top of page

When planning a choreography, a stimuli or concept can be used to create material. A stimulus is an idea or a starting point that can inspire your choreography. Some artists have important messages to communicate, while others enjoy playing with material and the concepts they generate. There are no limits to imagination. There is no right or wrong in the creative process and decision-making. However, this decision can be guided and can be categorized. It is essential that you experience lots of different stimuli because it will help you find new ways of moving, and it will also help you appreciate the dances you watch. Stimuli can be grouped linked to senses: visual (sight), auditory (sound), kinaesthetic (feeling), tactile (touch), and ideational (the brain). On the following page, you will find five categories of different themes with examples from other choreographers. Those categories can help you find inspiration for your choreographic piece!

01 Words|Poem|Text

These stimuli include instructions, plays, storylines, characters, speeches, etc. Storytelling is the process of using facts and narrative to communicate something to your audience. Some stories are factual and based on personal experiences, whereas others are based on other people's works. A choreography that is narrative has a story that is being told to the audience. 

For your O'levels, you can write a simple story. However, using a character and a plot to guide your creative journey is helpful. Some of the stories you learn in school can also inspire the narrative. 


The ballet of Swan Lake uses the story of Odette, a princess turned swan by an evil sorcerer cure spell. The story is used to create the choreographic piece. Another story could be your inspiration! [Click on the image to see 'Swan Lake']

You can even use an existing story and create your interpretation of it. The choreographer Matthew Bourne has made his version of the story 'Swan Lake' by making all swans in the story men and changing the style from ballet to contemporary dance. [Click on the image to see an extract of the Matthew Bourne adaptation of 'Swan Lake']



Look for a poem in English that you are studying in school and use as a stimulus for a short choreography. You can record your task and share it in the Forum of this website to receive feedback from your peers. 

02 Photograph| Piece of 2D or 3D art

This could be drawings, paintings, sculptures, collages, cartoons, prints, photos. You could use different ideas that the elements in the image present. Think about people, places, objects, associations, lines, shapes, forms, colors, textures, patterns, abstracts, representational, etc. Find some examples of paintings below. 


You can choose as an example a painting (in this case from the artist Jackson Pollock) and use it to represent the abstract shapes and lines created. Or select different dancers to follow the patterns created by each colour used in it. Be creative!

'Convergenza'- Jackson Pollock, 1952

03 Prop

A prop can also be used as inspiration for a choreography. Examples include suitcases, sheets, scarves, pieces of Lycra, umbrellas, etc. 

Gene Kelly uses an umbrella as a prop in a fantastic variety of ways in his famous 'Singing in the rain' solo. 

04 Feature of the Natural World

A natural feature can be a landscape, seascape, rainforest, weather, earthquake, volcano, earth, air, fire, water, etc. To use as stimuli, you can think about the shape, form, movement, pattern, journey, and effects on living things. 


One dance idea can use different types of stimuli. For a dance based on clouds, your stimuli cloud includes shape and movement from observations (natural), photos or films of different styles and formations (visual), and Rupert Brooke's poem 'Clouds' (auditory). 

[click on the image to open the poem]

Task 1

You can create a different example by finding different types of stimuli. Try to find something for each sense: visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, tactile, and ideational. Write a list of other stimuli and share it on the forum. 

05 Music Composed before 1970

A piece of music composed before 1970 can be instrumental, sung, classical, pop, solo, orchestral, or quartet. You can think about the style, time, place, culture, form/structure, tempo, mood, melody, meaning, pattern, rhythm, and lyrics. 

The choreographer Crystal Pite uses the four seasons composed by Vivaldi to create a beautiful piece inspired by the music called 'The Seasons'.

06 Everyday Activity| Historical Event

This could be any activity or event, such as people at work, rest or play, places where people gather, routines and rituals, news items, dramas and conflicts, events that changed the world, etc. This can lead to human behaviors, movement patterns, groupings, formations, interactions, and moods. 

One example is the piece choreographed by Pina Bausch, 'Café Müller,' in which the choreographer used her experience as a child observing people in her parents' cafe to create a dance piece using the gestures and rituals of the people. 

How to use stimulus

After choosing the stimulus you want to use to inspire your choreography, you need to start planning your dance. Consider this as the stage where you create a recipe and choose the ingredients for your dance. Getting started on your dance is the hardest part, but you can do some planning before getting in the studio using different planners and diagrams. Utilizing a planner will help you by providing more ideas and structure for the dance. You can come up with your planner; however, on the learning tool page, you will find some examples of diagrams that you can download and use. 

bottom of page