Analyzing Dances Using Anatomical Descriptions

Communicating fluently in anatomical terms while describing a dancer/dance is an important skill to master as a dance educator. And it is one of several ways to analyze a dance (deconstruction, formal analysis, choreographic tools, Laban, etc. are other methods to analyze a dance). This type of description is not only a helpful tool for clarifying the lineage of a movement, but it also helps to train the eye for spotting proper alignment of the moving body. 
















A dance collaboration with Jihyun Kim. 



Jihyun: flexion at the neck, and slowly allowing her R knee to bend or flex, her ankle stretches into plantar flexion, and she externally rotates her R leg from the hip joint, then inwardly rotates, alternating in and out in and out (from a medial position of the body to a more lateral look), and she simultaneously abducts her R leg until she adducts it back into her center in parallel position with a strong support of the floor. She repeats this set of movement, only during this repetition, she abducts her R leg further away from her center, and now her R knee is in a more flexed angle, as her L hip goes into a slight extension to the back. Her atlantoaxial (first 2 cervical vertebrae) is nicely in an elongated extension, and rotated to her R side. She then extends her R leg with a distally initiated plantar flexed foot, in this motion, her body is in a ipsilateral position (2 limbs on the same side). She repeats 3 more times of the same motion, and her third repetition, her R hip, knee and elbow are all in flexion and externally rotated in a lateral position (farther away from the 

body). But interestingly, her L hip is slightly extended, so that the body is now counterbalanced beautifully in space. Her wrists are also in an interestingly designed slight flexion. She moves on a transverse plane in her chine turns to the back diagonal, on a detailed examination, the feet are slightly alternating between inversion and eversion (rolling in). As Ji lands her turns, her radioulnar / elbows transitioned from a symmetrical flexion, into a more medial extension. Now she curves over her head slightly, as she flexes her L knee and plantar flexes her L ankle.



Mimi: flexion at the R wrist, then elbow, then shoulder slightly adducts towards the midline, making this movement more medial in relation to the body. Now, her shoulder is transitioning into a more extended position, as the elbow externally rotates to the R as the wrist also joins in with the rotators. The neck is now also slightly extended and rotated. The right elbow extends fully, and now, the R hand is at its superior position of the body. A clear illustration of an adduction of the R arm happens here, while the trunk, neck, and head is bending with its adding momentum. Her upper body becomes more proximal and contracted. Then, she abducts her R arm and everything else that followed away from her trunk/center, and she flexes her shoulder, and swings to the back as she simultaneously extending the shoulder and flexing the L knee, and her spine and hip goes into flexion.

She does a fast recovery, consists of plantar flexion of the R foot, extension of the R knee, flexion of the R hip, extension of the R elbow, and flexion of the R shoulder! Her supporting leg is grounded to the floor, so that she can hold this position en l'air. This is a very good Saggital plane example. She cuts through her space, and flexes her R knee and extends her R elbow as she turns to face a new direction, with her L leg in extension. This moment is an example of a contralateral movement, where 2 limbs are in the opposite sides of the body, in extension. She adducts her R arm. She abducts her R leg and arm, but adducts her L leg and arm as she piques onto a demi pointe releve, while plantar flexes her R leg in an extension at the knee. This next movement is very laterally expressed because both of there arms and her R leg are away from her center all in extension. She flexes her R hip in a front attitude, also adducting her R arm, catching her R leg with her hand in a palmer postal (or back of the hand) contact. She slightly extends her L should superiorly, and flexes her spine and knees, and extends her knees and arms in order to take off or the jump. She lands with a flexion at the knees, and the spine, and oops, a slight pronation at he R knee is happening! She claps coronally. Then, flexes her wrists, as her head is extending to her left. She finishes with a flexion at her R elbow/adducting her arms towards her trunk, or making her R arm more proximal to the body. 



Anatomical Terms and Planes:





Plantar Flexion




Rotation (Internal and External)





Plumb line

Superior (head)

Inferior (feet)

Medial (close)

Lateral (far)

Distal (farther from trunk)

Proximal (closer to trunk)

Ipsilateral (2 limbs on same side)

Contralateral (2 limbs on opposite side)





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