How to describe dancing
dance | Definition, Characteristics, Types, History, People, & Facts
Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Peasant Dance
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- Key People:
- Igor Youskevitch Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Claudio Monteverdi Igor Stravinsky Sergey Prokofiev
- Related Topics:
- Western dance Latin American dance ballet folk dance Native American dance
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Read a brief summary of this topic
dance, the movement of the body in a rhythmic way, usually to music and within a given space, for the purpose of expressing an idea or emotion, releasing energy, or simply taking delight in the movement itself.
Dance is a powerful impulse, but the art of dance is that impulse channeled by skillful performers into something that becomes intensely expressive and that may delight spectators who feel no wish to dance themselves. These two concepts of the art of dance—dance as a powerful impulse and dance as a skillfully choreographed art practiced largely by a professional few—are the two most important connecting ideas running through any consideration of the subject. In dance, the connection between the two concepts is stronger than in some other arts, and neither can exist without the other.
Although the above broad definition covers all forms of the art, philosophers and critics throughout history have suggested different definitions of dance that have amounted to little more than descriptions of the kind of dance with which each writer was most familiar. Thus, Aristotle’s statement in the Poetics that dance is rhythmic movement whose purpose is “to represent men’s characters as well as what they do and suffer” refers to the central role that dance played in classical Greek theatre, where the chorus through its movements reenacted the themes of the drama during lyric interludes.
The English ballet master John Weaver, writing in 1721, argued on the other hand that “Dancing is an elegant, and regular movement, harmoniously composed of beautiful Attitudes, and contrasted graceful Posture of the Body, and parts thereof. ” Weaver’s description reflects very clearly the kind of dignified and courtly movement that characterized the ballet of his time, with its highly formalized aesthetics and lack of forceful emotion. The 19th-century French dance historian Gaston Vuillier also emphasized the qualities of grace, harmony, and beauty, distinguishing “true” dance from the supposedly crude and spontaneous movements of early man:
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The choreographic art . . . was probably unknown to the earlier ages of humanity. Savage man, wandering in forests, devouring the quivering flesh of his spoils, can have known nothing of those rhythmic postures which reflect sweet and caressing sensations entirely alien to his moods. The nearest approach to such must have been the leaps and bounds, the incoherent gestures, by which he expressed the joys and furies of his brutal life.
John Martin, the 20th-century dance critic, almost ignored the formal aspect of dance in emphasizing its role as a physical expression of inner emotion. In doing so, he betrayed his own sympathy toward the Expressionist school of modern American dance: “At the root of all these varied manifestations of dancing . . . lies the common impulse to resort to movement to externalise states which we cannot externalise by rational means. This is basic dance.”
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A truly universal definition of dance must, therefore, return to the fundamental principle that dance is an art form or activity that utilizes the body and the range of movement of which the body is capable. Unlike the movements performed in everyday living, dance movements are not directly related to work, travel, or survival. Dance may, of course, be made up of movements associated with these activities, as in the work dances common to many cultures, and it may even accompany such activities. But even in the most practical dances, movements that make up the dance are not reducible to those of straightforward labour; rather, they involve some extra qualities such as self-expression, aesthetic pleasure, and entertainment.
This article discusses the techniques and components of dance as well as the aesthetic principles behind its appreciation as an art. Various types of dance are discussed with emphasis on their style and choreography. The history of dance in various regions is treated in a number of articles; see dance, African; music and dance, Oceanic; dance, Western; arts, Central Asian; arts, East Asian; arts, Islamic; dance, Native American; arts, South Asian; and arts, Southeast Asian. The interaction between dance and other art forms is discussed in folk dance.
How to write a Professional Dance Scene (Tips and Examples)
So you don’t know how to write a dance scene? The words to use, the actions to describe. It can be challenging. What’s too much? What’s too little?
This post will give eight tips on writing dance scenes in a screenplay that most people miss and give actual dance scene examples from scripts accompanied by the movie scene.
So you can write your next dance scene, whether that be:
- Slow dance
- Salsa dance
- Dancing in a club
- Lap dance
- Pole dance
1.) Know the Dance Style and Tell the Reader
This first tip will break the show don’t tell rule, but in specific scenarios, it’s justified.
Whether it’s a classical ballet dance or a tap dance.
Saying what type of dance we are about to read on the page is the best way to describe it. It doesn’t matter how you tell them as long as it’s in there.
They enter a wonderland of hip-hop break dancers.
She laces up her ballerina shoes.
Announcer Next up to the pole, we call her...White Diamond.
It’s best towards the beginning, especially if the movie isn’t about a dancer and this is a one-off scene. You have to let the reader know what type of dance is happening.
Naming, the dance in the opening, helps the reader imagine what the setting looks like and how slow or fast the dance is happening.
If it’s in a nightclub, people will assume it’s fast-paced unless described differently. If it’s in a strip club, people will think it’s slow and sexual.
We will get in some great ways to describe it, but you must first understand, what you say is more important than how you say it.
2.) Dance scenes are written short
This tip always stops people in their tracks. But yes, dance scenes are written short and not that descriptive.
In my research, every single written dance scene is shorter than the actual movie version. Generally, for every one page in a script, it equals one minute on the screen. But for most scenes with motion, like dance scenes, action scenes, fight scenes.
Screenplays are just a blueprint for a film, so when writing, remember naming every twirl, flip, or spin isn’t just not needed it’s arguably considered bad writing.
How short are we talking?
I’ve read dance scenes that say
Yes, Hollywood produced screenplays.
Example:Pulp Fiction ScreenplayPulp Fiction Dance Scene
The director will come up with what it looks like; it’s your job to come up with what it feels like. It’s your job to write the essential parts. Now that’s extreme, but it shows how minuscule this part of your script should be.
Example 2:LALA Land ScreenplayLALA Land Opening Scene
Even in a musical, The entire four-minute scene is written in half a page.
4.) Describe the Whole Emotion, not the Entire Dance
When writing a dance scene, you want to give a feeling. This feeling should reflect the tone at the moment.
The non verble comunication.
What are the expressions and emotions your character gives off while dancing? These words are far more valuable in a dance scene than the actual move itself.
There are no dance descriptions even written just about the emotion the protagonist is feeling.
But what dance moves do you describe? Keep reading.
3.) Only Describe the Essential Dance Moments
What is essential?
The broad strokes of a dance or the most crucial moment.
- The big move for the judges.
- The hardest part for the dancer to pull off.
- The moment of significantly heightened emotion.
If you watch movies, every dance scene has one. And if you read the screenplays, the writer usually writes only that part.
4.) Use Vivid Action Words
How do you describe dance in words? Don’t use dance terminology unless your writing about some Olympic or sporting event. Or if the term is being used in dialogue.
We can talk about what you don’t do because there aren’t firm rules on what you should do when it comes to creativity.
But generally use words that paint a picture. The image you give with your words is all that matters.
Don’t write this
or better yet
She floats in the air.
Think about it everyone jumps basketball players, kids on the playground. But “floating” paints a picture of grace I can see. It’s specific to a ballerina or contemporary dance.
She dances with her hands up.
Her hands held rollercoaster high, raging to the beat of the drum.
I’m trying to describe dancing in a club or a Rave.
Since we are trying not to bore the reader with too many details, we have to paint an image with the words we know. Think what type of jump it was? Basic terms will not work when describing a dance. You have to think harder than that.
5.) Break Up More Extended Scenes with Dialogue
Dialogue is a great way to break up any action, including dance. It stops your dance scene from being two-wordy and keeps the reader engaged.
I think about the Mr. and misses smith dance scene. This scene is quite long, but what keeps it intresting is the antiques and wordplay from both assassins trying to get the upper hand during the dance.
Example:Mr. and Mrs. Smith Dance Scene6.) Know the Steaks of the Dance Scene
Who wins or loses.
Not purely speaking from a competition sense but ask yourself:
- What do we find out about the protagonist?
- What questions do we have after the scene?
The actions your character takes during the dance scene speak volumes.
Just like the Mr. and Mrs. Smith example above, we can tell by the conversation they don’t trust each other, but by the end, we find out that maybe in their marriage, real feelings were involved.
Find out the steaks of the scene, who wins and who loses based on the result of the scene.
If you noticed, this isn’t much of a Dance scene thing but how to write a scene in general because every scene must have these things.
This brings me to my second to the last point.7.) What do we Discover as a Result of the Dance Scene?
There has to be an end goal of discovery. If not, it doesn’t matter how amazing your wordplay is or your character’s actions.
By looking at your story from a birds-eye view, a skilled reader will know you have no idea what you’re doing.
Example:LALA Land SceenplayLALA Land Dance Scene
8. Reference the Sound
Sound is just as big a part of a dance scene as the physical movement is, so don’t hesitate to engage more of the readers’ senses by referencing the sounds that the viewer will hear in the scene, such as the music or, like in this scene from Black Swan, the way that the music ends.
In this post, you learned:
What not to do when writing dance scenes just as much as what to do.
- Tell the reader the type of dance upfront.
- Keep them short—preferably short, punchy sentences.
- Emotion trumps actions.
- Never use dance terminology. It confuses the reader.
- Have a point ot the dance scene.
Now its time to hear from you:
Did I miss anything?
How have you seen dance scenes written in screenplays?
Whatever your answers are, let’s hear them in the comments below.
Posted in How to Guides By D.K.WilsonPosted on Tagged dance scene
The Art of Hearing the Dance: Practices of Foreign Schools of Audio Description / "Un Certain Regard"Listen to the publication
Tiflocommentary: color photograph. The figure of a red-haired dancer frozen in a jump against the backdrop of the sea. She has lush red hair and a slender three-quarter body. The girl is wearing a short tight-fitting black top with a closed neck and bare shoulders, shorts and a long translucent black skirt fluttering in the wind. She lifts the edge of her skirt with straight outstretched arms. The dancer seems to be standing in the air on her left knee, her right leg is bent and raised high up. She tilted her head slightly and looked down.
"Dance is a poem, every movement in it is a word." This statement is attributed to the famous adventurer and dancer Margareta Gertrude Zella, whom the whole world knows under the name of Mata Hari. But the words of such a poem are not available to everyone. Already from the very definition of the word "dance" - the art of plastic and rhythmic movements of the body - it is obvious that vision plays a big role in its perception. What remains if you do not see the movements of the dancers? Music? Strained breathing? Rustle of clothes? The sound of footsteps? Can all this interest the viewer and give him pleasure?
Audio description (which in our country is called audio commentary) is a way to convey the beauty of dance to people who, for one reason or another, cannot see it. Joel Snyder, one of the leading experts in this field, calls audio description a form of literary work and likens it to a haiku. With just a few words, the audio descriptor creates a verbal copy of the visual image, translates the visible into the audible. Bright, figurative words draw vivid pictures before the mind's eye of the listener.
“Dance is not just movement,” says Iris Permuy Hercules de Solas, audio descriptor for dance TV shows on a Spanish TV channel. “Dance conveys feelings and moods. This is artistic art. The dancer draws pictures with his whole body, creates ephemeral masterpieces that the audio descriptor must have time to consider and describe.
“The entire visible universe is movement,” said dance teacher and theorist Rudolf von Laban. To describe this movement to someone who does not see it is not an easy task. However, it is quite doable.
Anne Hornsby, one of the UK's first audio descriptions, has described many theater productions, including the famous Mamma Mia! and Les Misérables, believes that special choreographic education is not required: “Only the usual skills of verbal description are needed. The ability to briefly, but figuratively express their thoughts; attentiveness and observation; the ability to convey the mood of the work; the ability to meet the allotted time - that's what really matters. At the same time, the soundscape and music cannot be drowned out – the viewer must hear their breathing.”
Do all dances need to be described? In the back of the hall, a barefoot girl is dancing a contemporary dance. She wears knee-high athletic trousers and a loose gray T-shirt. She stands on a straight right leg, the left straight leg is raised to the level of the waist and laid aside, the body is tilted to the opposite side, the right arm bent at the elbow is raised up, the left is wound behind the back. The operator shoots the girl's dance on a video camera.
If we are not talking about an independent dance production, but about an episode of a play or a film, then, on the advice of the leading specialist in audio description of dance, the author of the Talking Dance manual, Louise Fryer, you need to ask yourself an important question: what role does this dance play? Is it necessary for the development of the plot? Perhaps he somehow reveals the character of the characters? Maybe he tells about the relationship between the heroes of the production? Do these relationships change after or even during the dance? Or does the dance simply fill in a pause in the play so that the actors can change for the next scene? Does dance contribute to creating a certain atmosphere? For example, it can immerse us in a historical era.
During the same performance or film, we can see different types of dance that serve completely different purposes. The audio descriptor must understand the intent of the scriptwriter and director and, depending on this, choose a way to describe this or that dance. “The choreographer and director can help a lot by sharing their vision,” says Louise Fryer. “It’s also good to be present at the rehearsal.”
Photo: Tim Gouw
Tiflocommentary: seashore, cloudy sky and bright orange rays of the setting sun. Five girls dance on the platform, they run one after another in a circle: the left hand is raised up, the hand is turned with the palm to the sky, the right hand is bent at the elbow and directed forward with the palm away from you. All of them are in white corsets tightened on the back with thin straps. Four girls are wearing light long light skirts with a fluttering frill at the bottom, while the fifth girl is wearing a more fluffy light skirt with rows of frills along the entire length. She rises high from quick movements, under the skirt of the dancer there are light tights with lace.
Audio description is a kind of translation (intersemiotic or intersemiotic, according to the classification of R.O. Jacobson). As Bruce Metzger wrote: “Translation is the art of choosing the right thing to lose.” These words fully apply to the description of the dance. Depending on its goals and the plot of the work, sometimes you need to focus on the technique of the dancers, sometimes on the costumes, sometimes on the behavior of the characters during the dance, and in some cases it is enough just to say that the characters are dancing without going into details, so how they can distract from the development of the plot.
The well-known film translator Aleksey Kozulyaev repeatedly emphasizes that the audio descriptor is part of the "collective author" of an audiovisual work, and each addresses the viewer in his own language: costume designers - in the language of costumes, the composer - in the language of music, actors - in the language of words, facial expressions and gestures, the director - in the language of images, etc. All together they create a single work. The task of the audio descriptor is to merge into the structure of this collective author so that his “language” organically fits into the general choir.
It must be remembered that a person comes to a performance or a cinema to relax and enjoy. Therefore, you can not overload the viewer with an abundance of details. An overly detailed description can be accurate, but it also confuses viewers and distracts from the plot.
Choice of word
The dancers themselves say that when you dance for real, you involuntarily discover that you don't have enough words, and there are not enough concepts in any language of the world to convey your feelings. Isadora Duncan, for example, said: "If you could explain something in words, there would be no point in dancing it." No wonder they say that dance is like love: this state can be felt, but it is very difficult to describe.
“You need to create verbal pictures of the movements of the dancers,” says Ann Hornsby, “but in a way that does not sound like a dry description of physical exercises. ” Iris Permuy Hercules de Solas adds: "It takes a rich vocabulary to describe it colorfully, gracefully, energetically, sadly, just like the dance itself."
Tiflocommentary: color photograph. Scene. The dancer in a black suit stands with his back to the audience, his right leg is set aside on his toe, his left hand is extended to the dancer, who is flying back in a jump with her arms spread apart. She looks at the dancer and smiles broadly. She is wearing a white suit: a tutu with a flat skirt, a leotard with thin straps with golden embroidery in the center, white leggings and pointe shoes. The dancers are watched by performers dressed as villagers. In the depths of the stage, in the blue twilight, there are scenery with buildings and the silhouette of a tilted ship.
The choice of the right word is the most important moment in the description of the dance, according to all specialists. “For people who are far from choreography, the most terrible thing is the special terminology,” says Louise Fryer. - Knowledge of professional terms will not hurt. Describing, say, architecture, we want to show the difference between the Norman arch from the Gothic or the Ionic order from the Corinthian. By the same logic, it is important for us to know whether this ballet rotation is a pirouette or not. Of course, not everyone may know what a pirouette is (although there may be experts in the auditorium), however, if we use a special term, we thereby emphasize that it is ballet on stage, and not ballroom dancing.
Anne Hornsby stresses that the meaning of the terms must be clarified. Sometimes, when describing a ballet, it is useful to make an introduction before it begins and explain there what the words “pirouette”, “arabesque”, “fuete”, etc. mean.
Ann Hornsby explains: “The meanings of some words are clear without explanation. However, if possible, brief explanations do not hurt. But what you should not do is just list professional terms and dance moves. The viewer simply does not have time to comprehend all this in a short time. In addition, such a technical description will not say anything about the quality of the movement, its speed, the plot of the dance, the emotions of the hero and his motives.
Laban's movement analysis
The well-known choreographer, dance theorist, teacher Rudolf von Laban developed a movement analysis system that is still used today. He discovered that any dance step exists in four dimensions, or factors: space, time, dynamics and flow. Therefore, the process of motion analysis begins with finding out the following main points: where the motion occurs; why the movement occurs; how the movement occurs; What are the traffic restrictions? All this will help the audio descriptor to find the right words.
It is relatively easy to describe a dance that has a story. However, as von Laban noted, “modern dance may lack a clear story. It is often impossible to convey the content of the dance in words, although the movements themselves can always be described.
He further explains: “An actress playing the part of Eve can pick the forbidden fruit in different ways, while her movements will express different emotions. She can seize the fruit greedily and quickly, or slowly and sensually. But when we describe movement as “greedy,” “sensual,” or “dispassionate,” we are not really talking about what we see. The viewer at this moment sees a fast and sharp or slow and sliding movement of the hand. And already the imagination interprets the actions of Eve as greedy or sensual.
Joel Snyder notes that von Laban is essentially referring to the fundamental principle of audio description: "Describe only what you see." “It's important to be precise,” Snyder explains, “but the description needs to be alive so that the listener paints the picture in their own mind. You need to be objective, using precise and figurative words, while avoiding interpretation. That is, our Eve “plucks an apple with a sharp, impetuous movement of her hand,” and not “with a mixed expression of greed and guilt on her face.”
Tiflocommentary: color photograph. Light walls, gray door, padlocked. To the left, a diagonal of a metal staircase with a railing rises up. Halfway up, a ballerina in a black leotard with lace-trimmed straps and a cutout at the chest. She stands on her right leg, with her right hand extended forward, holding on to the parapet, her left leg and left arm raised at an angle of 45 degrees and laid parallel back. The body is turned towards the viewer, the back is strongly concave. Her hair is pulled back into a bun, and on her feet are flesh-coloured pointe shoes.
Dance is the language of tradition
Description of traditional dances is a separate line of audio description. Dr. Doning Liang of the Hong Kong Audio Description Association has extensive experience in describing Chinese dances, in particular the famous Lion Dance. One of the difficulties is that completely different people will listen to the description: both those who are familiar with this dance and those who hear about it for the first time.
“I'm not just describing the dance,” says Doning, “I'm sort of acting as a teacher for blind people. The Lion Dance is one of the world's most famous performances of Chinese traditional culture. Everyone should have the opportunity to learn more about him.”
Rudolf von Laban stated: "Everything that happens in the theater is not limited to what is happening on the stage and in the auditorium: between these two poles there is a continuous flow of magnetism." But what if this interaction between the stage and the audience is interrupted because the audience cannot fully perceive the action taking place? Audio description is a way to restore the lost connection and redirect this flow of energy from the actor to the viewer.
Beautiful phrases about dance - Catch phrases
While dancing, a person allows himself the luxury of being himself.
Dance is the vertical expression of horizontal desire.
When two dance, they dance - love ...
Dance is the only art for which we ourselves serve as the material.
Dance always adds new colors to your life.
Sometimes it doesn't matter what kind of dance you dance... It's much more important who you do it with!
Dance is a poem, every movement in it is a word.
Dance is a bridge between soul and body.
Only dance makes music visible.
Everything in the universe is rhythmic. Everyone is dancing.
Only in silence can a word be heard. Only in complete darkness - to see the stars. And the great dance is always danced on the edge of the abyss, over the terrible abyss.
Dance is a breath of something new. Something that is hidden deep inside of you. Dance is an opportunity to become different for a while.
Dance like no one is watching!
When we give ourselves entirely to the spirit of dance, it becomes prayer.
Dance is a huge world, you need to have patience to conquer it.
Make time for yourself. Dance. It is so uplifting, inspiring and captivating! When you dance, you live!
Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.
If a man does not like how his woman dances, then this woman is not his.
When you dance, you express all your feelings.
Dance is a huge energy that nourishes every cell of the body and gives strength to move on. It is a feeling of freedom and flight.
Dancing means being outside of yourself, bigger, stronger, more beautiful. In the dance - power, in the dance - the greatness of the Earth, it is yours - take it entirely.
Dance is the song of the body, its joy or pain.
In the dance, you are who you want to be at that moment.
Dance is the secret language of the soul.
Dance is a conversation between two people: a man and a woman. The dance style determines the theme… The most eloquent conversation is the tango!
Life in dance is harder, but much richer.
People don't stop dancing because they get old, they get old because they stop dancing.
Dance is an art that reflects the soul.
A dance becomes perfect if it creates music.
The dancer's body is simply a luminous manifestation of his soul.
Dancing is not a drug, but oxygen!
Dancing with your feet is one thing, dancing with your heart is another.
Dance is a language that the whole world understands.
Dance can reveal all the secrets that lie in music.
Dance is your pulse, your heartbeat, your breath. This is the rhythm of your life. It is an expression in time and movement, in happiness, joy, sadness and envy.
To dance means to let your partner into your personal space, it means to trust one hundred percent. Life is the same dance.
Dance not with your body, but with your soul. So your dance will take on a life of its own, it will be life itself.
Dance for yourself. If someone understands - good, if not - it does not matter, continue to do what you love.
I dance because I am happy. I dance because I am free.
I'm not pretending.