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Dance Glossary…DEF

Our Dance Glossary continues with DEF…

Use these terms in your teaching, to update your existing knowledge and educate your class.

We will update and add to the glossary on a regular basis. Please let us know if you have an idea for an entry you’d like to see.


Directions (Space): the way that dancers move through the space. Could be travelling in a forwards, backwards, sideways direction or moving using compass points: north, south, east or west.

Down Rock: floor-based footwork – usually in Hip Hop dancing.  The hands and feet support the body in intricate footwork sequences such as the 6-step.

Downward Dog: a yoga position – great for developing the vestibular system as you are upside down and also for improving strength and flexibility. Start by laying on your tummy. Place your hands on the floor by your chest and tuck your toes under. Push up onto the hands and feet, sending your bottom towards the ceiling and stretching out long through your spine and legs.

Duet: a dance for two people

Dynamics: the quality of the movement – how you are moving, not what you are doing.  Often used to communicate an emotion / character or to provide contrast and variation to the movement.  Each style of dance will require its own set of dynamics (eg.  Street Dance is often performed with strong, weighted movements, where as Contemporary is often performed with a sense of fluidity and release).


Elevation: the height of a jump or leap – the ability to raise yourself off the floor.

Entrances / Exits: how a dancer arrives and leaves the performance area.  Consider which parts of the space can be used for the dancers to enter and exit from, including through the audience.


Facial Expression: the emotion or feeling that the dancer needs to convey to the audience – usually linked to a character or atmosphere or specific style of dance.  Remember to use your face in a dance performance – what should it be doing?  Where should the focus of the eyes be?

Facings (Space): the direction that the dancer is facing in the space eg. the front (usually towards the audience), to the side or back, or at an angle / diagonal.

5 positions of the feet: usually in reference to Ballet.  The five positions (in turn out from the hips) are

  • 1st (feet in a V shape)
  • 2nd (feet in a wide stance)
  • 3rd (one foot crossed in front of the other, but in contact with each other)
  • 4th (feet similar to 3rd position, but farther apart so one foot is away and forwards from the other foot)
  • 5th (a similar crossed position to 3rd, but more extreme so that the toes of each foot are as close to the heels of the other foot as possible).

Freestyle: where the dancers can create their own moves, usually spontaneously.  Often used in Hip Hop dance where dancers compete to show off their best moves.

Freeze: A position that is still.  Usually in reference to Hip Hop dance where dancers suddenly stop in a interesting or challenging pose, often by balancing only on one hand.

Next time…check out our Glossary for GHIJ!

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