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possessing a quality of form that may obscure direct meaning to show things not as they are but as they might feel.


relating to the artistic manifestation of a tool or practice. We often apply the term to remind users that the Toolbox methods have multiple applications and that an artistic outcome often coexists with a communal, interpersonal, or civic outcome.


pursuits and activities aimed at a concrete artistic product and valued for their worth in producing such a product. Distinct from the term creativity which denotes the value of the act or process but not necessarily the product.


a specified task, usually one presented by a leader to a group of participants. An assignment can start with just an idea, and generate preliminary artistic material, or it can take that material and refine, reshape, or rework it.


a quality of a creature, place or thing, recognized by another as giving pleasure or positive stimulation to the senses, emotions, or intellect. i.e. beauty is big and beauty is in the perceptions of the beholder.


the composition and arrangement of dance, entailing various elements, including movement invention, sequencing and combining movements, overall structure, pacing and narrative. Choreography can spring from a single mind or it can be the result of multiple minds and bodies working together.


to work jointly with others in the development of ideas, creation of artistic material, or accomplishment of a task.


entailing tools, assignments, and structures for implementing collaborations.


a group of individuals linked by some common factor(s) or shared interest(s), such as living in the same neighborhood, being a similar age, working in related fields, or identifying with a particular cause. A community can happen where any group of people gather for a shared activity, where the activity itself provides the linking interest. Community is also used as a general term to designate the wider world as distinct from, or encompassed, by an artistic pursuit that might otherwise be self-contained or insular.

community engagement

the interaction of artists with members of a community, often in a location specific to that community. The term (distinct from “outreach”) implies mutual and reciprocal value, learning, and benefit being shared or exchanged between the artist(s) and the community.


the capacity to generate material, ideas, solutions; the free-form exercise of such capacity, valued as an end in itself regardless of the presence or merit of an artistic product. Distinct from artmaking, which denotes the intent to develop an artistic product.


too big an idea to be held in a short definition. See essay Dance Defined.


Dance is a birthright. With this in mind, the Toolbox defines anyone engaged in the act of dancing as a dancer, regardless of the degree of experience or technical accomplishment they have, how they identify themselves, where the dance is happening, or how structured/unstructured the dance experience. “Non-dancer” (as in “XYZ community project employs both dancers and non-dancers in its choreographic scheme”) is not an operative concept. At most, non-dancer is only a temporary state of being. Once you start dancing, you cease to be a non-dancer.


to prepare for public presentation by cutting, adjusting, and/or rearranging; to alter to make appropriate to a particular application or context.


a group invested in an artistic outcome where each member makes a distinct or harmonizing contribution to that outcome.


the person guiding a particular activity. The term suggests a less directive involvement than “leader” “teacher” or “choreographer,” with the idea that it is the activity or experience that is doing the shaping or teaching, rather than the person.

formal performance

a presentation for an audience, usually at an appointed time, in a setting specifically designed for performance and entailing such theatrical trappings as lights, costumes, etc.


a movement of the body or limbs that expresses or emphasizes an idea, sentiment, or attitude. Can serve as source material for dance or be one aspect of a dance as performed. It’s important to note that when gestures are incorporated into dance, they may assume meanings other that those of the original impulse or intent; hence referring to them as gestures may not do justice to their full range of possibility.


two or more people; a number of individuals assembled together or having some unifying relationship; those participating in a collaborative activity, workshop, or rehearsal or a subdivision of that larger group engaging in a particular activity


a picture created by the movement or formation of dancing bodies; the mental picture of something not actually present.


the act of creating extemporaneously, often within a structure; a particular creation made thus.


to create extemporaneously. In the context of the Toolbox, this is usually done with a structure, intent, or outcome in mind.

informal performance

a performance without the full trappings of a theatrical production, often presented in a non-theatrical setting. May be impromptu or interspersed with such other elements as lecture, discussion or additional exchange of information with the audience.


engaging members of at least two generations. With children this difference could be only a couple of years. It can be more a difference of attitude than of age.


the arbitrary, accidental, or calculated positioning of two ore more elements together, often resulting in meanings or possibilities not perceived prior to the paring.


a sense mediated by end organs located in muscles, tendons, and joints and stimulated by bodily movements and tensions; also: experience, insight, learning derived from this sense and thereby from the act of moving.


In a creative context, to subject an idea to variation and experimentation in order to find the solution to an aesthetic challenge.


the person who leads; teacher, guide, choreographer, facilitator.


a piece of instruction.


adhering to a factual understanding, primary meaning, or ordinary construction of elements; offering a concrete equivalent.


the significance of an action, event, object or artwork as intended by the originator or as perceived by the receiver.


an action, movement, image, or figure of speech that literally denotes one idea, used in place of another to suggest and analogy between them.


a procedure or process for achieving an outcome, often that which is applied in a particular discipline or art form.


a body, accumulation or structured system of methods and principles employed by a particular discipline.


the capacity for movement; the degree of movement of which one is capable as governed either the individual’s physical capability or by the constraints of a situation or environment.

movement invention

the creation of movement for dance; the dimension of choreography focused on the creation of movements as opposed to the other elements of choreographic craft (such as structure, the geometry of groupings, pacing, images, etc.)


one who moves; often used interchangeably with dancer.


story, storytelling, or the quality of relating a story through theatrical means.


the act of recognizing a thing, event, or momentary occurrence; the act of noting the meaning or significance in such a case.


the speed and rhythm of a passage of music, movement, speech or action, often encompassing sustained, contrasting and variable rates.


one who takes part in a given activity such as a workshop, rehearsal, or project; denotes active engagement in the activity; term is often used to distinguish those participating from those leading, directing, or teaching the activity on the one hand and those only watching or observing on the other.


the act of taking part in a given activity such as a workshop, rehearsal, or project.


one of two (or sometimes more) people engaged in an activity where the participants have collaborative roles, distinctly assigned functions, and/or some degree of shared responsibility, such as a dance, exercise, or assignment


the act of participating as a partner; the particular skills and techniques used for dancing with a partner or choreographing for partners, such as lifting, balancing, and sharing weight.


to enact or otherwise give forth artistic material, usually before an audience; generally implies some degree of preparation.


an event entailing the enactment or iteration of artistic material, usually before an audience.


having the qualities of a performance, sometimes used to contrast such forms with non-performing arts such as writing and visual art.


a limited series of movements, usually constituting a unit within a larger dance structure, sometimes subject to repetition and variation.


repeated customary action; the continuous exercise of a profession or craft, often on the basis of a system or methodology.


a comprehensive concept describing the inner workings of a task that can be applied in many situations.


a question or directive intended to elicit a response (such as a story, memory, image, opinion) often as an early step in developing artistic content.


an interrogative expression used to seek a response; see prompt


the scope of possibility; may refer to an individual’s capability as in movement or aesthetic range, or to the scope covered by a given movement, exercise or artwork.


an ordered recurrent pattern of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence in movement, music, or speech; the overall characteristic of such patterning.


the order of things, such as movements in a phrase, phrases in a segment, segments in a scene, or scenes in a narrative; the act or craft of arranging elements in a sequence.

shake out

to make quick shaking motions of arms, legs, head, and trunk. Usually done between movement assignments to allow he body to loosen up and refocus.


a defined extent in three dimensions, particularly as employed as an element in dance or movement.


relating to space.


having sufficient artistic merit and integrity to be appropriate for public performance.


the craft, practice, or act of relating stories, especially when employing the spoken word.


format, container, beginning-middle-end; the overall arc of a performance piece; the rules of a guided experience.


skill or conditioning acquired through training; the ability to consistently execute a task at a high level; a method for accomplishing a particular outcome; a system of physical and aesthetic training that cultivates the ability to execute dance (or other art form) of a particular genre or style.


words, either in spoken or written form; can be part of a process or performance. Text can help give context and give audiences a link to the abstraction of movement.

text and movement

moving and speaking at the same time, or otherwise in significant relationship to one another; dance/theater technique that combines story, information, the specificity of language and the capacity for movements to have multiple meanings.


a repeated idea, the message, the significant idea; a movement or musical phrase, often straightforward in style and structure, on which a series of variations is based.


a device, structure or format used to generate creative material; a technique subject to minor variations which can be used to achieve a wide variety of outcomes.

trained dancer

someone who has studied movement in a formal environment, particular with a basis in one or more defined dance techniques.


a repetition of a movement or a tool which changes one or more aspects of the original.


preparation of the mind and body for the work ahead; a structure that facilitates such preparation, often imparting skills that will be put to use later in a workshop or rehearsal


a guided experience that develops skills in a finite amount of time. Workshops can be one time events or a series that culminates in a performance project.