The three choreographic elements of dance are the dance itself, the movement by which it is danced, and the expression of that movement. To find a dance that fulfills all three, which is what the American choreographer James Brown calls the most important element in contemporary dance, you would have to dig a little deeper than a “simple” three dance. You would have to see something more than a three- or ten-foot step. You would have to see something more complex that has a rhythm and that can be made to work within a dance.
In addition to this, a dance has to have three basic characteristics: rhythm, movement, and expression.
Rhythm refers to the combination of the steps and the rhythmically complex combinations of dance. A dance has rhythm if it has three or more rhythms. If a dance has three rhythms of different duration, rhythm is possible — if it’s been made in a three-step format. Rhythm is expressed in a dance by how closely the steps are aligned together. Rhythm in a three-step dance translates into a dance’s ability to create space — and create it well.
Movement refers to the rhythm of each step and its movements — what movements in a dance you can see as the dance progresses. This is the time spent rotating. A dance has an inherent movement called an excitatory or excitatory-compensatory principle. This is a type of movement where the steps are placed in the rhythmic sequence in an effort to gain height in heightening the intensity of the rhythmic action. Moving a dance from one foot position to another is an excitatory movement. Movements in dances which create motion and momentum are excitatory.
For example: in a three-step, step-reversed dance, the dancer goes from one foot position to the other on one step in an attempt to gain height. This is excitatory. In the same manner, in a two-step, step-reversed dance, the dancer also goes up one step, or down from one foot position, on one step in an attempt to gain height. This is excitatory. A dancer who steps and starts to repeat a step, or starts a dance, with the same foot in sequence is excitatory.
In addition to all these basic characteristics, a dance has to have rhythm, movement, and expression. These are each important to dance and to the listener. For a dance to be a great dance,
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