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16 Ways to Manipulate a Motif | Core Composition | HSC Dance

The 16 Ways to Manipulate a Motif is a fantastic tool to assist with the creation of movement manipulations based off your motif/s.

What are the 16 Ways to Manipulate a Motif?

  1. Repetition

  2. Retrograde

  3. Inversion

  4. Size

  5. Tempo

  6. Rhythm

  7. Quality

  8. Instrumentation

  9. Force

  10. Background

  11. Staging

  12. Embellishment

  13. Levels

  14. Additive

  15. Fragmentation

  16. Combination

How do you use The 16 Ways to Manipulate a Motif in order to create exciting and original movement in core composition to communicate a concept/intent?

Here are some explanations of my personal favourites ...


There are so many different ways you can utilise repetition in the manipulation of motif/s. When using repetition it is important to understand how it fits in to the communication of your concept/intent. You can use it to:

  • Restate

  • Reinforce

  • Re-echo

  • Revisa

  • Recall

  • Reiterate


I love this one! It basically is what you have originally done, however, you reverse it and perform it backwards. Of course, if you do this you need to be able to justify its use. What does it help communicate in your work? How does it communicate meaning? What is its purpose?


Have you ever thought of performing movements upside down? That is exactly what inversion means! This could help portray many things. Maybe it could help portray a loss of control, lack of emotional stability etc.


How big is the size of the moment you are creating? Can you make it smaller? Can you make it larger? Smaller manipulations of your motif/s could help portray loss of confidence, lack of resilience, fragility, being scared or lonely etc. Bigger movement could represent confidence, explosions etc.


How fast are your movements? Faster tempo manipulations of your core composition movement motif/s could suggest the idea of being frantic, rushed, running out of time etc. Slower tempo manipulation could suggest lack of energy, taking time to think, focusing on something that is taking over the brain, slow processes etc.


Can you perform your motif or a manipulation of your motif with a different body part? Instead of performing it with your arm, can you perform it with a finger? Instead of folding the arm out, can you fold the leg out?


How can you decorate the movement by adding to it? Can you add a bent elbow, differ the eyeline or add stillness? This is great as it allows for you to add pizzazz to movement motifs and create interesting new variations of motif/s.

Using the 16 Ways to Manipulate a Motif is an awesome tool and I highly recommend you use it if you feel as though you are stuck with your creative process. If you get really stuck, write each one on a piece of paper and draw it out of a hat. It is a great trick to get you out of a creative block.

Remember, we have plenty of resources to assist you with your Core Composition journey.

Subscribe to our Core Composition resources:

Film your choreography/composition and send it in for in-depth feedback:

Video call out tutor to talk about your process and how you can make improvements to your composition:

Happy Learning,

Helena Adele

Bachelor of Dance Education

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