More about The Tutorial Guide to DanceForms

Janet Randell presents the Guide from the point of view of dancers and choreographers. One of its aims is to encourage the discovery of a different approach to dance and choreography and to make 3D dance animation more accessible to the dance world. The Guide also explores the innovative possibilities involved in creating and experimenting with animated movement sequences and live dance, which can be set rhythmically to music and sound.

Randell’s approach in the Guide is to mentor every user on an individual, progressive journey to discover digital choreography and animation. Her objective is for users to understand and apply a new perspective in the art of movement and choreography by mastering DanceForms.

Starting with the basics, the Guide takes the user step by step through DanceForms. It shows how to visualise dance on a computer by choreographing digital sequences independently of the rehearsal studio, enabling the interpretation and translation of animated movement into live dance and performance.

The Guide demonstrates how to use virtual dancers in DanceForms and how to choreograph using the 4 main windows: Performance, Stage, Studio and Score.

Virtual dancers displayed in the 4 windows – Janet Randell © Cedar Dance Animations Limited

Janet Randell © Cedar Dance Animations Limited 2019


In DanceForms, ballet and modern dance figures, both male and female, represent the human body each with individual moveable joints. The Guide illustrates how to flex the joints of the figures, how to define the height or length of a jump, how to pinpoint a dance figure’s exact location in a virtual performance space and how to manage the transition from one dance sequence to another. The virtual dancers can also be moved in space and through time.


Group Study                                                                                    Hurdle Jump 

Janet Randell © Cedar Dance Animations Limited

The Guide shows how, with the click of a button, a virtual dancer can be repositioned by changing the joint angles and limb segments into a series of poses, which are not necessarily restricted by human anatomical limitations or gravity. Any pose can be altered, copied and pasted easily. The Guide demonstrates how a movement sequence is generated, by creating keyframes along a timeline in the Score Window. These can be played as a continuous sequence and developed into a dance. The score below shows three dancers moving in canon. Janet writes: “Just as you record notes on a music score, so in DanceForms you can record movement and poses in the Score Window. Expressed in more poetic terms, it is as if you are ‘writing music with bodies’ using DanceForms”.

DanceForms Score Window: Study for Three – Janet Randell © Cedar Dance Animations Limited

A number of dance figures can be added to a virtual stage. The Guide shows how to make more complex sequences for groups performing in unison or in canon. Music and Motion Capture (MoCap) can be introduced too, together with coloured costumes and backgrounds. The possibilities are endless.

For those focused on ballet, it is easy to start by working with balletic poses.

Arabesque in 3 Windows – Janet Randell © Cedar Dance Animations Limited

Swanhilda, posing as the mechanical doll in the traditional ballet Coppélia is a good starting point for experimenting with your own movements. Puppet-like in appearance, the dance figures can be manipulated into different shapes, moving through space and time with rhythm, all of which can be explored in infinite choreographic ways.

Mechanical Doll Pose – Janet Randell © Cedar Dance Animations Limited, Coppelia, Birmingham Royal Ballet. Photo: Andrew Ross

You can experiment with creating and adapting individual poses and sequences. You never know where your experimentations will take you!

Effort for One – Janet Randell © Cedar Dance Animations Limited

You can try out other programs by exporting animation sequences from DanceForms into a number of different computer software packages, to see where the imagination leads in further experimentation with digital dance.

Janet Randell © Cedar Dance Animations Limited

Sideways Moves – Janet Randell © Cedar Dance Animations Limited