Topic: Dance structures


Nick, as a scientist by training, profession and upbringing, has always taken an interest in dance structural analysis methodologies[1], where structure is the organisation and arrangement of the parts in a system of dancing. In participative dance genres the focus often is on the repetitive patterning and the relationships between movement groupings. His feeling is that this might be the place for scientific minded logic to integrate with the process of dancing (whatever that might be). In many ways this is true, but in many respects he still has misgivings over the idea of any universal method and notation, and is concerned that this often leads an outsider’s notation of the dance “product”.

Within the southeast European traditional dance context the works of Anca Giurchescu[2] and Martin[3][4] are good examples of applying logical concepts to certain genres of dance. I have touched on some aspects of my questioning in a number of conference papers, dance meetings.

I learnt from practical science and engineering to keep one’s understanding as simple as possible and not to bind up the logic in complex words. These posts are designed to be short and to the point, starting from the basics, without wide referencing to previous history of academic discussions and conventions.


  1. Kaeppler, Adrienne Lois & Dunin, Elsie Ivancich (editors) (2007). Dance structures: perspectives on the analysis of human movement. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó.
  2. Giurchescu, Anca & Bloland, Sunni (1995). Romanian traditional dance: a contextual and structural approach. Mill Valley, California: Wild Flower Press.
  3. Martin, Gyorgy & Pesovar, Erno (1961). A structural analysis of the Hungarian folk dance (a methodological sketch). Acta Etnografica, 10: pages 1–40.
  4. Martin, György & Pesovár, Ernő (1963). Determination of motive types in dance folklore. Acta Ethnographica Scientiarium Hungaricae, 12: pages 295–331.