exaggerate their movements in the mascot costume and put even more energy into it to play well on the screen!


Julien and his colleague, both dancing on the map "Con Calma."

What does a regular day look like for a dancer?

J: After about an hour and a half of costume fittings, we go to rehearsals for about two hours, and we follow up with technical tests, which can be exceptionally long (we are talking about four hours sometimes!)


And finally, the last question – but not least – do the dancers know in advance all the game tracks?

J-E: And no, some tracks remain secret even until they are released!


* On Just Dance, each music the player can select from the menu to dance is called a map. It encompasses all the elements contributing to the playing experience: music, choreography, decor, costumes, pictograms and advice.

Dance games for preschool children | Card file on music (younger group):

Musical and dance games for children

of younger preschool age


  • Teaching - to teach dance games to children of younger preschool age.
  • Developing - to develop the ability to improvise by showing free dance movements during a dance game.
  • Educational - to cultivate a sense of mutual understanding for each other through the process of participating in dance games.

1. Game "For the little ones"

Number of players: any.

Children repeat words and actions after the teacher at a slow, medium, and then at a fast pace; starting to speak in a whisper, then in an undertone and very loudly. It is not recommended to repeat more than three times.

Four steps forward,
Four steps backward,
Let's stomp our feet,
Let's clap our hands.
We blink our eyes,
And then we jump.

2. Repeat after me game or Do as I do

Number of players: any.

Everyone stands in a circle, the leader in the center shows the movements to the music, and the players repeat after him. The music changes, and so does the host. The leader can be chosen by both the teacher and the children themselves.

3. The game "Brook"

Number of players: at least 9 people.

Players stand in pairs one behind the other, representing a high goal. The driver, to the music, passes under the gate, choosing a pair for himself, then becomes ahead of all the pairs. Once again left without a pair, he becomes the leader. There may be several drivers.

4. "Game fashion rock"

Number of players: at least 8 people.

Players stand in pairs in a circle facing each other. The host shows in advance the movements that will need to be performed to the music: side steps right and left for four counts (with a hit on “4”), then 4 steps back (with a hit on “4” and clap), then 4 steps forward , but returning not to his pair, but shifting to the left - to a new partner (partner). Then the movements are performed to the music.

5. Game "Stand in a circle on..."

Number of players: at least 8 people.

Music sounds, children dance randomly, standing in a general circle. By the clap of the leader or the stop of the music, the players must reorganize into a circle from the number of participants that the driver calls, and dance again, but in a new composition.

6. Game "Forbidden Movement"

Number of players: any.

Children stand in a circle to dance. The teacher says that he will randomly show movements to the music, which the guys will have to repeat, but one of them is forbidden, and it is not necessary to repeat it. The one who repeats the forbidden movement will leave the circle. Then one of the children can already drive, inventing a forbidden movement on their own.

7. The game "Big Walk"

Number of players: at least 8 people.

Players pair up in a circle. The host shows in advance the movements that will need to be performed to the music: the children, holding each other by the hands, walk in a circle of 6 steps, turn to each other for “7-8”, then diverge by 4 counts, clap 3 times, stomp 3 times and converge, shifting to the left - to a partner - a neighbor. Then the movements are performed to the music.

8. Peeking game

Number of players: any.

Everyone stands in a circle, dancing to the music. And two sit on chairs in the center back to back, depicting a dance on a chair. The music stops, the dancers must turn their heads to the left or right. If they turn in one direction, they will go to dance in a circle, and a new couple will come in their place at the choice of the teacher. If those on the chairs turn in different directions, they will remain there until their head turns coincide. If, after the third time, the dancers on the chairs do not look in one direction, then, at the request of the teacher, they will have to free the chairs for another couple.

9. Chair dance game

Number of players: any.

Children sit on chairs in a row. The teacher also sits on a chair opposite the children and shows arbitrary movements to the music. Children try to have time to repeat after the teacher. The music stops, the teacher invites someone who wants to take his place.
The new leader shows his movements, and everyone repeats after him, then he vacates his place to another driver. Music may vary.

10. Game "Who is the first?" (with rope)

Number of players: any.

Children sit on chairs in a row. Two drivers sit on chairs in front of them with their backs to each other at a distance and dance to the music. And on the floor under their chairs lies a rope so that, bending down, the driver can reach out with his hand and, while the music stops, pull the rope in his direction. The music stops and the one who first pulls the rope in his direction remains in place, choosing a new opponent for himself. Music can be different and not last long.

11. Game "If you have fun, do it"

Number of players: any.

The leader sings and shows what to do, and the players repeat. Any movement can be.

If life is fun, do this (shows the first movement).
If life is fun, do this (shows the second movement).
If life is fun, let the sun smile at us.
If life is fun, do this (shows the third movement).

Then the leader changes. One of the children can be the driver.

12. Dance game "Let's dance"

Number of players: from 6 people.

Participants stand in a circle, and the facilitator asks them the question: “Are our ears good?”. Answer: "Good." Question: What about the neighbor? Answer: Better! Each participant takes the neighbors on the right and left by the ears, and everyone dances in a circle, saying: “We dance from the heart, from the soul! Our ears are good, good!” (2 times). And then the leader calls another part of the body, for example: elbows, arms, legs, knees, shoulder blades. Anyone can be the leader, but after all participants remember the rules of the game.

The second option "Lavata"

Number of players: any.

Presenter: Let's learn the words of our song:

Together we dance tra-ta-ta
Our cheerful Lavata dance (repeat 2 times).

Host: “Our hands are good! And the neighbor's is better! (Everyone joins hands and sings. )

And so on, each time changing the position of the hands. (“The head is good, the ears are good, the knees are good”, etc.)

13. Dance game “How we can dance”

Number of players: from 5 people (with a rope or skipping rope).

Players line up in a row. The music is turned on, preferably cheerful. The members begin to dance. At this time, any two pull the rope and go towards the dancers. The task of the players is to step over each time without touching the rope, which is raised higher and higher each time. The participant who lasted the longest is the winner.

14. Dance game "Dance of meetings and partings"

Number of players: any.

During the next dynamic dance, which children usually perform in a general circle, the leader suggests choosing a soloist and a soloist. As soon as they are in the center of everyone's attention, the leader will explain that this couple will not dance in the center of the circle for long. As soon as the music stops (and it will definitely stop after 20-30 seconds, the DJ will take care of this), the partner, to the thunderous applause of the dancers, will say goodbye to the partner and invite another soloist into the circle instead of himself. The music will sound again, and everyone will applaud the main couple in the updated line-up. But - again a pause, and this time the partner, to the applause of the audience, will thank the partner for the dance, and invite another soloist instead of herself. So in a solo pair, the partner and partner change in turn, and the intrigue remains: who will be next?

15. Dance game "Partners and partners"

Number of players: 6 girls and 5 boys.

The boys stand in a circle, so that they do not peep, with their backs to each other. The music turns on, and the girls begin to dance (run) in a circle around the partners or from partner to partner. As soon as the music ends, each girl must stand in front of her partner. The one who did not have enough partner leaves and takes one of the partners with her.

The second option: the partners are standing, and the partners are dancing around them.

Third option: Musical chairs. There should be one less chair than the participants. The rules of the game are the same.

16. Musical objects game (hats, balls, gifts, toys)

Number of players: any.

The number of items must be one less than the number of players.
Variant of the game: balls are passed to the music, and there are one less of them than the participants. The music stops and the one without the ball comes out. If the balloon burst, the player is also out of the game. Or, instead of balls, players pass and put on hats. Moreover, you can remove the hat from another player yourself, and not wait until it is handed over. During the stop of the music, the player who does not have an object in his hands leaves.

Second option: to transfer one item. And during the stop of the music, the player who will have the item in his hands comes out. Whoever is the last to be left without an item will be the winner.

The third option: if you play with a gift, then it will be taken by the one who has this gift left at the end of the musical passage. So it can be interesting to give gifts.

17. Dance game "Holiday train"

Number of players: any.

Children stand one after another, holding hands (neighbor's hips). The teacher is ahead of everyone - the leader. Music sounds, everyone starts to move after the driver, repeating the movements that he makes arbitrarily, adding the phrase: “Left rudder! (turn left.) Rudder right! (turn right) Mountains! (get up on tiptoes.) Tunnel! (crouch or bend over.) Forward move! (Move forward.) Reverse! (move back.) Stop!” (leader changes.)

The second version of "Dance Snake": the driver on the go comes up with movements without phrases, and the rest repeat after him. When the music stops (after 20 seconds), the driver goes to the end of the snake, and his neighbor becomes the new driver.

18. Freeze dance figure game

Number of players: any.

The leader stands with his back to the players and says the words:

We clap cheerfully - one.
Great jump - two.
Spinning, spinning - three.
Freeze dance figure.

The players clap their hands, jump, spin, and then freeze in place in a dance pose. The leader turns and chooses in his place the one whose dance figure he liked.

How to party with Just Dance

  • Resources

July 01, 2019

“Just Dance is a dance game, the easiest way to explain it is as “dance karaoke” Anton, the organizer of Just dance parties, tells about the super popular computer game and how to arrange an exciting dance party with its help.

Anastasia Makarova


About the game

I got acquainted with Just Dance in 2009, even before the release of the first part of the game, when I worked at the Igromir exhibition at the demo stand of this very first part. Since then, I have been developing the Just Dance community and do not miss a single new part.
JD is very easy to play. One of the tracks presented in the game is selected. Players are placed in front of the camera, or pick up controllers, and repeat the movements of the dancer on the screen. The game puts a "score" for each movement performed and sums up the result at the end. Depending on the platform, 4 to 6 people can play and earn points at the same time.


A variety of events related to Just Dance are constantly held all over the world and in Russia as well. Some of them are supported by Ubisoft, the company that released the game, but most of the tournaments and parties are organized by the game's community, those people who love to dance in JD. We don't like the term fan club. We have a group of initiative people who organize events, and there is a large community of ordinary Just Dance lovers - guests of our events.

About the rules

There are unspoken "rules of etiquette" that are familiar to experienced Just Dance players - for example, all participants must necessarily dance for the same dancer in the game, judges must ensure that participants do not cover each other or move closer than others to camera, or, for example, you can not compare numerical results from different songs.
But in fact there are no officially approved rules. If the tournament is hosted by people who are not associated with Ubisoft or who do not have much experience in organizing Just Dance, then anything can be on it - they can both violate the above rules, and, conversely, add some stricter ones of their own.

At parties, unlike tournaments, we try to take a backseat to earning points, and all participants just dance for their pleasure, repeating the moves from Just Dance. This allows you to involve an almost unlimited number of participants at the same time.

In official Ubisoft tournaments, the rules are documented immediately before each tournament. Sometimes they count not only the points of the players earned in the game itself, but also, for example, the score of the judges who evaluate the dance component and the accuracy of the players' performance or the audience vote.

About the players

The greatest interest in Just Dance is, of course, shown by children and young people under 30, but this is if we talk specifically about those who attend parties or somehow try to express themselves through Just Dance.
But people of absolutely all professions and ages love to play at home with family or friends.

Of course, in our community there are famous people, their own stars. First of all, these are the winners of championships of different levels, as well as YouTubers and streamers who make Just Dance content.
There are also those who organize events or gather people around them, like us. The same people exist in other countries. This also attracts some attention.)


Each part offers 40 songs to players, plus additional dances and dances from old parts are available by subscription. Just Dance features many different styles, but most of it is contemporary pop and dance. In the playlist of any part, there are older songs, and dances for Latin lovers, and children's dances - but these are single tracks. There are themed playlists in which songs are grouped by style. But, of course, you cannot choose a style for each specific song - all the dances in the game are pre-recorded and cannot be changed at the player's request.

If you set a goal, then using the game you can pump yourself well in dancing. But for this you need to devote a lot of time to training, and also receive adequate feedback - participate in tournaments, go to parties, dance in front of a mirror, or record yourself on camera.
But, even if you just sometimes play at home and learn dances, this can already give a good result - help you open up, help you gain flexibility, endurance and a sense of rhythm.

Just Dance Party Supplies

  • TV or Projector Screen
  • Audio system or speakers
  • Game console or computer
  • Controller (can also be a smartphone)
  • Just Dance Software
  • Dance space
About hardware and software

Just Dance is primarily a game that is designed to entertain at home in one's own company. You can buy a disc with Just Dance for any modern game console (even for the Nintendo Wii). For some platforms, you may need to purchase additional controllers, but, for example, for the Nintendo switch, everything you need is already included in the console itself.
If there is no console at hand, then you can use the Just Dance Now application on a computer or Apple TV - in this case, instead of controllers, players can use their mobile phones (on current generation consoles, the phone can also be used as a controller).

In order to play at a party, you can simply put up a TV and allocate a small space (literally a few meters), and then 5-10 people can comfortably dance. Or you can put up a huge plasma screen or a projector, connect a powerful sound and not limit the space - and then dozens of people will be able to dance at the same time.

About love

We love this game and have been doing it for so many years, because it's a great combination of physical activity and gaming experience, and it's really very interesting.

Learn more