How to Choreograph a Dance

Dance numbers can be as simple as a hokey-pokey or a pop-and-lock, and it can be as complicated as a full-on dance number for a contest or a presentation. Like any group dance, the most important thing you need is choreography; you need to make sure that all participants in the dance number perform the steps expected of them at the right place at the right time. Here are some tips to help you choreograph a dance number.


Pacing depends on the speed and tempo of the music your group is dancing to. The sound, beat, and rhythm of the dance should dictate the pace of all your steps. To create steps based on pace, follow these tips:

Listen to the music. Some choreographers make the mistake of creating a dance first, then pacing the steps in such a way that the steps fit the music. That can confuse many dancers, and the dance steps may not suit the music. Instead, you should listen to the music first, then create dance steps that fit the music.

Use the beat. Many dance moves rely on beats – not rhythm – to create steps and paces. The percussion beat of a song can give you a good idea of where you can place specific steps.

Gauge your dancers’ skills. Not all dancers have the same skill level. For reunions or friendly gatherings, you may even have someone on the group who does not have dancing skills. Design your routine in such a way that everyone can get in on the act.


It can be tempting to create a dance routine where there are unique steps throughout the length of the song, but the steps can be quite difficult to memorize. The key to making a dance routine exciting is to make it easy to follow. Like pacing, repetition relies on the beat and rhythm of the song. If you’re having problems choreographing a dance routine based on repetition, you can follow these quick and easy reminders:

The introduction may involve the entrance and quick warm-up steps.
The first verses can be a cycle of simple moves.
The dance steps of the refrain can transition into the more complex, catchy movements of the chorus.
The cycle of moves for the first verses can then be repeated, and transitioned back into the refrain and the chorus.
Reserve the most complicated or dramatic moves for the bridge.
Revert to the repetition cycles made for the refrain and the chorus.

The structure of your dance routine may vary depending on the structure of the song. Remember that the song should dictate the pace of the performance.

Whether it’s a simple hand jive or an acrobatic spectacle of backflips and windmills, a dance routine can get everyone involved in the spirit of good fun. With these steps, you can choreograph a memorable dance that people can catch on to.

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