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The role of vocabulary in contemporary dance

Contemporary dance knowledge is mostly transmitted physically. Because it is continually evolving, we cannot predict the next phase or stylistic direction. So how can we prepare and train future dancers? If dancers become articulate in their ability to observe and analyze movement, their ability to translate movement of a choreographer or teacher will improve. However, to be able to observe and analyze movement, the dancer needs a verbal vocabulary to discuss, question, understand, reflect and embody movement. This research aims to develop a verbal vocabulary that can be incorporated into a dancer’s physical training programme. This vocabulary will be both written and physically embodied in order to have a benefit to a dancer’s education and future artistic practice.

The framework of the project is Rudolf Laban’s theoretical base of BODY, EFFORT, SHAPE and SPACE (Hackney, 1998, p. 217). Its logical structure is comprehensive, but it will be manipulated in order to reach a goal of transmission of information between dancers, choreographers, teachers and artists.