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Dance has been likened to architecture in that both subjects are all about DESIGN / LINE. Design in architecture has to do with the design of the exterior and interior of a building - what it looks like when constructed. This includes both the floor plan as well as the elevations.

Dance is the same - it has to do with how the body appears when dancing - including the floor plan and the elevations! The difference is that dance is both static (like architecture) and kinetic. And the challenge of this for a dancer is how to maintain good line while moving.

I have found that the solution for challenges with good design is laying down the foundation for good design right away, and like everything in dance - Drill- Drill - Drill and PRACTICE! I teach posture and placement right away and drill it in every class. I give dancers critiques which include design comments and suggestions. Like anything learned, if you practice it wrong you habituate bad habits. Teaches must insist on good design! what is Design in dance?

DESIGN/LINE in Dance: The creation of aesthetically pleasing static and/or kinetic lines in motion or when still. This is accomplished through:

  1. Posture and Placement

  2. Symmetry and Asymmetry: Body Positions

  3. Angels & Levels.

  4. Use of Space: Spatial Positions, 4-Corners and Walls and directionel transitions.

  5. Floor & Air Designs.

  6. Group Formations.

A. Posture and Placement are the body’s way of creating design.

1. Consider Belly Dance Postures, Arm Positions and Stances. how good does the body look at any given movement when dancing? If you took a snap shot of a dancer moving or in stillness, how would her posture and placement appear?

B. Symmetry vs. Asymmetry. Symmetry is the front and back stances which are equal on both sides. Symmetry creates calm and order. Asymmetry creates drama and tension. If a dance is to symmetrical it risks being too predictable and boring; if too asymmetrical it can become chaotic. A soloist uses posture, placement and positions and poses to creates varieties of symmetry and asymmetry.

1. Static: Body Positions (go over them)

2. Kinetic: 2-4 of everything, usually. Create a

C. Use of Space in Floor Design and Directions.

1. Spatial Positions – 4 Walls & 4 Corners; Grids

2. Floor Designs – Have them move in groups between them

Floor Design is the design the body(ies) makes on the floor. Examples are.

  1. Circle to a line and line to a circle

  2. “V” to inverted “V”

  3. Crossing from corners & walls in pairs on diagonal lines.

  4. Crossing lines from stage right to stage left; upstage and downstage.

  5. Crossing lines in opposition moving to opposite sides

  6. “T” into straight line or diagonal line.

  7. Coil and explode to 4 corners and walls

  8. Zig-zag or “S” moving line

  9. Triplets become circle or line

  10. Etc. Etc. ......

Floor design is much more complicated when working with a group that with a soloist. A soloist creates interesting design using Air Design more than Floor design.

Air Design has to do with Posture and Placement; See Belly Dance Positions, (Symmetrical and Asymmetrical) Angels & Levels, Use of Space: Spatial Positions, 4-Corners and Walls and the use of props.

Air Design is the line/design traced in the air above the floor. There are many elements to this but here are some basics.

  1. Vertical Placement of the Body:

  • From the dancer’s chest upward = The high area of the dancer’s body is the spiritual or intellectual realm.

  • From the Chest to the hips = The medium space of the dancer’s body is the Emotional realm.

  • From the hips down to the feet = The low zone or the sensual/sexual realm of the body.

2. Angles of Placement:

  • Flat – Facing Forward or Backwards.

  • Profile - Right or left.

  • Diagonal – Right Corners, Front or Back; Left Corners, Front or Back.

3. Moving Lines: The savants of Indian drama say;

“Where the hand goes, the eye follows; where the eye goes the mind follows; where the mind goes, the heart follows, and thus is born expression. (Sanskrit writing)

  • Drawn Line: A solid line drawn in the air by a moving limb or prop.

  • Implied Line: This is the line drawn beyond the visible line with the Line of Focus.

  • Delayed Line: The awareness of the inanimate object which accompanies the dancers movements such as a skirt or veil.

We are currently working on Design in Choreography class and it is helping the students learn how to compose a choreography beyond the simple act of stringing together movements. Stay tuned for more on choreography, or better yet - come to class! 6/5- 7/24. 7:15-8:30 Westside Dance, Santa Barbara. $15.00 drop-in. ~ Alexandra King

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