[kawr-ee-og-ruh-fee, kohr-]

Art of creating and arranging dances. The word is derived from the Greek for “dance” and “write,” reflecting its early meaning as a written record of dances. By the 19th century the term was used mainly for the creation of dances, and the written record became known as dance notation. In the 16th century dance masters at the French court arranged their social dances into specific patterns. In the 17th century such dances became more complex and were performed as theatrical ballets by trained professionals. In the late 18th century Jean-Georges Noverre and Gasparo Angiolini introduced choreography that combined expressive mime and dance steps to produce the dramatic ballet. This was further developed in 19th-century Romantic ballets by Marius Petipa, Jules Perrot, and August Bournonville. Radical change in the 20th century began with choreographers of the Ballets Russes, including Michel Fokine and Léonide Massine, and continued with George Balanchine, Martha Graham, Frederick Ashton, Jerome Robbins, Merce Cunningham, and Twyla Tharp. Seealso Alvin Ailey; Agnes de Mille; Serge Lifar; Bronislava Nijinska; Salvatore Viganò.

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Choreography (literally "dance-writing" from the Greek words "χορεία" (circular dance, see chorea) and "γραφή" (writing), also known as "dance composition"), is the art of making structures in which movement occurs. The term composition may also refer to the navigation or connection of these movement structures. The resulting movement structure may also be referred to as the choreography. People who create choreographies are called choreographers.


The term choreography first appeared in the American English dictionary in the 1950s. Prior to this, movie credits normally stated "Ensembles Staged by", "Dances", "Dance Director", "Dances Staged by", "Musical Numbers Directed by", or "Musical Numbers Staged and Directed by. Choreographers often improvise to find what works best musically.


Although used mainly for dance, choreography is also used in:

And many other activities involving human movement.

Language and notation

Choreographic techniques

One choreographic technique is improvisation.


See also


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

External links

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