In dance, choreography is the act of designing dance. Choreography may also refer to the design itself, which is sometimes expressed by means of dance notation. A choreographer is one who designs dances. Dance choreography is sometimes called dance composition.
Aspects of dance choreography include the compositional use of organic unity, rhythmic or non-rhythmic articulation, theme and variation, and repetition. The choreograhic process may employ improvisation for the purpose of developing innovative movement ideas. In general, choreography is used to design dances that are intended to be performed as concert dance.
The art of choreography involves the specification of human movement and form in terms of space, shape, time and energy, typically within an emotional or non-literal context. Movement language is taken from the dance techniques of ballet, contemporary dance, jazz dance, hip hop dance, folk dance, religious dance, pedestrian movement, or combinations of these.
Dances are designed by applying one or both of these fundamental choreographic methods:
- Improvisation, in which a choreographer provides dancers with a score (i.e., generalized directives) that serves as guidelines for improvised movement and form. For example, a score might direct one dancer to withdraw from another dancer, who in turn is directed to avoid the withdrawal, or it might specify a sequence of movements that are to be executed in an improvised manner over the course of a musical phrase, as in contra dance choreography. Improvisational scores typically offer wide latitude for personal interpretation by the dancer.
- Planned choreography, in which a choreographer dictates motion and form in detail, leaving little or no opportunity for the dancer to exercise personal interpretation.
Several underlying techniques are commonly used in choreography for two or more dancers:
- Mirroring - facing each other and doing the same
- Retrograde - performing a sequence of moves in reverse order
- Canon - people performing the same move one after the other
- Levels - people higher and lower in a dance
- Shadowing - standing one behind the other and performing the same moves
- Unison - two or more people doing a range of moves at the same time
Movements may be characterized by dynamics, such as fast, slow, hard, soft, long, and short.
 See also
- Ballet master
- Contact improvisation
- Dance improvisation
- List of choreographers
- Stage Directors and Choreographers Society
- Category:Ballet choreographers
 Further reading
- Blom, L, A. and Tarin Chaplin, L. (1989) The Intimate Act of Choreography. Dance Books. ISBN 0-8229-5342-0
- Ellfeldt, L. (1998) A Primer for Choreographers . Waveland Press. ISBN 0-88133-350-6
- Minton, S, C. (1997) Choreography: A Basic Approach Using Improvisation. Human Kinetics . ISBN 0-88011-529-7
- Tufnell, M. and Vaughan, D. (1999) Body Space Image : Notes Toward Improvisation and Performance. Princeton Book Co. ISBN 1-85273-041-2
- Smith-Autard, J, M. (2000) Dance Composition. Routledge. ISBN 0-87830-118-6
- "Glossary (dance)". UCI Wiki. Electronic Educational Environment (EEE). Retrieved 2012-02-19.