Movement/ Choreography in Musicals

Lesson #5: Movement/ Choreography in Musicals


Objective: Students will demonstrate an understanding of how movement and specific choreography furthers the plot in musicals by participating in a dance review.


Materials Needed: Dance Styles PPT & Clips of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder & An American in Paris


Hook: Alibaba & the 40 Thieves

Have the students stand in a circle and begin to chant “Alibaba & the 40 Thieves” in the same tempo. The 1st person will start a movement/ dance that the 2nd person will copy. This gets passed down to each person in the circle. However, the first person will be creating new movement/ dance that the 2nd person will have to watch for, and pass around next.



Introduce and discuss the role movement and choreography have in musical theatre. Compare Gentleman’s Guide to American in Paris. *Write on the board* Explain that almost all movement has a purpose in musical theatre. It either:

  • furthers plot
  • introduces/gives deeper analysis of characters
  • expresses emotion.

Have the students give examples of performances that fit with each of the three purposes.


Step 1: Body Language

The students will be given a word or emotion for which they create a statue with their bodies as a class. (ex. Love, War, Isolation, Curiosity, Oppression, Friendship, Lies, etc. ) Ask the students to then create some sort of movement that takes them from shape to shape. Add different types of music and tell them to move in whatever way the music makes them feel.


Step 2: Dance Call/ Styles

Play the PPT of Dance Styles, and review the origin of each genre. Assess their knowledge of each genre by asking what moves they know from that genre. Teach the class the most iconic steps found in that genre after assessing.


Step 3:

Explain to the students that they are going to create a short series of movements that center around a theme (ex. My first date, my most awkward date, eating breakfast, studying etc.) Have them keep in mind the three aspects of dance and recognize which one their movement does. Their movement should be fairly short only about eight counts max.


Step 4: Give them time to work by themselves or with a partner to create their movement and give them an allotted time.


Step 5:

Bring everyone together. Depending on the class size, have either all of the students or just a few students show their movement to the class. Have the class see if they can pinpoint what aspect the movement covers. Then have the student teach the class their movement. The teacher should make it fit the music the best they can while still preserving the original as much as possible.