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Dance Research Guide: Dance dictionaries

a guide to outstanding dance resources for research and enrichment

Dance dictionaries - primarily online

Oxford Dictionary of Dance

Oxford University Press, 2010.  Available in print in the Reference stacks by call number GV 1585 C78 2010 and online via a link in the catalog record (click title above). With over 2700 entries, this second edition of ODD is a unique single volume reference on all aspects of theatrical dance performance, including cultural dance forms from around the world (anthropologial dance is not included). The work covers all aspects of the diverse dance world including classical ballet, modern, tap, jazz, hip-hop, flamenco, bharatanatyam, and Japanese butoh.  Post-modern dance is also covered, examining everything from Balanchine to recent practitioners of Eurocrash, minimalism, and contact improvisation.  Detailed entries encompass technical terms, steps, styles, works and countries, in addition to many biographies of dancers, choreographers, and companies, the history of music and the changing design of the ballet shoe. 

Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet [ebook]

Dover Publications, 1982 (3rd edition). This work by Gail Grant has a number of helpful illustrations by the author.

American Ballet Theatre Online Dictionary

This handy online reference from ABT once included video demonstrations for some 170 terms and phrases; at present it merely includes audio pronunciations of the terms.  This not a comprehensive list of ballet terms and forms and cannot replace intense study and training. For more, consult Kultur's Video Dictionary of Classical Ballet, available on DVD.

Video Dictionary of Classical Ballet

This two-DVD set demonstrates the complete language of ballet - including positions and directions, barre, linking steps, center practice, pirouettes, adage, allegro, batterie, pointe, and musical enchainements. Includes some 800 steps, including variations in Russian, French, and Cecchetti styles. Many of the movements are shown in slow motion with multiple camera angles and voice-over narrative description.  Further in this vein is Bob Rizzo's 50 Turns & Jumps, another video dictionary on DVD that is not restricted to ballet.

More print dance dictionaries - dance concepts

Dance Words

Harwood Academic, 1995.  Dance Words, located in the Reference stacks, is volume 8 in Harwood's series, Choreography and Dance Studies.  Chapter headings: 
The dance domain - Dance people - The performer - The performer and the movement - Technique - Costume - Movement and the moving body - Dynamics and timing of movement - Space-in-the-body and the dancer in space - Notation - Choreographic form - Some ensemble, group, duo and solo dance concerns - Choreographic processes - The dance sound - The sound and the movement - The dance space - Repertory, revival and tradition - The nexus and the emergence of style - Communication - Dance research.

Print dance dictionaries

Classical Ballet Terms: an Illustrated Dictionary 

Classical Ballet Terms-an Illustrated Dictionary      Dance Books, 2001. The print dictionary explains the precise meanings of over 560 of the French technical terms used in classical ballet while clarifying issues of usage, correct spelling

and grammar. While most of the netries are concerned with the correct translation and basic explanation of technical terms, there are also extended entries which trace both the historical background and the linguistic origins of particular aspects of ballet terminology. This citionary is an essential reference work not only for dance writers, ballet dancers and teachers, but also for all audience members who wish to have a better understanding of this most elegant of art forms.  This title is found in the Reference stacks by call number GV 1787 G53 2001.

Dictionary of Classical Ballet Terminology

London - Royal Academy of Dancing, 1997.  One of the most detailed and meticulously prepared ballet dictionaries available.  This title is found in the Reference stacks by call number GV 1585 R95 1997. 

International Dictionary of Ballet

International Dictionary of Ballet     

St. James Press, 1993.  This two-volume ballet dictionary is considered by catalogers to be an encyclopedia due to its level of detail.  This title is found in the Reference stacks by call

number GV 1585 I57 1993. Biographies from this work can be accessed through the online database Biography in Context (Gale)

International Dictionary of Modern Dance 

St. James Press, 1998.  Encyclopedic in scope, IDMD contains over 400 entries on all aspects of modern dance, from biographical material to essays on movements and more. The majority of entries treat individuals who have influenced the art since the 19th century and include biographical details, dates, education, awards, roles (if they were performers), and specific works.  This title is found in the Reference stacks by call number GV 1585 B46 1998.  Biographies from this work can be accessed through the online database Biography in Context (Gale).

 Modern Dance Terminology

Modern Dance Terminology     

Kamin Dance Publishers, 1953.  An oldie but goodie, with more than just definitions of terms.  Long passages explain not only terms not found in standard dance dictionaries, but the aims,

theories and objectives of modern dance as of the mid-20th century, often quoting modern dance luminaries like Doris Humphrey and Mary Wigman. This title is found in the Reference stacks by call number GV 1585 L65.