Want to make creations as awesome as this one?


jan 2024 - march 2024


Units 5-7

Reflective journal - sixth form year 1

Maria Clara Talebi

When given the stimulus "from stage to screen", I immediately thought of the musical "The Lion King". Apart from being my favourite musical, it has been on stage and on screen before, so it fits the stimulus perfectly. I find my stronger self in contemporary, so that is what I have decided to go for. I want to use this assignment as my moment to shine, and contemporary brings out the best of me as a dancer.I have faced problems picking the song because there are so many beautiful options in this musical. I found myself stuck and decided to carefully listen to my options until I decided to go with "He Lives In You" once I felt really connected to it.In my opinion, it is the strongest song in the musical with amazing lyrics and a powerful voice behind it. I feel so connected to this musical and I am so happy to have the opportunity to take control deciding the song, costumes, makeup and choreography. When thinking about the choeography in the rehearsals, I might face problems with creativity. I plan to give myself breaks and allow me to take as much time as needed. Understanding that "mental block" happens to every dancer is the first step to overcome it. I also find helpful to ask my colleagues for ideas and feedback.

What problems might you face when developing/creating your solo and how do you intend to overcome these problems?

task 1

The Lion King

In Africa, young prince (Simba) loses his father (Mufasa) in a staged accident orchestrated by his evil uncle (Scar). Ater running away with guilt thinking he caused the accident and overcoming the death of his father and his fear of responsibility, Simba returns to take his place in the throne.For this assesment, I will be choreographing the song "He Lives In You"

He Lives In You


In the words of the costume designer herself: "the actors wear masks above their faces because I wanted to present the animal and the human simultaneously". There are over 232 puppets in the show representing animals and it took Julie Taymor (designer) more than 37,000 hours to build all of them. In the musical, the set and the props are mostly orange, yellow and red. Orange represents wisdom, yellow represents hope and red represents love, and the three colors can be seen throughout the musical multiple times in the background and in costumes. The strings and rods of the puppets are all exposed intentionally, to show the art of making theatre and let that become part of the experience.

Set + props

It is a fact that our parents live in us - in the genetic code that makes up our body - but this song goes beyond biology. He Lives in You is about how Mufasa's soul will always be with Simba no matter what. It is meant to reassure him that even though his dad was taken away from him, he will always be by his side. Multiple times throughout the song, it is possible to hear the Zulu word "mamela" that means "listen", implying that Simba should listen to Rafiki when she tells him about Mufasa, and how his dad is "watching over" the whole time, as a way to encourage him to go back where he belongs to take the throne and become the new king of the Pride Lands of Africa. The song was written by Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin and Lebo M and do not appear in the original film, but it appears twice in the stage version: first when Mufasa sings to Simba and second when Rafiki and Simba sing together in the second act. The song eventually appeared in the animated version of The Lion King 2. In my opinion, He Lives in You is the strongest and deepest song, both in the movie and the musical. It is not as notable as Circle of Life or Hakuna Matata but it is still a masterpiece, enhancing the meaning of this beautiful story in both versions (movie and musical).

He Lives In You - lyrics

"In your reflection.He lives in you".


Simba (the character I will be playing in my solo) is a lion who is full of energy, brave and start as a small young prince to become a king after the death of his father, Mufasa, a strong brave and wise king that teaches Simba about being a responsible leader.Nala, Simba's best friend, is a determined cub who grows into a corageous lioness and encourages Simba into returning home to assume the throne.Rafiki (the character that sings He Lives in You) is a spiritual guide that helps Simba on his journey. Rafiki is inspired South African Sangoma who are trusted leaders of the community that guide others.Zazu is extremely loyal to the kingand takes his duties seriously. He is always trying to protect Simba and Nala when their parents are not around and likes to keep things orderly.Scar, the villain, is Mufasa's brother. He is bitter and believes that he should be the king. After killing his brother, he proves to be a weak and selfish leader.Timon and Pumbaa are a meerkat and a warthog who are smart and warm-hearted with a problem-free philosophy (Hakuna Matata!).

Character analysis


Julie Taymor was the costume designer for The Lion King. Julie won the 1998 Tony® Award for Best Direction of a Musical and for Best Costumes for The Lion King. The main colors seen in the costumes are yellow, orange and red.Rafiki's costume has a large number of items including a big shell - representing her femininity - and she walks using a staff representing age and wisdom. Mufasa, Simba, Sarabi and Nala have costumes with the colors yellow, orange and red representing hope, wisdom and love between each other. Mufasa's head is circular and symmetrical representing the sun and the balance with nature while Scar's head is asymmetrical, sharp and spikey to represent his personality and the huge difference between the two brothers, and Scar and the hyenas have darker colors in their costumes as a way of showing that they are the villains. The actors portraying animals such as giraffes walk on 4 stills to represent how an animal would walk on 4 legs.


Here is some pictures of the original costumes. I will be using them as inspirations for my costume.

Genres: musical, action, drama, adventure.The stimulus for this assesment was "from stage to screen". The Lion King means a lot to me and I have a good understanding of it. Taking that into consideration, I decided to go with this musical.The Lion King started in the screens 1994 and was adapted to stage in 1997, three years after the movie.

Genre + stimulus

Movement analysis

Garth Fagan, the choreographer, had a big challenge choreographing The Lion King once most of the costumes cover a lot of the dancers' bodies. In this musical, everybody dances at some point.The movements are exciting and fresh, uplifting the audience.Garth tossed in a bit of ballet, modern, jazz and hip-hop as a way to show the audience a good range of dancing instead of just one style. After The Lion King, Broadway shows improved their usage of technique in choreographies thanks to Fagan (according to the choreographer).According to The Oakland Press, "Fagan was confident going in that he could create dances that would be both authentic and contemporary" once he had been to Africa several times before starting The Lion King. He tried to not only portay the animals but to also show the humans behind the costumes, and he definitely succeded. Garth Fagan won a Tony award for his work as a choreographer in the musical.


genius.com. (n.d.). Walt Disney Records (Ft. Lebo M) – He Lives in You. [online] Available at: https://genius.com/Walt-disney-records-he-lives-in-you-lyrics [Accessed 28 Jan. 2024].‌Grady, D. (2023). The Meaning Behind The Song: He Lives in You by Walt Disney Records. [online] Old Time Music. Available at: https://oldtimemusic.com/the-meaning-behind-the-song-he-lives-in-you-by-walt-disney-records/ [Accessed 2 Feb. 2024]. ‌The circle of life of ‘he lives in you’ from “the lion king” (2019) The Nerds of Color. Available at: https://thenerdsofcolor.org/2019/07/16/the-circle-of-life-of-he-lives-in-you/#:~:text=For%20those%20unfamiliar%2C%20“He%20Lives,matter%20what%20challenges%20you%20encounter. (Accessed: 07 February 2024). How did Julie Taymor come up with the mask designs for each lion king character? (no date) Playbill. Available at: https://playbill.com/article/how-did-julie-taymor-come-up-with-the-mask-designs-for-each-lion-king-character (Accessed: 07 February 2024). Wiegand, C. (2019). Julie Taymor: How We Made the Lion King Musical. The Guardian. [online] 22 Oct. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2019/oct/22/julie-taymor-how-we-made-the-lion-king-musical. [Accessed: 07 February 2024].Lion King Education. (2024). Lion King Education. [online] Available at: https://www.lionkingeducation.co.uk/interactive/meet-the-characters/# [Accessed 8 Feb. 2024].‌‌Group, G.G. | | F.M. (2022). Choreographer still feels the love every night for ‘The Lion King’. [online] The Oakland Press. Available at: https://www.theoaklandpress.com/2022/01/21/choreographer-still-feels-the-love-every-night-for-the-lion-king/ [Accessed 8 Feb. 2024].‌


In jazz and ballet, we have been talking a lot about balance. Our teachers are constantly reminding us to to keep our weight on our toes. I plan to do tricks in my choeography that require balance, so these notes are extremely. I have been practicing retire a lot recently so I can improve my balance in order to polsh the dance even more.

Creating a motif

I have started to work on my choreography for the song "He Lives In You". As it is only the first week, I am still not sure what my starting position will be, but I have a rough idea of how the dance will start. I want this choreography to have floor combos as well as leaps, so I started to think about my favourite moves and how to link them all together to fit the lyrics and the beat. I did not spend as much time rehearsing as I would like to because I injured my knee a couple of days ago, so I had to take it easy this week. I still managed to start my dance and write down some ideas that I had that I could not execute. My plan is to rest and take care of my injury so I can progress with my choreography next weekWWW: I felt pretty inspired and managed to start my dance + record my inicial motif.EBI: I was not in pain once I would be able to do a lot more.As the video shows, I start by focusing on movements at a low level because I want my performance to be a subtle imitation of a lion, which holds true to the theme of the choreography and the musical. I will be playing Simba and I intend to use facial expressions to convey meaning to the audience as I will not only be dancing but also telling a story.

week 1

WWW: I alocated a good time to rehearse during the week and managed to start working on my goal (to polish movements).EBI: my balance was better. Over the next few days, I will keep on working on exercises to improve it (such as: jazz fourth straight into passe and lift). For the technical classes, the teachers have been talking about leaps recently. Once I still have an injured knee and could not do any leaps, I observed and took notes to add to my performance later on. I noticed how our teachers mentioned the importance of thinking "up" when jumping and trying to almost float as much as possible. I have always struggled with leaps so observing my colleagues working on leapsand hearing the teacher`s feedbacks was very important for me - I intend to add leaps to my choreography at some point.

Developing the motif

This week, I set myself SMART targets: to develop my motif by polishing the movements that I have created so far and to improve my balance. When dancing contemporary, if the movements are not clean and polished the choreography can end up looking messy, so I am making sure to dedicate some time to do so. I also intend to use my flexibility a lot and improving my balance would be very useful once I would like to hold my leg up without tripping like I did in my last assesment.My rehearsal this week went much better since my knee does not hurt as much. I have created around 0:50 of the dance and I started to develop the motif that was created last week by changing arms, levels and pace. I am considering using the "developed version" towards the end of the choreography when the music has a faster pace, so I changed my arms movements to help me to move quicker and it fits the song perfectly. I also choreographed the end of the dance, where I will use a bit more of acting to represent Simba understanding that his father "lives with him" and is always by his side.

week 2

I have also been working on my second target: polishing my movements. For that, I dedicated a good part of my mornings during week 2 to carefully develop the end of my choreography. I am one of the few people that have done a lot so far, so I am in no rush to decide the end, but this is an idea.

This is a video of me practising a jazz combo that not only helps me with balance my flexibility as well.

I have been practising jazz exercises to work towards my target: to improve my balance.Part of the reason I work a lot on my balance is because when I have to perform in front of an audience, I get nervous and my balance seems to disappear.I really do not want that to keep happening. I want to be able to enjoy my movements and simply dance without worrying too much about my balance, and for that to happen I will continue to work on it.

SMART Targets

This week, I focused on the ending of my choreography; the final pose.I am very close to finishing my dance - I believe I have choreographed around 1:30, and I feel confident enough to start thinking about the final pose and how I will link those 30 seconds left to it. I want to tell a story with this choreography, so my idea is to end it with on the floor looking up with my right arm pointing up (like I thought last week), to represent Simba's understanding that his father is "up there" watching him.I am also going to ask some of my classmates to give me some feedback.WWW: I have been really good at arranging time to work on my dance this week and I am happy to be getting near the end.EBI: I focused a bit more on the start of the choreography instead of just the ending. I need to think about how I am going to start my dance.- For my solo, I will use the costume in the picture below. It was custom-made for an adaptation of The Lion King back in my hometown. It belongs to my best friend - luckily we wear the same size - so I borrowed it. It consists of a long sleeve top with a corset, leggings andsee-through orange trousers, and it was inspired by the original Broadway costumes.I will take my costume with me to college so I can keep practising by myself.


For techinical classes, the teachers gave me notes on my supporting leg when kicking. I usually forget to plie before kicking, which can end up making the pain in my knee worse. This feedback is really important once it can help me prevent future knee injuries.

week 3


Here there are two videos of me practising my SMART Target. My dance teacher asks us to do a little "bounce" every time we practise developé to make sure that we have our weight directly placed on our toes.That also helps me improve my balance and flexibility as well.I usually stay behind after we are done for the day so I can practise more and record some videos. I find it important to watch myself dancing so I can see what I am doing worng in order to improve.

SMART Targets

Choreography feedback

This week, we performed our solos for the first time for Steph (theory tutor) and each other.I was feeling very nervous. Having an audience can be quite scary, specially because I have never performed my piece to anyone and I often underestimate my skills.I recieved some lovely feedback from Steph and my colleagues. Our tutor mentioned how I should play around with "snappy" and strong movements in the beginning of my dance as most of it is very flowy and adding stronger movements makes it more enjoyable for the audience to watch. With contemporary, I tend to focus more on flowy and slow movements and I understand how that can get a bit boring after a while. After that feedback, I went into a studio to brainstorm some ideas so I could apply those notes into my choreography.Two of my colleagues said that I seem to connect a lot with the choreography that I am dancing, which I agree, and I try to show as much as I can my passion for dance. That is one of the reasons why contemporary is my favourite dance style - it allows me to express myself and connect with the audience."I've got goosebumps" might be my favourite feedback. To hear that means a lot to me once that is exactly what I am trying to get from the audience.WWW: I received some lovely feedback from colleagues and teachers.EBI: I have managed to find a starting position. It is the only thing currently missing in my dance piece.In techinical classes this week, my ballet teacher helped me with some questions I had about back exercises (back flexibility). I have been thinking of adding a layout into my dance, and I had questions about that. For the next week, I will work on my starting position and adding the layout.

week 4


I started to do some exercises with the trousers from my costume to get used to it a bit more. I continued to polish my movements this week and practice my balance a bit more.I see a good improvement from last week's practice. My balance feels better and I feel more confident with my choreography.

SMART Targets

Dress rehearsal

This week was our final opportunity to perfect and finish our solos.At this point, I feel confident and happy with what I came up with and look forward to presenting it to my tutors. My colleagues and I did a dress rehearsal and I had the chance to dance with my costume to make sure that everything is okay with it. The costume fits the dance perfectly and it feels very comfortable and secure. I also took the opportunity to record my colleagues dancing so they could analyse themselves. We gave feedback to each other, and they have said that my costume looks very nice and they like it. I decided to put my hair up in two small buns and for makeup I will do red dots around my face, inspired by the original Broadway cast hair and makeup.Last week, I thought about adding a layout to my choreography, but I gave up on that idea. I decided to stick with what I originally created. WWW: I finished my choeography 100%, managed to decide on a starting position and rehearsed with my costume. My starting position and my ending position are the same.EBI: we did not have to spend too much time looking for a free studio. With assesments coming, me and me colleagues struggled to find free studio to rehearse and that took a few minutes of our time that could have been used to dance.This week during our techinical classes, my ballet teacher (Gemma) gaveme feedback on my balance and my weight shift. She said that I still need topractice but there is an improvement. She has also taught me moreexercises to help me achieving my goal.

week 5


This was our last week before performing our solos, so I decided to rehearse and practice with my costume for most days.As I was happy with the improvement I achieved with my balance, I decided to focus a bit more on polishing my choreography.At this point I pactised almost every day in costume, even the balance exercises, just to make sure that I would not have any future problems while performing on it.

SMART Targets

Over the past 2 months, I have been very dedicated and focused on creating my solo, and after performing and analysing it, here are my considerations.Even though I was confident with my dance, I felt nervous - as I usually do before performing - but I made sure to enjoy myself as much as possible while dancing.After watching back the video, I analysed the choreography and took some notes of things that I could do to improve if I were to perform again, such as: ending the movement before starting a new one, using facial expressions a bit more , enjoy the space around and make sure to travel more. I would set those as future SMART Targets. I also noticed how I had a small problem with the trousers I was dancing in; they almost got stuck in my foot when I was doing a floor combination. I did not have any problems when rehearsing so I did not expect this to happen. I would also take this into consideration if I were to perform again, and changing the floor combination would make it less likely for that to happen again.In comparison to our last project, I see an improvement. Working towards my SMART Targets as well as rehearsing for this project has supported me in my technical classes as well.Researching about the musical and my chosen song has helped throughout this process, giving me a better understanding of the story behind the lyrics and assisting me when creating and developing my choreography. It has also taught me about the creative process behind the piece which supported me when deciding costume, hair and makeup.Overall, I am happy with my choreography and my progress since the first week but aware that I could have done better. I will keep working on this notes for future projects to make sure that I improve even more.