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Dance Glossary…GHIJ

Our Dance Glossary continues with GHIJ…

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.


Gallop: a 3 part movement performed by the feet and legs.  Sideways – step to the side, bring the other foot in towards the first foot and switch them over with a little hop (so the weight of the body is transferred from the first foot onto the second foot), then step out to the side again with the original foot.  Forwards – complete the gallop but stepping forwards.

Gesture: action predominantly using the arms and hands – usually representing realistic movements.  For example: pointing, ‘stopping’ motions with the palms, searching actions with the hands on the forehead.

Giving Weight: transferring the weight of your own body onto someone else’s, either to create a counter balance with a partner or create contact improvisation in a group.  Important skill to have to create trust and effective team work.

Grapevine: a foot and leg and foot action.  Step out one foot to the side, then cross the second foot to the same side as the first, but crossing behind it.  Step the first foot out to the side again, then bring the second foot in to stand beside the first foot.

Groove: a flowing motion that can be down with different parts of the body, but often with the head from one side to the other.


Heavy work: actions that focus on moving on the floor on hands, feet and other parts of the body.  Brilliant at developing core strength.  For example, scuttling like a spider, crawling down a path way, moving in crab pose.

Hop: an action where the dancer stands on one foot, lifts up off the floor and then lands on the same foot.  In Ballet this is referred to as a temps leve.


Improvisation: spontaneous movement, usually inspired by a starting point such as a piece or music, image, prop or word.  The first stage in the choreographic process and a very important one.  Improvising LOTS of ideas encourages dancers to try out many ideas and results in a variety of responses.  Often our first ideas are obvious and not the best ones – improvisation facilities creativity and thinking ‘outside the box’.

Isolation: moving an isolated part of the body – often used in Jazz Dance (the choreographer Bob Fosse heavily featured isolations in his dances).  Isolations were also a common feature in Michael Jackson’s choreography.


Jete: a leap from one foot to the other.  Used in Ballet class – its usually performed with both legs stretched out long whilst in mid-air.

Jump: an action where both feet lift off the floor at the same time and then both feet land on the floor at the same time. In Ballet this is often referred to as a ‘saute’.  Examples include…

  • Tuck jump – both knees tuck into the body whilst the dancer is in the air
  • Pike jump – both legs are extended out in front of the body and hands touch the toes
  • Straddle jump – both legs are extended out to the sides in a split position

Coming next week on the glossary…KLMNO and P!

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