Choreographic notation for the ballet La Bayadère.

Choreography is the art of designing sequences of movements in which motion, form, or both are specified. Choreography may also refer to the design itself, which is sometimes expressed by means of dance notation. The word choreography literally means "dance-writing" from the Greek words "χορεία" (circular dance, see choreia) and "γραφή" (writing). A choreographer is one who creates choreographies.

The term choreography first appeared in the American English dictionary in the 1950s.[1] Prior to this, movie credits used various terms to mean choreography, such as "ensembles staged by"[2] and "dances staged by".[3]

Choreography is used in the fields of cheerleading, cinematography, dance, gymnastics, fashion shows, ice skating, marching band, show choir, theatre, and synchronized swimming.


In dance, choreography is also known as dance composition. Dance compositions are created by applying one or both of these fundamental choreographic techniques:

  • Improvisation, in which a choreographer provides dancers with a score (i.e., generalized directives) that serves as guidelines for improvised movement and form. For example, a score might direct one dancer to withdraw from another dancer, who in turn is directed to avoid the withdrawal, or it might specify a sequence of movements that are to be executed in an improvised manner over the course of a musical phrase, as in contra dance choreography. Improvisational scores typically offer wide latitude for personal interpretation by the dancer.
  • Planned choreography, in which a choreographer dictates motion and form in detail, leaving little or no opportunity for the dancer to exercise personal interpretation.

See also



  • Ballet choreographers
  • Choreographers


  1. ^ "Frankie Manning: Lindy Hop Pioneer". Presented by Amanda Wilde. Radio Intersection. KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio. 2006-10-26. 12:31 minutes in.
  2. ^ Mark Sandrich (Director) (1935). Top Hat (DVD). RKO Radio Pictures. Event occurs at 00:01:15. Retrieved 2007-08-08. "Ensembles Staged by Hermes Pan" 
  3. ^ Edward Cahn (Director) (1942). Our Gang in "Melodies Old and New" (DVD). Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Event occurs at 00:00:20. Retrieved 2007-08-07. "Dancer Staged by Steven Granger and Gladys Rubens" 

Further reading

  • Blom, L, A. and Tarin Chaplin, L. (1989) The Intimate Act of Choreography. Dance Books. ISBN 0-8229-5342-0
  • Ellfeldt, L. (1998) A Primer for Choreographers . Waveland Press. ISBN 0-88133-350-6
  • Minton, S, C. (1997) Choreography: A Basic Approach Using Improvisation. Human Kinetics . ISBN 0-88011-529-7
  • Tufnell, M. and Vaughan, D. (1999) Body Space Image : Notes Toward Improvisation and Performance. Princeton Book Co. ISBN 1-85273-041-2
  • Smith-Autard, J, M. (2000) Dance Composition. Routledge. ISBN 0-87830-118-6

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Choreography — Chor e*og ra*phy, n. [Gr. ? dance + graphy.] 1. The art of representing dancing by signs, as music is represented by notes; also called {choregraphy}. [1913 Webster +PJC] 2. the art of composing dances for individuals or groups, including the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • choreography — c.1789, from Fr. chorégraphie, coined from Gk. khoreia dance (see CHORUS (Cf. chorus)) + graphein to write (see GRAPHY (Cf. graphy)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • choreography — ► NOUN 1) the sequence of steps and movements in dance. 2) the practice of designing such sequences. DERIVATIVES choreographic adjective choreographically adverb. ORIGIN from Greek khoreia dancing in unison , from khoros chorus …   English terms dictionary

  • choreography — [kə reg′rə fēkôr΄ē äg′rə fē] n. [Gr choreia, dance + GRAPHY] 1. dancing, esp. ballet dancing 2. the arrangement or the written notation of the movements of a dance, esp. a ballet 3. the art of devising dances, esp. ballets: Also Rare choregraphy… …   English World dictionary

  • choreography — choreographic /kawr ee euh graf ik, kohr /, adj. choreographically, adv. /kawr ee og reuh fee, kohr /, n. 1. the art of composing ballets and other dances and planning and arranging the movements, steps, and patterns of dancers. 2. the technique… …   Universalium

  • choreography —    Originally referring to dance notation, by the beginning of the twentieth century the term came to mean the art of making dances as this is understood in the context of Western theatre dance forms. In the radical social, political and artistic …   Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture

  • choreography — noun (plural phies) Etymology: French chorégraphie, from Greek choreia + French graphie graphy Date: circa 1789 1. the art of symbolically representing dancing 2. a. the composition and arrangement of dances especially for ballet …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Choreography — Dienstkomposition (engl.: service composition) ist ein Begriff aus der Informatik und beschreibt die Art und Weise wie Dienste miteinander verknüpft sind. Da der Begriff meistens im Bereich der Serviceorientierten Architektur verwendet wird, ist… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • choreography — [[t]kɒ̱riɒ̱grəfi, AM kɔ͟ː [/t]] N UNCOUNT Choreography is the inventing of steps and movements for ballets and other dances. The choreography of Eric Hawkins is considered radical by ballet audiences …   English dictionary

  • choreography — Choregraphy Cho*reg ra*phy, n. [Gr. ? dance + graphy.] 1. The art of representing dancing by signs, as music is represented by notes; also called {choreography}. Craig. [Archaic] [1913 Webster +PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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