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Spotlight on Freelancers: Lanre Malaolu

Spotlight on Freelancers is our interview series dedicated to highlighting the incredible range of jobs that exist in the arts. You can read more interviews here or listen to the Stratford East Podcast. Lanre Malaolu is an award-winning director, choreographer, writer and performance artist working across theatre and film. Amongst his many credits are Othello (English Touring Theatre), BLUE/ORANGE (Birmingham Rep), The Pulverised (Arcola), and in 2016, Lanre starred in our production of Atiha Sen Gupta's COUNTING STARS.

What is a choreographer?
This question feels like a bit of an existential one….

A choreographer in my eyes is someone who uses the vocabulary of movement to tell an emotionally connected story. There is a depth of human truth that movement unlocks and reveals that transcends words. It’s a choreographer’s job to dig that truth out.

What is the choreographer or movement director's role within a wider creative team on a show?
Everything is in service to the work and emotional truth. So it’s about working with the actors, performers, dancers, creative team in an organic way to figure out how all the pieces come together with the movement to tell the story we want to tell. This changes from project to project.

How did you get into choreography?
I’ve always been interested in modern dance, namely the work of Pina Bausch, as well as hip hop dance theatre. I ran a dance company which came to an end some years ago. Since then, I work as a director, choreographer and writer using movement as the bedrock to the work I make.

What are the routes into choreography?
I’d say creating your own work is one of the best routes in. And the great thing about this route is that it will never go away. Just get up and try stuff. Film it, and keep finding your creative/physical voice.

What do you think makes a good choreographer?
Someone who is deeply interested in the stories we all tell physically.

Who or what inspires you?
Kendrick Lamar, Donald Glover and Pina Bausch.

What type of work do you like to create?
Work that fuses movement, dialogue with bold storytelling structures.

Lanre recommends:
Dancer/Choreographer: Joshua Nash, an incredible dancer and performer I had the pleasure of recently working with for my first music video, which you can watch here.
Book: The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
Album: DAMN by Kendrick Lamar

Find out more about Lanre's work on his Twitter, Insta and website:

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