BASIC DANCE ANATOMY

Dance anatomy is essentially the one of the musculoskeletal system, because this one is responsible for providing the human body with movement, hence the possibility of dancing.


It is widely recognized among our artistic community that having a good knowledge of dance anatomy is of great help for dancers, both for preventing injuries and for improving technical skills.

Therefore, this page provides some first, basic information about the muscular and skeletal systems, but this content will be expanded progressively in time.

I’m aware of the fact that dance anatomy is a large subject. Still, I believe beginners can find some starting tools here.

Organ Systems.

The muscular and skeletal systems are two of the 10 major organ systems in the human body. Organ systems are composed of two or more different organs which work together to provide a common function. In our case, the function is movement.

When thinking in anatomical terms, we divide the organism and understand its functions in separated ways. Therefore we usually believe that movement is provided only by muscles and bones. Though, it is important to keep in mind that the human body is an organism, hence a whole unity (it is actually a human being and not just some flesh and blood).

So, the functioning of the musculoskeletal system might also be determined by other facts occurring to the person, whether they happen in another anatomical system of the body or whether they have an emotional or mental provenance.

The 10 major organ systems are:

Skeletal System, Muscular System, Circulatory System, Nervous System, Respiratory System, Digestive System, Excretory System, Endocrine System, Reproductive System, Lymphatic/Immune System.


Skeletal system.

It is made up of bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. It accomplishes three major functions: providing support for the body, protecting delicate internal organs and providing attachment sites for the muscles or organs.

Bones are made up of different types of tissue: - Compact tissue (the harder, outer tissue of bones).- Cancellous tissue (the sponge-like tissue inside bones).- Subchondral tissue (the smooth tissue at the ends of bones, which is covered with another type of tissue called cartilage).


Axial Skeleton

Dance anatomy: Axial skeleton






1. Atlas (C1)

2. Axis

3. Seventh cervical vertebrae (C7)

4. First thoracic vertebrae (Th1)

5. Twelfth thoracic vertebrae (Th12)

6. Fifth lumbar vertebrae (L5)

7. Cervical curve

8. Thoracic curve

9. Lumbar curve



















Complete skeleton

Dance anatomy: Complete skeleton



1. Frontal bone

2. Orbit of the eye

3. Cervical vertebrae

4. Upper maxillary

5. Lower maxillary

6. Clavicle

7. Scapula

8. Thoracic vertebrae

9. Humerus

10. Lumbar vertebrae

11. Ulna

12. Radius

13. Carpal

14. Metacarpal

15. Phalanges

16. Patella

17. Tibia

18. Fibula

19. Tarsus

20. Metatarsus

21. Sternum

22. True rib

23. Costal cartilage

24. False rib

25. Ilium

26. Sacrum

27. Coccyx

28. Ischium

29. Femur


Muscular system:

It is made up of skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscles throughout the body. Its main role is to provide mobility (movement of the limbs or movement of materials through some organs like the stomach, intestine, heart and circulatory system).

The most important attribute of muscles is that they are made up of contractile fibers. They change their size to produce movement and both their possibility to contract and to expand is what creates their efficiency.


Anterior view of muscles

Dance anatomy: Anterior view of muscles

1. Frontalis

2. Orbicularis oculi

3. Trapezium

4. Brachioradialis

5. Forearm flexor

6. Brachial

7. Deltoid

8. Serratus anterior

9. Biceps brachii

10. Adductor

11. Rectus femoris

12. Sartorius

13. Tibialis anterior

14. Gracilis

15. Gastrocnemius

16. Pectoralis major

17. Rectus abdominis

18. Linea alba

19. External oblique

20. Tensor fasciae latae

21. Iliopsoas

22. Pectineus

23. Vastus lateralis


Posterior view of muscles

Dance anatomy: Posterior view of muscles



1. Flexor digitorum

2. Triceps brachii

3. Extensor digitorum

4. Temporalis

5. Teres minor

6. Teres major

7. Infraspinatus

8. Rhomboid major

9. Latissimus dorsi

10. Gluteal

11. Adductor magnus

12. Sternocleidomastoid

13. Trapezium

14. Deltoid

15. Biceps femoris

16. Semitendinosus

17. Gastrocnemius

18. Soleus

19. Peroneus brevis



This page about dance anatomy will be expanded progressively in time. If there is some specific information you need and did not find here, feel free to use our page for dance questions.

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