How to Use Props in Modern Dancing

Written by ryn gargulinski
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How to Use Props in Modern Dancing
Modern dance props can be anything from apples to zebra skin. (Photo by Ryn Gargulinski)

Forget the cane and top hat. Modern dance has evolved to express all types of emotions, sensations and even gymnastics well beyond the conventional dance. That means your props should reflect that evolution. You can use props in modern dancing with a few simple (dance) steps.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Props that match your routine

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  1. 1

    Figure out the tone and interpretation of your dance routine. Maybe it’s a happy-go-lucky samba or a slow, steady tale of woe.

  2. 2

    Pick the props that match the tone. The happy dance can use things that make people happy, such as fresh flowers, doves hovering about your head or a yellow smiley face balloon. The woeful dance can include black scarves and even a skull.

  3. 3

    Incorporate the props into the routine. Get the routine down pat first, then figure out where props would work. Does the happy number have a section with vigorous arm movements and twirling? That’s where you can tie the smiley face balloon to your wrist.

  4. 4

    Pick props that work with your routine, not against it. This means making the prop appropriate in weight, size, color and ease in holding it.

  5. 5

    Be creative. Take a trek to a costume or novelty store or even a junkyard to pick some props. Anything’s game.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure the props you hold are secure and hats, balloons, scarves and skulls don’t go flying into the audience.
  • Don’t limit yourself to props you can hold. Feel free to include props you can climb, kick off of and do backflips over. Maybe your woeful dance should end with your folding down to a coffin on stage.
  • If you do drop a prop, keeping going as if you meant it.

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