Staff Spotlight: Lucy Hind

By Joseph Foote

Posted

Lucy Hind 2

Lucy Hind

Lucy Hind is an award winning Choreographer and Movement Director. Her extensive portfolio has lead her to work on Broadway and various International Tours. She has worked for a host of prestigious theatres including The Old Vic, The RSC and The Globe. Her TV credits include the BBC, CBeebies and Amazon Prime.

Lucy recently joined Leeds Conservatoire as a Musical Theatre senior lecturer with a specialism in performance projects and contextual studies. 

Have you always wanted to be involved in dance? How did you start making steps towards a career in choreography?

Yes, I danced as a child and did Jazz and ballet, it’s always been part of my life. I thought I’d end up dancing but am so delighted to have found this path. I started my career working with Slung Low, an ensemble theatre company, around 15 years ago, we made devised work and I had the pleasure of learning alongside some of the best artists I know. I started work in theatre, doing small snippets of dance or movement in plays, Shakespeares and large scale community work, and often just doing the scene changes! I was on the team on Choreographers of the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony and I learned a HUGE amount. I only then moved into Musical Theatre. I think Choreographers and Movement Directors are excellent problem solvers and that’s the best part of my job.

You have choreographed for stage and screen. How do the two production types differ?

There’s more time in theatre, TV is very pressured and you have to think very fast between takes. It’s a constantly shifting medium and you have to stay calm and keep the trust of your team. Once that final take is done you can’t fix it! Live TV is also very challenging. I’ve not done nearly as much TV as I have done theatre but I do love the variety.

Theatre is a living beast with a live audience, I love how we can make changes in response to our audience in previews, but that can also be dangerous. You have to be very clear about what you are making or you’d never get your feet on the ground and your actors would suffer.

I love the maths of TV, I love seeing it through the lens and finding ways to make it work, it’s always surprising. I love the community of theatre, watching the audience breathe our show in every night, seeing the actors continue to amaze me. 

Lucy Hind 3

What was a day in the life like working on a Broadway production and what did you learn from your time working on Girl from the North Country?

Broadway was incredible. We rehearsed at 42nd St Studios in the Jerome Robbins studio, it looked out across Times Sq and we could see the snow fall. Rehearsals were a joy, because we had done the show before at the Public Theatre, we knew most of the company and because Broadway is so exciting, everyone worked so hard. A day was pretty much like any day of rehearsals, warm up, learning choreography and fitting it into scenes. I had a lovely apartment just next to our theatre, The Belasco. 

The Belasco was where Houdini frequently performed, there is a large pit under the stage and it’s said that it was there to house his elephant as part of his magic trick. We turned it into a Green Room. Bob Dylan sent us some bottles of his whiskey and we all had a drink together in Houdini’s pit in previews. Very special. 

I learned the difference between making ‘Ego choices’ and ’Show choices’. By that i mean, i got caught up a little in the pressure of being a ‘Broadway choreographer’ and whatever I thought that meant. Everyone takes about the Tony’s and ticket sales and making our ‘mark’. For a brief rehearsal or two I went about making some changes, tried to make my work look more ‘Broadway’, whatever that meant. Luckily the Director and I saw right through it and it didn’t fit with our subtle and beautiful show, so I cut them all. They would have been ‘Ego’ choices, for me as Choreographer, not for the show.

What was it like experiencing the production live for the first time?

 On Broadway? I sat in the stalls and felt an enormous rush or relief and joy as the lights went down. As the applause started at the end, my head was swirling with notes and changes, so I was too busy to appreciate it. But on Opening Night I had a good cry with my agent in the stalls. He’s been with me for 10 years. 

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What are your main considerations when you’re choreographing a new piece - do you have any particular processes when creating new work?

The story. The director’s vision and the actors I have. How to make the best of those three. I don't have any particular processes, new musicals are a gift. But you have to trust your Director and team. And they have to trust you. You can’t hold on too tightly to anything, be willing to throw everything out and start again. A writer once told me that he thought it was unfair that the choreographer’s first draft of everything is always in the room in front of everyone, and that’s true to a certain extent.

Being brave enough to go all out on a style or moment and then step back and admit you got it wrong allows you to work out how to get it right. Conor McPherson always said to me in moments of panic when I had no idea what to do “You’ll know it when you see it” and I learned to trust my skill and instinct working with him. Because he trusted me. 

What advice would you give to aspiring performers and choreographers?

See as much work as you can afford to. Ask to assist people who inspire you. Be able to articulate what you love and what you don’t. Being able to talk succinctly and honestly will get you into most conversations that open up doors. Be vulnerable, in your work and in the room. Earning the trust of your actors is the hardest and most important thing you can do for a show. 

What key attributes are you looking for when working with performers that make your life as a choreographer easy?

Most musicals I work on don’t actually hire ‘dancers’ as such, and my style comes from a much more naturalistic place. I actually often find myself saying to actors who go into ‘dancer mode’ to “Stop dancing”. I am looking for truth in the way that they move. Truth in character, impulse and the ability to move with clarity and ease. So I’m far more interested in actors and dancers who are willing to take a risk, maybe feel a little silly but trust that I have plan and I know what I’m doing!

By Joseph Foote

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