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Dance Relationships

What are dance relationships? 

You can make choices about relationships when you organize a group of dancers in time and space. Varying the relationships throughout a dance adds interest and variety and can help clarify a dance idea or meaning. 


It is where all dancers perform the same movement at the same time. Overusing unison weakens a dance, but it can be used effectively to create a highlight or climax. 

Mirror Image

This is similar to unison, but in this case, one or more dancers use the other side of the body or travel in the opposite direction to create a mirror-type effect. This device can be used to achieve symmetry, making it more interesting if the dancers move across each other's space.


This is like following the leader, where one dancer begins a series of movements, and other dancers do the same action but add their quality and interpretation to it. It can add a sense of power as each dancer joints in turn. Accumulation can also be used in reverse to 'drop off' dancers until only one is left.


This is where dancers touch, lean on, or support each other. Most choreographers use contact in some form, which is part of the vocabulary in most contemporary dance styles. Contact is an effective device for exploring and expressing emotional content and relationships between dancers, but it can also be used abstractly with no specific meaning attached. 

Foreground/ Background

This device is where one or more dancers perform the primary material, with the other dancers behaving like backing singers performing in the background with more straightforward material or repeated actions. 


It is where one or more dancers move after each other. Simple canon is where a dancer dances an entire motif, which another dancer and so on then follow. This can be made to look more effective by having the dancers overlap rather than wait until one dancer completes a motif before the following dancers begin.


This is where dancers perform similar movements but different from each other. It is like an echo and can be easily achieved by changing levels or lines created by arms or legs. The complementary relationships could also be achieved by developing actions pleasing the eyes.


This is where dancers perform movements that have different dynamics or different shapes. You could also contrast action with stillness.

Question and Answer

This is where some of the group perform movements that are then contrasted or complemented by the rest. This idea of a movement conversation can also be used effectively in a duo. 


This is when dancers perform individual movement sequences at the same time. It can be used effectively to build a climax or the end of a dance.

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