Choreography Tips & Tricks
Part 1: Inspiration

Kristen Lawson
3 min readFeb 15, 2021
Photo by Marten Newhall on Unsplash

Originally published Aug 7, 2017, on burlesquer Aurora Wilde’s blog.

Research the styles, people, and time periods you are emulating. Whether you are only using them as a starting point, or aiming for an exact representation, do some research to use as your basis for creation.

Are you inspired by the Roaring Twenties? Look up the fashions and dances of the time, the hottest artists, and what was happening socially and politically. All of these things can enrich your story and choreography.

Are you doing an impersonation of a favourite performer? Look into their home life, childhood, mental health, etc. as well as their on-stage persona. This adds deeper layers of understanding which will help you present this person as a whole.

Photo by Jade Stephens on Unsplash

The more I learn about the people and things that inspire me the more I find people and things to be inspired by.

Do you love a certain performer? Find out what inspires them. Find out why they do the things they do, and how they do them. The deeper you go the more there is to feed your imagination. Follow those passions down the rabbit hole and you will constantly be finding new acts, ideas, and styles to spark your interest and get you working on that next number.

Photo by Rendy Novantino on Unsplash

Do you keep using the same moves over and over? Want to shake things up?

Let’s say your over-used move is blowing a kiss to the audience. Choose one aspect of that move. It could be gesturing, using your hands, showing affection, breaking the 4th wall, etc.

Now let’s work with the last one. How else can the 4th wall be broken? Try going into the audience, talking to them, winking, bringing someone onstage, etc. You can pick one or all of the above to achieve the desired effect in a different way.

Photo by David Hofmann on Unsplash

One of the great sins of choreographers is forgetting to choreograph transitions. Too often people will plan certain events or movements, such as when each peel will happen, but don’t put much thought into the moments in between. How do you go from point A to point B? What about point from A to A.1, A.2, etc.?

Carefully constructed transitions can smooth out the jerky, stop and start feel that comes with many half-finished choreographies. They can be used to explore the character and storyline, or to show off your assets.

Need to cross from one side of the stage to another? How would your character achieve that? Need to fill up another verse before you get to the chorus? Don’t throw that time away! Fill it with purposeful, relevant choreography.

Read Part 2.



Kristen Lawson

Hi! I'm an artist and writer, currently working as a marketer for Ballet BC. I write reviews of theatre and dance shows in Vancouver, and sometimes books, too.