What Are Textures In Dancing?

Dance Culture

What Are Textures In Dancing?

Jessie Ma
January 23, 2024
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We hear the word textures in dancing all the time, but many of us interpret it differently.

What we do know for sure is that using the right textures in dancing is key in matching your moves to the music.

Textures also help you depict the right intention and make your piece come to life as a whole. So let’s explore what textures in dancing are.

1. How does a move FEEL?

Think about these objects:

Honey. Tree bark. Velvet. Sandpaper. Silk. A cheese grater. A fish swimming in water. Nails on a chalkboard.

Do you imagine these things feeling different? You should! That means they have different textures.

Textures literally means “the feel, appearance, or consistency of a surface or a substance.”

For example:

Honey is thick and gooey.

Sandpaper is rough.

A fish glides smoothly in water.

Nails scratch on a chalkboard (ouch).

Now let’s take this literal translation of textures to what textures mean in dancing.

Textures in dancing refers to how the move feels on your body (when you do it) or how the move feels on the eyes (when you watch it).

Let’s take a look at some different textures in dancing.

2. Examples of different textures of a piece

Watch how Archie Saquilabon moves in his “Ante Up” piece.

Now, compare that with Dezi Del Rosario’s execution in her “One Wish” piece.

How would you describe these two pieces?Archie’s piece is strong and explosive. I mean, he’s dancing to gunshots!

Overall, it’s stimulating and exciting to watch, with a lot of clean lines, sharp hits and powerful, staccato combos.

textures in dancing

Aw sh*t! Dezi’s is super easy on the eyes – very smooth, controlled, resistant. It’s like she’s dancing in a tub of honey. MmmMMmmmm~~~

textures in dancing

Like in Archie’s and Dezi’s pieces, textures in dancing can be used to describe how a piece feels as a whole.

But we also use textures in dancing to explain how a specific movement is executed.

3. Examples of different textures for a single move

You can do the exact same move using a different texture to give it a completely new quality.

For example...

Watch these clips of me doing the exact same move, using different types of textures.

textures in dancing

Texture: Plain, power is evenly distributed from point A to point B

Looks/feels like: Not much


textures in dancing

Texture: Resistant, tense, drawn out

Looks/feels like: Dancing in a tub of jello

textures in dancing

Texture: Quick, powerful, sharp

Looks/feels like: a rubber band snapping back to place

textures in dancing

Texture: Bouncy, light

Looks/feels like: jumping on a trampoline

Now, what would happen if we combined these different textures?

textures in dancing

We go from resistant to quick and sharp.

textures in dancing

Watch it go from bouncy to resistant.

When you change up the texture in your dancing, the look and feel of the move can be transformed!

You can also combine different textures to create even more dynamic moves!

4. Using textures in dancing for musicality

Why are textures so important, anyway?

For one, utilizing different textures allows you to create infinite variations of moves – as you saw in the examples above.

And since each texture has a different look, it can match a different sound. For example, a move that’s quick and sharp better matches a snare (“ka!”),

textures in dancing

and a move that’s more rounded and resistant

textures in dancing

look more like a long bass. (“boom~”).

Experimenting with different ways your body moves is the key to great musicality.

Bianca Vallar from Choreo Cookies puts it beautifully:

“Textures are like dynamics and musical articulation in piano. They accentuate the music and match the changes and flow of the song, as well as add performance technique to a piece.Textures can be staccato, sharp, fast and direct to the point. Or they can be legato, smooth, and flow with the melody.And textures all depend on your interpretation on how you hear the music and wish to portray that to your viewer.Dancers are physical interpretations of music and textures allow people to see the music more clearly.”

For example, in “Like A Boy,” Sorah Yang utilizes textures that are slow and resistant:

textures in dancing

As well as textures that are powerful and more loose.

textures in dancing

She does this to highlight the differences in sound she is dancing to within the song.

When you take a dance class, pay close attention to how the choreographer sings the move. This will tell you how they want you to execute the movement.

For example,

A “ONE e and a TWO!” is much different from a “one….. AND two…. threeeeee~”

Listen to the music, listen to the counts, and try to match your textures to those.

5. How to execute different textures

If you are choreographing or learning a piece, then a great way to understand your textures is to visualize!

“Pretend you’re touching something. Then take that thing away, and pretend you’re still touching it. That’s how you dance with the texture you imagine.”

Clay Doh Boon

Got the feeling of the texture? Great! Now let’s talk mechanics – how to create these textures.

Two main things to utilize in order to create the “right” textures in dancing are: power and speed.

Power refers to how much you’re tensing your muscles or how much energy you’re putting behind your moves and when.

Speed is how quickly or slowly you’re doing the move.

This chart illustrates basic combinations of the two elements.

textures in dancing

For example, this milky resistant texture is slow and strong. I’m tensing my muscles as I move through the pathway.

textures in dancing

This thrashy move is loose and fast.

textures in dancing

Both your power and speed are on a spectrum, so you are not limited to these 4 extreme categories.

The graph is to help understand the ways you can control your texture. Practice your musicality by matching your power and speed with the way a song sounds!

Hope this gave you a better idea of textures in dancing – and how to practice them!Watch this video for a quick recap this article:

Remember – textures in dancing isn't about what move you do, but how you do it.

Keep practicing how you execute your textures in dancing by listening to different types of music and experimenting with your power and speed.

Brittnie Aguilar has this quick, FREE 10-minute tutorial on executing with 3 different textures.

Practice more 10-minute drills, as well as full pieces of choreography – only on STEEZY Studio!