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Dance Looks to Art for Inspiration

Part 1: Sources of Inspiration

As a choreographer, I am always on the look out for inspiration from the shapes and patterns made by the human body. It is possible to walk through an art gallery and find the embryo of an idea for a dance piece just from studying one exhibit. Very often a choreographer is asked to create a dance within an opera, play or film and research is often possible through pictorial or written documentation and more recently, video.

For the film Shakespeare in Love, I looked at Elizabethan paintings and studied what people were wearing at the time; the stiffness of the ruffs and the heaviness of the hooped skirts gave me an idea of how movement would have been affected.

More specifically, when recreating a burlesque can-can for a play, I studied Lautrec’s Jane Avril Dansant and Seurat’s Le Chahut as well as the photographs and cartoons of the time.

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