How to Write a Damn Good Dance Scene !

Introduction : a dance scene is more about the conversation the characters are having through the medium of the action. The physical actions of your characters are really just another form of expression, like a secondary conversation, underlying the primary verbal conversation. The most important thing to figure out is what the characters’ intentions are and how your characters can express them through their dance – oriented interaction.

1) Preparation

First of all, the objective is to collect all informations you need about your dance scene (technical, history, habits etc.)

  • Looking at videos for learning how the dances you’re using work and look
  • Understanding the community and history that surrounds them
  • Read some interviews, chat or book with some dancers about dancing, so you can figure out how your characters might think about it
  • Taking a dance class could also help to experience it
  • Search for references : Titles, habits, cloth etc. – I can be very useful to select a track for your scene
  • Consult various scholar references, including specialized glossaries or images about dance movement and steps etc.

2) Identify Character Intentions


See, all things flow from the characters’ intentions, objectives and desire –setting up some obstacles. So all you need to figure out then is :

  • What each character wants- define a want list for each or a clear goal (and, of course, what there is to know about it)
  • What each character knows about the other character’s intentions
  • What each character would do to get what they want
  • How each character would react to the other character’s actions
  • Define what is the nature of the conflict : an object, money, love, power, social or psychological conflict etc.
  • What each character is going to do in getting what he wants – to reach his goal – what are the intensity of their desires
  • What each character is going to Win / Loose – what is the reward

So basically, just make sure to nail down the flow of information, intention, goal and interaction between your characters on a high level.

3) Scene ingredients & context setting

TrueLies_SceneSetupThe scene ingredients are a part of the dance intention, the meaning and the mood. You can really use them to play with :

  • Define the appropriate set, environment, time and mood – it’s cliché, but it always seems to be raining when things go from bad to worse
  • Use and Re arrange the classical unities rules, from Aristotelian’s Poetics, for your dance, according to your needs :
  • The unity of action: the dance should have one main action that it follows
  • The unity of place: the dance should cover a single physical space
  • The unity of time: the dance should take place in a continuous time space
  • Set the wardrobe, dress or any particular style of clothing to your characters regarding the dance style, the scene context and character’s intentions.
  • List all the props and accessory the characters could use during the dance
  • All these ingredients are toys. List them to play with during the dance.

4) Acting : Action and Physical Expression of Intentions


Dance scenes are about expression, action, and characters interactivity with themselves, an audience and ingredients.

  • Define all possible interactions with your scene ingredients
  • Think about all nonverbal communication – you can use it to double-down on what is being said in the dialogue, contradict it, or complicate it (he says he’s excited, but his actions say nervous).
  • Define how to use Character’s actions / dance to unveil, express their feelings : A character could do a move rather harder or faster than necessary, press close or linger seductively, squeeze someone’s hand in reassurance, lay their head down in trust, instigate a difficult move that forces the other character to work really hard, ignore the move the other character is trying to do and just do their own thing, hold the other character at a rigid distance, or even just the basic step-on-their-toes-“accidentally” etc.

4) Plot your dance with your Puzzle pieces


Now you have got to solve the puzzle with all your character’s goals, scene ingredients and acting

  • Start by sketching out the “conversation”. All you have to do is write down the interaction—the nonverbal or verbal or pseudoverbal-whatever your characters are engaging in.
  • Take care about dialogue and voice : word choice, sentence length, narrative distance, pacing etc. – do you want a full dialogue while there are dancing or a dance with no speech ?
  • Then, figure out how you could weave in dance-oriented actions in order to enhance and complicate the underlying emotions in the conversation. This can be a fantastic way to build tension, to let the reader know that there is more going on than meets the eye (particularly if a character’s nonverbal actions say something other than what they say verbally), as well as to create an intensely emotional—or even climactic—scene.
  • Insert some specials events and a climax during your scene (Special step dance, combos, or accident or sub plot influence on the dance etc.).
  • Don’t forget to insert some Audience’s reactions, to any important events or to emphasis some key feelings. The audience can express a dancer emotion.
  • The dance can have various ending- open ending, close ending, with or without any resolution- regarding the characters goals or needs.

TrueLies-RoseThe idea is – on any dance scene—is acting as an extension of your character’s feelings and intentions.


Pick up and select what you need – Torture & Love your character – Have Fun !


True Lies directed by James Cameron

True lies Poster

An article partially based on that one Writers Don’t Cry

6 commentaires Ajoutez le vôtre

  1. ressacar dit :

    Un article très utile!


  2. ChaosandOrder dit :

    I thought I would share this beautiful dance.


    1. egouvernaire dit :

      Great ! and I will try to find and add the movie clip of thé 3 danses from YouTube (opening, hotel, and final tango) – best 😊


    1. egouvernaire dit :

      You are most welcome 😊


Répondre à ressacar Annuler la réponse.

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