Constituent Features

Understanding Constituent Features

  • Constituent features in dance refers to the essential elements that compose a choreography.
  • These include, but aren’t limited to, the dance content (movement material, dynamics, rhythm, spatial elements), dancers (characteristics, roles, relationships), music or sound score, design and production aspects (set, costume, lighting, props), and structure of a dance piece.

Dance Content

  • This encapsulates elements such as specific movement ideas, motifs, sequences, and the arrangement of these into sections or phrases.
  • Important elements like the use of space, the dancer’s dynamics, timing, and rhythm form part of the dance content.
  • Any gestures, actions, or non-verbal communication intended by the choreographer also falls into this category.


  • The characteristics of dancers such as their physical abilities, personality, appearance, or performance quality are important constituent features.
  • The roles of dancers, which might include leading, supporting, or group roles, and the relationships established among them, form another layer to this.
  • The interaction of dancers on stage, their communication, and the way they express the choreographer’s intentions are crucial elements.

Music or Sound Score

  • The choice of music or sound score, its tone, rhythm, texture, or mood, greatly influences the overall feel of a dance.
  • The relationship between the dance and its music/sound score – how the choreography mirrors, contrasts or ignores elements of the score – is another critical constituent feature.
  • The use of silence and ambient sound also plays a significant role in choreography and interpretation.

Design and Production Aspects

  • Elements like set design, including props, can give spatial context, set the mood, and heighten dramatic impact.
  • Costumes contribute to the visual aesthetic, while aiding in the portrayal of characters, narratives, themes, or moods.
  • Lighting can direct attention, establish atmosphere, and underscores the narrative or thematic elements of the dance.

Structure and Choreographic Form

  • The overall structure of a dance piece, including its layout of sections and their organisation, can significantly influence the reader’s interrogation of a dance.
  • Forms of choreography can include binary, ternary, ritornello, theme and variation, rondo and narrative forms, among others.
  • The choreographer’s choice of form and structure often reflects their intention and informs the viewer’s understanding or interpretation of the dance.

Role of Constituent Features in Critical Engagement

  • A comprehensive understanding of constituent features can significantly improve the analysis and interpretation of dance.
  • Each of these features carries intentional choices made by the choreographer, which can lead to a deeper understanding of the dance’s purpose, context, and meaning.
  • Comparing and contrasting constituent features across different dance works can highlight diverse approaches to choreography, facilitating a broader cultural and historical context for dance appreciation.