Ideas for dance formations

Updated April 17, 2017

Adding group formations to your dance can turn a good routine into an impressive visual spectacle. Stick with a few basic geometric shapes or experiment with complex patterns and formations. From high-energy jazz routines to graceful ballet pieces, placing dancers in creative and eye-pleasing formations can make your audience go wild.

Diagonal Line

You can add an extra dimension to your dance by making your straight lines diagonal. More visually exciting than horizontal flat lines, diagonal formations look best on a stage with a lot of depth. For a clean, uniform look, place your shortest dancer in the front of the line with the other dancers lined up behind her in ascending height. Use diagonal formations for choreography that stays in one place, as it can be difficult for dancers to hold the shape as they travel.


Travelling turn combinations and large leaps look even more exciting performed in a circle formation. Move in a circle for a few counts then open your circle into a line or other open formation for an interesting transition. If you have dancers of different heights and leg lengths, your group may find travelling in a circle tricky. Placing tape on the floor to designate the outside edge of the circle will help dancers grow accustomed to holding the shape as they move.


The pyramid or triangle shape is a powerful way to end or start any dance. Place your shortest dancer at the tip of the pyramid with the next two shortest dancers in a line behind her. Continue adding more lines to the pyramid with an additional dancer on each line. Use this formation for portions of choreography with sharp head and arm movements. Dancers can easily hold the pyramid shape while moving forward and backward, though travelling horizontally might prove more challenging.

The Pinwheel

A popular formation for precision dance teams and cheer squads, the pinwheel looks most outstanding when viewed from above, like in a stadium seat. This advanced dance formation involves four lines of dancers joined at a right angle like "spokes" of a pinwheel. The dancers at the end of each line, hook arms or join hands with the dancer directly across from them so that, visually, the formation looks like two straight lines bisecting one another. Dancers can do small, travelling steps in this line like marches or small kicks, working hard to hold the pinwheel formation as it rotates.

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About the Author

Sarah Badger is a certified pilates and group fitness instructor, writer and dance teacher. Her work has appeared in "Dance Spirit" magazine and several literary journals. Badger earned her bachelor's degree in English and religious studies from Marymount Manhattan College, and currently owns a dance and fitness studio in upstate New York.