We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Dance Score?

By Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Musical Expert is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Musical Expert, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A dance score is piece of written music, specifically written for dance performances. Alternately, the term "dance score" refers to notations showing sequences of movements dancers are supposed to use — that is, they are documents showing choreography. Although it is possible, it is rare for someone to dance without music, so the two types of scores are inevitably highly intertwined.

A major difference between musical dance scores and choreographic dance scores is who creates them. Composers, who are trained in aspects of composition such as harmony and orchestration, write musical dance scores. Their palette is the musical staff, clefs, notes and rests of varying durations, time signatures and other music notation elements such as crescendos, tempo indications and repeat signs.

By contrast, choreographers usually produce choreographic dance scores. They take at least one staff from the musical dance score and add symbols or other directions to it to dictate exactly what the dancer is supposed to do for every beat of the music. They must have an understanding of music to do this, but their primary experience and training is with dance and body movement. Often, those who create choreographic dance scores have danced professionally and thus are extremely familiar with how to execute specific dance techniques.

Another way of looking at dance scores is the difference in senses. The audience receives musical dance scores with their ears; the score is auditory in nature. The audience receives choreographic dance scores through their eyes as they watch the dancers; the score is visual.

Musical dance scores do not have any set form. Composers may write whatever music they feel is suited to the type of dance the choreographer plans to create. If the choreographer needs a specific dance, however, the composer may use the form of the dance as an outline for the composition. This was very common in the Baroque and Classical periods, where composers routinely wrote music for specific dances such as the gavotte, gigue, sarabande or waltz.

Several types of notation are in use for choreographic dance scores; of these, Labanotation and Benesh Movement Notation are the most common. Choreographers are often familiar with several different systems in much the same way musicians know different musical genres.

Choreographic dance scores play a key role in preserving dance technique. They show not only individual movements, but how one movement may flow naturally from one to the next. The scores are useful in dance analysis, as well as recreating dances with high levels of accuracy.

One commonality a choreographic dance score and musical dance score have is that they can take months to create. They sometimes are produced in much shorter periods based on the demands of the person commissioning the score, but because both composers and choreographers have to be meticulous in each type of score, the simple act of notating the ideas can be very time consuming. With the advancement of technology, however, both composers and choreographer can use computer programs for notation, greatly simplifying the task and allowing neater, faster and more accurate and readily-replicated scores.

Musical Expert is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.