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Dance Glossary…K to P

Our Dance Glossary continues with KLMNO and P!

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.


Kick: an action with the leg – striking outwards in a powerful motion.  Can be in any direction – forwards, backwards, sideways, crossing the body. Can be performed in conjunction with a turn, jump, step as well as arm gestures.


Leap: lifting off the floor from one leg and landing on the floor on the other leg.

Levels (Space): the height of any movement – it could be low, medium or high.  A change of levels in your choreography helps to develop your ideas and provides variety to the movements.

Lifts: when one or more dancers lifts another person off the floor in some way.  There are endless variations of lifts!  Some of the ones we use at JumpStart include:

  • Star lift – one person jumps up in a star shape – their partner supports underneath the shoulders to lift them up higher
  • Pencil lift – similar to a star lift, but the person jumping keeps their body straight and tall like a pencil.
  • Handshake lift – person 1 sits down, knees bent and pointing to the ceiling.  Person 2 holds person 1s hand (as in a handshake) and pulls their partner up. Person 1 jumps up at the same time that they are being pulled up.

Locking: a style of funk used in Street Dancing.  Movements are momentarily frozen into a particular position, usually with the arms and hands.


Movement Objectives:the aim of your dance class – what you are intending the children to achieve from a movement perspective.  We classify movement objectives into 4 categories:

  • What: the action the body is doing, with which parts of the body and in what shape/s
  • Where: how the dancers are using the space – levels, directions, facings, pathways
  • How: the relationship to music and time, the dynamics of the movement
  • Who: the relationships between the dancers: duets, solos, canon, unison and so on…

At JumpStart, we identify 2-3 movement objectives at the start of each plan, then focus and develop on them throughout the session.

Mudras: Indian Classical Dance hand gestures.  Each position signifies a person / object.  For example, lotus flower is where the hands are in a bowl shape together, with the fingers opening outwards like a flower.






Parallel position: position of the feet, usually in Contemporary Dance.  The legs are hip distance apart and feet parallel to each other (as opposed to turned out like in Ballet).

Pathway (Space): the patterns and pathways that the dancers travel on along the floor.  Children have a tendency to move around the space in a big circular motion – we want them to be able to navigate through the space with variety and imagination.  Activities to develop this ability include…

  • Weaving around obstacles, such as cones, props or people
  • Creating movement maps where they follow lines and squiggles along the floor

Phrase: a short sequence of actions.  We liken this to a sentence – a phrase usually starts with a still shape (capital letter), a short sequence of movements (the words) and a still shape at the end (full stop).  A phrase can be taught by the teacher, or created by the dancers.  Once a phrase has been devised, it can be developed by using one or more of the choreographic devices (see glossary…ABC)

Pirouette: an upright spin in the transverse plan.  Usually referred to in Ballet.

Planes: the way that a movement or turn travels.  It could be…

  • Frontal plane: divides the body in half between the front side and the back side.  Turns in the frontal plane occur sideways and include cartwheels.
  • Transverse / horizontal plan: divides the body in half between the top and lower half.  Turns in the transverse plane are rotational and include pirouettes.
  • Sagittal plan: divides the body in half between the right and left sides.  Turns in the sagittal plane occur forwards and backwards and include forward rolls.

Plie: a bending of the knees – usually in Ballet and Contemporary styles of dance.  Plies can be demi (a half bend leaving the heels on the floor) or grand plie (a full bend lifting the heels off the floor)

Power moves: usually referred to in Hip Hop breaking.  Gymnastic fast actions occurring on the floor including: head and back spins, handstands, floats, swipes, windmills and flares.

Next time on the dance glossary…QRS!

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