Choreography is the art of designing sequences of movements in which motion, form, or both are specified. Choreography may also refer to the design itself, which is sometimes expressed by means of dance notation. The word choreography literally means “dance-writing” from the Greek words “Ï¡ÃŽ¿ÃÃŽµÃŽ¯ÃŽ±” (circular dance, seechorea) and “ÃŽ³ÃÃŽ±Ã ÃŽ®” (writing). A choreographer is one who creates choreographies.

The term choreography first appeared in the American English dictionary in the 1950s. Prior to this, movie credits used various terms to mean choreography, such as “ensembles staged by”and “dances staged by”.


Although used primarily in dance, choreography is also employed in various other activities that involve human movement, including:

  • Cheerleading
  • Cinematography
  • Gymnastics
  • Fashion shows
  • Ice skating
  • Marching bands
  • Show Choirs
  • Stage combat
  • Synchronized swimming


In dance, choreography is also known as dance composition. Dance compositions are created by applying one or both of these fundamental choreographic techniques:

  • Improvisation, in which a choreographer provides dancers with a score (i.e., generalized directives) that serves as guidelines for improvised movement and form. For example, a score might direct one dancer to withdraw from another dancer, who in turn is directed to avoid the withdrawal, or it might specify a sequence of movements that are to be executed in an improvised manner over the course of a musical phrase, as incontra dance choreography. Improvisational scores typically offer wide latitude for personal interpretation by the dancer.
  • Planned choreography, in which a choreographer dictates motion and form in detail, leaving little or no opportunity for the dancer to exercise personal interpretation.

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