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Dance Anatomy & Kinesiology English Glossary


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abduction: Moving away from the midline of the body.


Achilles tendinitis: Inflammation of the Achilles tendon or its covering.


acute injury: Occurs suddenly during the performance of a physical activity or an injury so severe it prevents performance of a particular movement.


adduction: Moving toward the midline of the body.


aerobic fitness: Associated with moderate, long-term levels of activity.


agility: Ability to shift from one movement or position to another quickly and efficiently.


agonist : Contracting muscle. Paired with the antagonist.


alignment: Good dance posture that constantly integrates the dancer’s body as a whole—head, torso, arms, and legs—while moving through space or holding a pose, which makes alignment both a static and a dynamic movement principle.


anaerobic fitness: Associated with high-intensity, maximal, short bursts of activity.


anatomical position: Position of the body standing with feet facing forward, hands at sides, and palms forward with thumbs outward.


anatomy: Study of the physical structures of the body.


ankle sprain: An injury to the ligaments surrounding the ankle.


antagonist: Relaxing muscle. Paired with the agonist.


anterior: Front of the body or front of a part of the body.


appendicular skeleton: Bones of the limbs.


axial movement: Action organized primarily around the axis of the spine and in relatively stationary space.


axial skeleton: Includes the skull, vertebral column, sternum, and ribs.


ball-and-socket joint: Consists of a bone with a rounded end meeting up with a cup-shaped bone, allowing a circular range of motion.


body composition: Muscle, fat, bone, and other tissues that make up the total weight of a person.


bowlegs: When a space exists between the knees when standing with the insides of the feet together.


cardiorespiratory endurance: Measure of stamina and efficiency of the heart and lungs.


cartilaginous joints: Joints that are held together by cartilage (e.g., the intervertebral discs of the spinal column).


center line: Vertical line down the front of the body that divides it into two halves.


cervical spine: The top seven vertebrae.



chronic injury: Injury that is constant or recurring in the same part of the body over an extended time.


circumduction: Movement that travels in a complete circle.


ccompression (for injuries): Application of an elastic compression bandage to the injured area.


concentric contraction: A shortening of the muscle to create movement.


concentric muscle action: Muscle shortens as it exerts force.


conditioning: A sequence of movements, usually done on the floor, that develop muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility.


connectivity: The pattern of relationship between body parts.


coordination: Integration of the nervous and muscular systems to perform harmonious body movements.


core-distal connectivity: The relationship between the muscles of the torso as they support and provide stability for the limbs in space.


cross lateral connectivity: The relationship between diagonally opposing parts of the body.


dimensional planes: Three planes of space that intersect at the center of personal space, or kinesphere: horizontal (table) plane, vertical (door) plane, and sagittal (forward-and-back or wheel) plane.


dynamic anatomy: Study of the structure of the body and how it moves. Combines elements of the fields of anatomy and kinesiology.


dynamic contraction: The length of muscle changes.


eccentric contraction: A lengthening of the muscle to create movement.


elasticity: The ability of a muscle or tendon to return to its original state after being stretched.


elevation (for injuries):  Raising of the body part above the heart.


endurance: The ability to produce continuous movement through muscular and cardiovascular.


excitability: The ability of a muscle to receive a message, or stimulus, from the brain and respond to it.


extension: Increasing the angle of a joint.


extensibility: The ability of a muscle to release and return to its relaxed state.


fibrous joints:  Joints that are tightly held together so that little to no true movement exists in them.


FITT principle:  Acronym for frequency, intensity, time, and type of activity performed.


flexibility: Ability of the joint to move freely through the full range of motion.


flexion: Decreasing the angle of a joint.


forward pelvic tilt: The top of the pelvis moves forward of the centerline of the body while the bottom of the pelvis moves behind the centerline of the body.


gliding joint: Consists of two bones meeting up with mostly flat surfaces.


gross body: The part of a person’s being made of physical muscles and bones.


head-tail connectivity: The relationship between the crown of the head and the tip of the tailbone.


health-related fitness: Muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition.


hinge joint: Consists of a bone with a slight concave end meeting up with a bone with a slight convex end, allowing primarily for extension and flexion./p>


horizontal plane: Also known as the table plane. (Think of wiping off the crumbs on a table.) This plane involves side-to-side (horizontal dimension) and some forward-and-back movements.


hyperextension: Extending past natural position, such as bending backward.


hyperlordosis: An exaggeration of a secondary curve of the spine.


ice (for injuries): Application of ice to the injured area.


isometric muscle action: Muscle neither shortens nor lengthens as force is exerted.


joint: The place where two or more bones interact.


jumper’s knee: An injury to tendons around the knee characterized by an aching feeling.


kinesiology: Study of the body in motion.


kinesphere: Space around each person that extends as far as you can reach in every direction.


kinesthetic sense (proprioception): Ability to put together sensory input and past experience to guide your body in movement.


knock-knees: When standing with the feet in parallel first position, the insides of the knees bow inward so that they touch. Scientific name is genu valgum.


labile: Being off balance; a lack of equilibrium.


lateral: Part of the body farthest from the midline of the body.


ligament: Tissue that attaches bones to other bones.


lumbar spine: The five vertebrae below the thoracic vertebrae; the most flexible section of the spine.


lumbosacral strain: An injury to the small extensor muscles or ligaments of the spine.


mechanical low back pain: A condition involving localized lower back pain.


medial: Part of the body closest to the midline.


metabolism: The speed at which the body is able to convert food into energy.


muscular endurance: Length of time that you can call on a particular muscle or muscle group to perform.


muscular strength: Capacity of muscles to perform.


overload principle: The body needs greater than normal stress, or load, to become stronger. After a period of time the body adapts to this stress, and greater stress will need to be added for further gains.


plane: An imaginary flat surface that passes through the body.


posterior: Back of the body or back of a part of the body.


power: Ability to produce maximum force in a short period of time.


PRICED: Protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation, and diagnosis; aids in recovery from minor injuries.


primary curves: Spinal curves that are concave, hollowing out toward the front of the body.


pronation: The ankles rolling in toward the centerline of the body.


prone: Lying facedown.


proprioception: Ability of the body to sense the position, location, orientation, and movement of its parts.


protection (for injuries): Removing additional danger or risk from the injured area.


rotation: Turning the anterior surface of the muscle either inward or outward.


sagittal plane: Also known as the wheel plane. (Think of the way a wheel rolls down the street.) Composed of forward-and-back (sagittal dimension) and some side-to-side movements.


secondary curves: Spinal curves that are convex, bulging out toward the front of the body.


shin splints: A condition in which the dancer feels tenderness and discomfort on the front of the shin, especially when jumping.


sinking hip: Moving the pelvis off center and shifting body weight more toward one side.


skill-related fitness: Coordination, agility, balance, power, reaction time, and speed.


speed: Ability to propel the body from one place to another.


sprain: Injury by tearing of a ligament or other joint tissue.


strain: Injury by overstretching and tearing of a muscle or tendon fiber.


strength: The ability for the muscle to produce maximal force on one occasion.


subtle body: The part of a person’s being that senses inner energy fluctuations and neuromuscular connectivity.


supination: The ankles rolling out from the centerline of the body.


supine: Lying faceup.


synovial joints: Allow for the most freedom of movement and are the most common joints.


tendon: Tissue that attaches muscles to the bones.


thoracic spine: The next 12 vertebrae below the cervical spine.


upper-lower connectivity: The relationship between the lower body (hips and legs) and the upper body (torso and arms).


vertical plane: Also known as the door plane. (Think of standing in a doorway and reaching your arms and legs to each of the corners.) This plane is composed of up-and-down (vertical dimension) and some side-to-side movements.