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Modern Dance English Glossary
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arch: Movement of the upper body in which the shoulders curve backward and the chest and sternum lift upward.
arclike: Arm or leg movement in which the limb moves as one piece, traveling a curved path in space.
arm swing: Movement in which the arm falls in response to gravity either from high to low or from side to side.
basic locomotor movements: Seven fundamental ways of traveling through space: walk, run, hop, jump, slide, gallop, and skip.
battement tendu: Extension of the foot to a full point while keeping the knee straight and the foot in contact with the floor.
body swing: Movement of the upper body either forward and back or side to side that responds to the momentum of gravity.
bound flow: Movement that is tight, constricted, or easily stopped.
chaîne turn: Turn on alternating feet that completes one revolution every two steps.
chassé: Traveling pattern of step–together–step, where the lead foot is met with the opposite foot, and then the lead foot is extended a second time. The first step is with a bent knee, followed by feet that meet in the air in the middle of this step.
contraction: Strong movement in the center of the body (torso) that binds the abdominal muscles and curves the spine.
countertension: Giving equal energy to two parts of the body that oppose one another, such as the arm and leg. You are using these two parts of the body, in effect, to work together by pulling apart from one another. Can also be two dancers giving each other equal dynamic energy.
dégagé: Like a tendu, but the foot disengages from the floor to point and the knee remains straight.
demi-plié: Bending of the legs with partial flexion of the knees.
développé: Similar to a battement, except that rather than keeping the knee straight throughout the movement, you unfold the leg from the knee.
en croix: Movement of the legs in the shape of a cross: front, side, back, side.
fifth position of the arms: Both arms are held overhead with a slight curve to the wrist and elbow. The middle finger of the hand is lined up with the hairline of the forehead or slightly back of that position.
fifth position, or turned-out fifth: Position of the feet and legs where the legs are rotated outward and one foot is placed so the heel of the forward foot is placed against the big toe of the opposite foot.
first position of the arms: Both arms down at the sides of the torso in a slight curve.
first position on the floor: A position in which the dancer is seated with both legs extended in front, and a straight back forming the body into a right angle.
first position, or turned-out first: Position of the feet and legs where the heels remain together and the toes and legs from the hip face outward as close to 180 degrees as possible.
flexed foot: Toes face upward, forming a right angle at the ankle.
flow: Quality of continuity in a movement. In Laban terms it can be free or bound.
forced arch: A position in which the dancer has lifted heels and is balancing on the ball of the foot similar to relevé, but with the knees bent.
fourth position of the arms: One arm is held at a 90-degree angle to the side of the torso, the second arm is held above the head. Both arms have a slight curve at the elbow and wrist.
fourth position on the floor: Seated position with the forward leg bent and parallel to the mirrors or front wall of the studio and the second leg at a right angle to it, with the forward foot touching the knee of the second or back leg. Can be done to both sides.
fourth position, or turned-out fourth: Position of the feet and legs where the legs are rotated outward and one foot is placed so the heel of the forward foot is one foot length distant from the big toe of the opposite foot.
free flow: Movement that is continuous and difficult to stop. The opposite of bound flow.
gallop: Traveling through space forward by alternating opening and closing the legs and feet. One of the seven basic locomotor skills.
grande plié: Bending of the legs with deep flexion of the knees.
grapevine: Pattern of walking sideways where the feet alternate crossing in front and behind.
hop: Jumping up and down on one foot. Weight does not transfer from one foot to another. One of the seven basic locomotor movements.
jump: Hopping up and down on both feet at the same time. One of the seven basic locomotor movements.
leap: Jumping as you transfer your weight from one foot to the other while travelling through space.
leg swing: Movement of the leg from high to low, from low to high, or from side to side, which responds to the momentum of gravity.
parallel: Using the legs with the toes facing forward and the knees lined up over the toes.
parallel first: Position of the feet where the toes face forward of the body, the weight is evenly distributed on both feet, and the feet are positioned under the hips.
parallel fourth: Position of the feet where the toes face forward of the body with one foot forward of the other so that the heel of the forward foot is slightly forward of the toes of the back foot. Can be repeated on both sides.
parallel second: Position of the feet where the toes face forward of the body and the legs are separated slightly wider than the hips.
plié: French term for bending the knees.
pointed foot: Toes extended forward, forming a straight line from the shin.
prance: Arm or leg movement in which the limb moves as one piece, traveling a curved path in space.
reaction time: How quickly the body responds to an impulse or stimulus.
release: Returning to a neutral position after a contraction or arch.
relevé (demi-pointe): Standing on the balls of your feet with your heels lifted off of the floor.
second position of the arms: Both arms held at a 90-degree angle to the torso, with a slight curve to the elbows, palm either forward or slightly tilted downward.
second position on the floor: Sitting upright on the floor with your legs open as wide as possible without inward rotation of the legs.
second position, or turned-out second: Position of the feet and legs in which the feet are set slightly wider than the hips with rotated, or turned-out, legs.
skip: Traveling through space by alternating a step and a hop. One of the seven basic locomotor movements.
slide: Traveling through space sideways by alternating opening and closing the legs and feet. One of the seven basic locomotor movements.
suspension: Ability to control the peak moment of balance.
tailor sit: Seated position with the soles of the feet facing and touching one another.
third position of the arms: One arm is held at a 90-degree angle to the side of the torso, the second arm is held in front of the chest with the middle finger lined up with the sternum. Both arms have a slight curve at the elbow and wrist.
third position, or turned-out third: Position of the feet and legs where the legs are rotated outward and one foot is placed so that the heel of that foot bisects the midline of the opposite foot.
three-step turn: Turn that alternates feet while turning. The first step takes you to face the back, the second step returns you to front, the third step finishes the turn by bending your knee so that you can repeat the turn to the alternate side.
tilt: Standing position where the shoulders remain over the hips, the arms are extended out from the body at shoulder height, and the entire body shifts to one leg without bending the torso.
triplet: Series of three steps, usually with the pattern of down–up–up. In the down step the knees are bent, and in an up step the knees are straight and the heel is raised.
turned-out position: Rotation of the legs up to 180 degrees. The feet and legs are rotated away from the center line of the body as far as the hips will permit.
turnout: Rotation of the legs and feet outward from the midline of the body.
twist: Movement of the torso in which the shoulders move in the opposite direction from the hips.
X: Based on the work of Irmgard Bartenieff. A position where the dancer is lying on the back with feet and arms extended to the four diagonals of a square room.