Symbols – Card Set


Sparks for Creative Choreography – Get those moves happening!

Ideas for dance can come from anywhere – from a piece of music, a story or from observation of the world around us. Limitless possibilities are wonderful and exciting. But sometimes they can also seem daunting, and that’s when some focused inspiration is needed!

Here’s an accessible, hands-on resource to get the creative juices flowing, perfect for dance teachers who work with children, young people or adults – or dancers who work for themselves! Originally designed for school teachers and human service workers, Symbols is a set of 100 laminated cards, each featuring a hand-drawn, iconic image. They can be used to evoke moods, memories and stories, and suggest theatrical props. There are even cards representing ballet slippers and music, as well as cards that suggest particular movements or gestures.

Symbols is ideal for tactile learners, and many of images resonate across cultures making them accessible to non-English speakers. The cards are a  fantastic prompt for creative activities across all the arts, and are produced and sold by Innovative Resources in Australia (AU$49.50).

Scroll down this page to read suggested activities for dance.

Published by Innovative Resources, 2007
ISBN: 978 1 9209451 90
100 laminated, full-colour cards, 105mm x 105mm
Full colour polypropylene box, 48 page booklet
Booklet authors: Linda Espie & Russell Deal
Designer: Brad Welsh


Activities with Symbols

  • Lay the cards out on the floor. Invite each child to select a card. What story or mood does the image suggest? Invite each child to devise a movement or short dance that includes, represents or evokes the image on the card. Try this activity with or without music.
  • Invite each student to choose a card that depicts an object (for example the wand, key, flower, suitcase). What is the purpose of the object? How does the body move when that object is used?  Ask the students to imagine that they are holding the object and demonstrate three movements or gestures using it. Encourage the children to each tell a short story about the object through dance. Alternatively, older students may be encourage to ‘stylise’ their three movements/gestures to create an abstract dance. 
  • Shuffle the cards and turn them face down. Ask each child to pick a card at random and come up with a movement inspired by the card. Divide the group in two and ask half the children to demonstrate their moves. Can the remaining half of the group spot ways to link the different movements, for example, in a choreographic sequence or by telling a story? Now ask the groups to swap over and repeat the activity. 
  • For older children or young people, spread the cards face down and invite each student to select three cards at random. Can they each devise a short dance incorporating elements suggested by each card? 
  • Ask the students to divide into groups of 3 or 4. Invite one member of each group to choose or select a card at random. Now, working together, each group must devise a striking tableau (a static pose) inspired by the image on the card. Encourage the students to think about aspects such as their spacing, proximity to the ground, intensity of gesture, physical connection to each other, style (classical, contemporary) etc.