Setting the rhythmical structure of choreography

by Rohit

While setting the choreography, do we need to have a move for every beat or is it for every measure? And what is the last phrase of choreography...i.e...four, six, seven, eight?

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Mar 08, 2012
Answer from Maria
by: Maria

Dear Rohit,

The BEAT and the MEASURE are parts of the rhythmical structure of dance and music. They serve as a reference to organize your choreography in time and you should not confuse them with the LENGTH of your choreographic units (or moves). A movement can last several beats or even several measures and that is up to you. That depends on your composition.

If you want to deepen into the knowledge of the rhythmical elements of dance, you should study our explanation of the subject until you feel you understand it:

Basics that you need to understand about the rhythmical structure of dance

It seems to me that you already visited that page, because someone with your name left a comment at the end. I suggest you read it again, paying special attention to the part where I explain what the BEAT is.

In a general way, you can adjust the length of your moves into a rhythmical structure that you decide to use. The phrasing of your choreography will depend on that too.

... 5,6,7,8 is the abbreviation of a phrase that lasts eight beats and it would be the way to finish a choreography if you were using a structure in which phrases of eight beats fit.

But, phrasing can be organized freely in many different ways: in six beats, twelve beats, irregular amounts of beats (like in Indian classical music), etc.

So, the way of counting the last phrase of your choreography will depend on the rhythmical structure you compose.

If you haven't had musical education, this might be a bit confusing at the beginning but you will understand everything in time. Go and read our page about contemporary dance music again and just reply in this same thread if you still have doubts.

Warm regards,


Mar 10, 2012
I am still confused with the setting of steps
by: Rohit

I have understood the measure and phrase perfectly but I am still confused with the setting of steps...means if I am just presenting a short dance piece without any specific character(means I am not presenting anyone) how are we going to set the steps?

Mar 10, 2012
It goes as if you where composing music
by: Reply from Maria

Dear Rohit,

Actually, you organize the steps freely. If you are doing an abstract dance (i.e. without characters or story), you just invent the steps of your choice and organize them according to rhythm and dynamics.

It goes as if you where composing music. You create a step, decide the length and set it together with the rest of steps.

For example: one step forward that lasts three beats, then one step to the side that lasts one beat. By setting together your step forward and your step to the side, you can create a measure of four beats there...

Does this clarify...?

Mar 10, 2012
by: Rohit singh

thank you....your guidance is really helping me out...

Mar 12, 2012
...sorry but one more question
by: Rohit

yes....very much cleared....sorry but one more question. In dance, do we
collect beats in phrases or in measures?

Mar 12, 2012
Reply from Maria
by: Maria

Dear Rohit,

We assemble beats in measures and choreographic units in phrases.

It works exactly as in music: beats are gathered in measures and melodic or harmonic units create phrases over measures.

However, choreographic phrases can eventually have the same length of measures.

For example, if you have a measure of four beats, you can create phrases of four, of eight, of twelve beats, etc. In experimental dances (i.e. contemporary dance), it is also common to find irregular phrases or that are not coherent with a rhythmical structure...

Mar 14, 2012
by: rohit singh

thank you very much..

Mar 18, 2012
How can we take care of the transitions...between the steps..?
by: Rohit

one question more related to the setting of steps to the music can we take care of the transitions...between the steps..?

Mar 18, 2012
Reply from Maria
by: Maria

Dear Rohit,

Transitions are part of choreography so you should treat them just like if they were other moves or steps.

If you're creating a dance that is coherent with the rhythm and dynamics of the music, do with the transition moments like you did while creating the steps. Build specific moves that allow you to go from one part to another, like if you were weaving.

Pauses are also common in transition moments, but that depends on the music and structure of your choreography.

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