Choreographic Exercise

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International Choreographic Exrecise Dictionary
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Once it has been question of creating, in the context of Ice Theatre competitions, a heat including compulsory technical elements, a reflection was led about the choice of these elements . It then appeared that choreographic language was the language shared by all trainings, from ice dancersí to artistic skatersí.


This statement motivated the decision of imposing for this heat a choreographic exercise where utilizing technical elements determined at start of season would be compulsory .

Thus should be retained each year for this exercise :

  • a theme
  • a choreographic device
  • a body movement topic

This may require a reminder of choreographic language's ABC.


This document aims to allowing everyone to get ready for this new heat in the best conditions possible. It successively addresses notions of theme, choreographic approaches, body movement and eventually application of these fondamentals to choreographic exercise.



Dictionary definition: the art of composing ballets .


This composition practice implies knowledge of choreographic technique and use of a number of apparatus specific to dancing art.


Content wise, producing a ballet requires choosing a theme. Then formally, it implies using choreographic devices and developing body movement techniques .



The theme is in a way the balletís motivation. It may be narrative or at the contrary abstract . A narrative theme aims to tell a story. First degree must however be avoided: one must thus keep a perspective to avoidgetting trapped in heaviness and anecdote. In the same way, when resuming known themes, one must obviously avoid to be content with reproducing on ice a choreography conceived for classical ballet. .


An abstract theme rather aims to evoke symbols and adhere to symbolism; one must lead the viewer to feeling emotions from elements that often are simple suggestions . One must give shape to their imagination , convert mental images into movements and respond to words spontaneously and physically .



On one hand the theme relates to balletís motivation, on the other hand choreographic devices are technical tools enabling balletís composition and course form wise; they make it possible to organize motions and body moves of dancers within the framework of group labour.

Indeed hand choreographic devices allow an infinite variation of enchaÓnements and relations within a group of dancers and between the diverse groups . One can thus have recourse, for instance, to contrast, counterpoint, repetition, imitation, round...

contrasting means creating oppositions for emphasis; oppositions may be of various kinds: gestural, rhythmic, directional etc. The goal is always enhancement of certain elements of choreography .

contrast: contrasting means creating oppositions for emphasis; oppositions may be of various kinds: gestural, rhythmic, directional etc. The goal is always enhancement of certain elements of choreography .


counterpoint: consists in composing on the same tempo various enchainements: moving together differently but on a same musical or acoustic phase .


repetition: it is when a dancer resumes several times the same choreographic pattern; this repetition might be immediate or spread out with patterns return in the course of the ballet .


round: it is when different dancers repeat the same pattern by performing it one after the other with a regular succession pace .


cascade: effect produced from one movement performed successively by several skaters in a staggered way.


imitation: it is when different dancers perform simultaneously the same choreographic pattern .


mirror: symetrical imitation.


chorus: group movement performed by the whole team at the same time .


magnification or attenuation: variants of repetition : they consist in repeating several times a choreographic pattern and amplifying/reducing bit by bit one or several of its characteristics. .


transposition: it means shifting from a movement achieved in the upper space (standing up) to a movement in the lower space ( from a move led by the elbow to a move led by the knee), or a jerky movement to a slow and continuous movement.


accumulation: to a first move is added up a second one, then a third one ...


autoreverse: period repeated backwards (a period corresponds to a mini enchainement)


It goes without saying that these choreographic patterns are not exclusive to each other and that they are usually all used in the course of a ballet, with most superposition of many of them in the same time.



Through dancing gestures gain an artistic meaning; they are more elaborate and significant than every day gestures and produce a mode of expression in itself.

Each gesture of a dancer could be characterized by its shape, its density and its nature; of course each of these characteristics takes part to the expression of the gesture.

The shape of a gesture corresponds to its visual aspect; one can thus distinguish, for example, round gestures, straight gestures, shattered gestures, symmetric or asymmetric gestures. The whole body participates to the visual aspect of a body language. .


Density is linked to the amount of energy put in the gesture. Gestures may thus appear more or less strong or at the contrary more or less light. Utilisating body weight is an essential element of the danced movement.


nature of a gesture corresponds to its quality. Gestures may be for instance, according to this criterion, swift, slow, joined, minimized, etc.. and each of them gives a specific meaning to the dance .

These axis of body language topics give to choreographic expression various directions and they might be utilized in the framework of choreographic exercises. In addition, there is a need to play with movement components (body, space, time, energy, relationship mode) in order to build through stylisation detachment from realness .

The goal to reach is going from a ballet where viewerís attention get lost due to parasite gestures and imprecision of actions to a ballet where viewer keeps their attention thanks to each skater assumes their presence in the movement as well as in the clarity of their actions .

This supposes :

regulating muscular tonus for suppressing useless tensions, by getting rid of parasite gestures ( talking, laughing, putting up hair, pull on tee-shirt...)


precising itineraries, engaged spaces and mobilised energies .


listening for better coordination of actions between skaters.



it now becomes clear how may be suggested, from these 3 choreographic fundamentals (theme, choreographic devices and body language topics), a choreographic exercise that will enable to compare teams on the basis of a common technical language .

Each unit will have to realize its choreographic exercise with the obligation of using in its course the body language topic and the choreographic device established for the season and of skating on the theme selected.


As long as these compulsory elements are used, it is of course possible to integrate other body languages AND other devices in the construction of the exercise , and the choreographer keeps all latitude for personalizing this exercise according to skatersí qualities.

The theme could therefore be treated in accordance with the view chosen by each choreographer. Within this autonomy for treating the theme, contrasting effects and round gestures will have to appear in the course of the exercise .

New choreographic perspectives

Theatre on Ice :

Its location is the Ice, where sliding, thanks to its speed and lightness potential, modifies use of space.

Its technique is Skating, with all the possibilities offered by Ice Dancing and Artistic Skating. .

Its language is Choreography, with not only individual movement work, reflection on les links between theme and movement, exploration of an acoustic universe, but also group work in the framework of ballet composition, with utilization of choreographic devices.

Which discipline offers better creating possibilities than Theatre on Ice ?

Ice specificities, such as sliding and modulation of motion speeds, transform choreographic art possibilities. At ground, choreography creates ad infinitum. Likewise, Ice lets choreographers invent, thanks to sliding, effects inaccessible to ground.

A good skating technique, essential for theatre skaters, serves a collective creation of which artistic ambition is emotional. Associated with choreographic writing, it enables to overcome the only perspective of virtuosity and to use skating in all its dimensions.

Applying choreographic rules to groups of skaters enables indeed to envisage the development of a choreographic art on ice and to head towards directions so far rarely explored in skating.

Theatre on Ice is probably still at its first steps compared Ballets at ground, but ice specific components _ to be sought out and valorised_ enable further progress. Creating a heat of choreographic exercise has indeed led Theatre on Ice in that direction.

Theatre on Ice wishes to valorise most of sliding possibilities, with constant concern for integrating choreographic culture. We want to develop it as group skating centered on research and aesthetic.

Suggested approach for constructing the Choreographic Exercise

  1. To analyze the semantic fields of each of the three compulsory elements
  2. To identify possibilities of bonds between semantic fields of each of these three compulsory elements .
  3. To choose a coherent and balanced mode of treatment between the three compulsory elements.
  4. To deduce the choreographic bias from the Exercise