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Narrative Dance


Students select an episode of the podcast This American Life and create a summary which they will choreograph into a narrative dance structure. Each student will utilize the Universal Dance Vocabulary to communicate elements of the story through a solo performance set to music.

Learning Objectives

The purpose of this project is to help students:

  • Develop an understanding of the Universal Dance Vocabulary

  • Utilize elements of choreography and dance vocabulary to convey narrative through movement

  • Summarize and translate a story belonging to another person using elements of choreography and avoiding acting or miming

Materials & Technology

Week 1:

Students are given Handout 1 which describes the project and its requirements. Students are directed to browse the online archives of previous episodes of the podcast This American Life and select an episode which they would like to translate into a choreographed solo.


Students are given time in class to compose a summary of the episode they selected.

Then, students are given Handout 2 and Handout 3. Students select which dance vocabulary terms they want to use in their choreography in order to communicate to the viewer what is happening in the story. Special attention should be paid to how the characters are feeling and what pivotal actions are occurring.


Week 2:

Students choreograph a solo with a narrative structure using the dance vocabulary they selected from Handouts 2 and 3.

Students must submit a first draft for corrections. Lastly, students perform solo before the class.


The following activities are graded:

  1. Universal Dance Vocabulary worksheet

  2. Performance

  3. Peer- and self-reflection and critique

Examples of Student Work

Click the icons below to view examples of Kelly Dinh's work for this assignment

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