Official Site of the Minneapolis Public Schools
Home Contact Calendar News Staff
The Elements of Dance
In This Section
The Elements of Dance
The Elements of Dance

What is Dance?
Dance is the art form in which human movement becomes the medium for sensing, understanding, and communicating ideas, feelings, and experiences. Dance provides a way of learning—one that develops communication abilities, problem solving techniques, and creative and critical thinking skills along with kinesthetic abilities. At its core, the goal of dance education is to engage students in artistic experiences through the processes of creation, performance and response.

The Elements of Dance

Dance has its own content, vocabulary, skills, and techniques, which must be understood and applied to be proficient in the art. The elements of dance are the foundational concepts and vocabulary for developing movement skills as well as understanding dance as an art form. All these elements are simultaneously present in a dance or even in a short movement phrase.


The acronym BASTE helps educators and students recall these elements of dance. Use the links above and in the right sidebar to find out more about each element and see video clip examples from outstanding Minnesota dancers and choreographers.

Next Steps
1. In order to understand and talk about the elements of dance, we need to first be able to describe what we see when we watch a video or a live presentation of dance.  In your professional learning community or with your students, use the photo at the top of this page to practice describing and sharing perspectives using the Descriptive Review tool.
2. Download The Elements of Dance chart and add at least three new prompts or suggestion to the columns.

The video clips are provided courtesy of the Southern Theater in Minneapolis, and show work by dance artists affiliated with the Southern Theater as well as outstanding choreographers recognized through the McKnight Fellowships. 

Photo of “Time” by Steve Mortensen; all other photos by Dan Markworth.

More Information