Using Art as Inspiration for Movement

Using Art as Inspiration for Movement


Wiggles. We all have them and need to move frequently. How can we translate those wiggles into a language of expression?

This November, I attended the 2019 American Orff-Schulwerk Association National Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was inspiring and left me with many ideas and new songs to teach. One session was a stand-out due to its brilliant simplicity. Dr. Martina Vasil, assistant professor of music education at the University of Kentucky, presented Creative Movement with Keith Haring and Hip-Hop. Both my students and I are very familiar with Hip-Hop. Keith Haring was new to me.

Keith Haring is a visual artist known for his iconic figures and radiating symbols. He was instrumental in the art scene of New York City beginning in the late 1970s and early 80s. Many of his drawings were inspired by breakdancers. For more information about Keith Haring and his application to the classroom, check out

Applications for Music Teachers

Movement Lesson: Imitate/Explore/Create Movement

Grade Level: K-5

  1. Prepare pictures to show students that they can imitate
  2. First, have students imitate drawings (images shown below) as a statue then bring it to life with music (Vasil used Kurtis Blow’s The Breaks 
  3. Challenge students with artwork with two or more figures.
  4. Guided composition – Teacher models a four-artwork movement composition. Small groups decide how many times to do the motion before moving on.

Collaboration with Art Teacher: Dance as Inspiration for Art

Grade level: K-5

  1. Prepare multi-colored paper and black markers.
  2. Review dancing learned in the last class.
  3. Warmup: Students move through space when music is on. When music stops, freeze.
  4. Review some Haring artwork and break dancing videos.
  5. Challenge students to move in hip-hop style and freeze in an interesting way that mimics Haring’s artwork.
  6. Teacher Model: Class is seated and teacher asks for a volunteer. Volunteer’s job is to dance only when the music plays. When the music stops…freeze. Once the student freezes, teacher’s job is to quickly draw an outline of the student’s figure. Teacher gets to draw two times (two times the music is played and stopped). Teacher and volunteer swap. Volunteer now draws and teacher dances.
  7. Class partners up and tries activity as modeled. Class shares their drawing at the end. What expression or mood does the figure portray?
  8. Extension: cut out drawings and combine them together in a final mural. Add symbols important to Haring to add more expression and meaning to the final project.

This activity was extremely fun to create and was especially engaging. It was also very enjoyable to walk around the room and see what the other groups had made.


Applications for Classroom Teachers:

  1. Collaborate with your Music or Art Teacher. They might be interested in teaching about Keith Haring and 80s Hip Hop.
  2. Use as a brain break. Display the Keith Haring images above and have students imitate the movements.
  3. Conscious Discipline: Use this as a Brain Start Smart. Dancing will unite, some of the pictures provide a safe way to connect, and the hip-hop music will disengage stress. You can find clean 80s hip hop on YouTube. One playlist to check out is

If you have any questions, please email me at


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