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  • Writer's pictureKristyn Burtt

Lorin Latarro Choreographs Her Broadway Path From Dancer to Creative

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

Choreographer Lorin Latarro knows what it takes to sustain a career in the theatre world. As a veteran of 14 Broadway shows as a dancer, Latarro has made her mark as a choreographer for almost a decade. Her work is currently represented on Broadway in the show, Waitress

That’s not the only place theatergoers have seen her work this year. She choreographed Shakespeare in the Park's Twelfth Night last summer. The show garnered her a 2019 Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Choreography. In addition, she did Roundabout Theatre Company’sMerrily We Roll Along earlier this year. Her work on that show was honored with Lucille Lortel Award and Chita Rivera Award nominations.

Latarro isn't going to rest on her laurels, though. She's busy prepping Almost Famous, the stage adaptation of the 2000 Cameron Crowe film. It will have its world premiere at The Old Globe in San Diego beginning this fall.

Latarro spoke with Dance Dish about her recent successes, her advice to dancers who want to make the transition to choreographer and a sneak peek at Almost Famous.

Dance Dish: What was your greatest challenge working on Twelfth Night? What was your greatest success?

Lorin Latarro: Lear deBessonet came up with the idea for public theatre, called Public Works, so every New Yorker has the right to be on the Delacorte Theater stage [in Central Park]. So you're getting people from all walks of life to connect with.

The biggest challenge is making them feel comfortable. The stage is as much theirs as it is Meryl Streep's. That's really what we say — if Meryl Streep was on the stage at the Delacorte Theater often — we can be, too. And we treat them the same way.

One of the biggest challenges is making them believe they belong on that stage and then making them feel confident by giving them moves that are exciting for the audience to watch, and at the same time, things that they can do well.

I think that the success is when you see 200 people on the stage together doing the same move, the same way and acting the lyrics and singing the song. It's thrilling! When was the last time you saw that? Even the Metropolitan Opera doesn't have 200 people onstage at the same time. It's an extraordinary group of people and to watch their growth over the five-week rehearsal period is really what theater is all about for me.

DD: What were the challenges and successes for Merrily We Roll Along?

Lorin: Ironically, all the same things as Twelfth NightIn Merrily, I had to get five actors, who aren't dancers, to dance. I had to make sure the movement was connected to the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim and connected to the psychology of the characters and the subtext of what they're thinking. I'm pushing the story along.

DD: What was your transition like from going from a Broadway dancer to a choreographer?

Lorin: For me, it always overlapped because I was always choreographing while I was dancing on Broadway. I was always assisting somebody for a show or a movie. Then I started wanting to do it on my own and I stopped wanting to perform. I enjoyed being in the rehearsal studio more and more. 

The transition was creatively easy. I think the hardest part for me was getting people, who already knew me as a dancer, to see me as a creative. It took a little while. I think as people started to see my work and people saw me run a room, it finally started to shift. I think it's hard for people to shift their perception.

DD: What is the landscape like for female choreographers in the theatre industry?

Lorin: Here's what I think. I think having a female creative on the creative team is important. I'm doing Almost Famous right now with director Jeremy Herrin, Cameron Crowe is in the room and Tom Kitt is writing the music. Every once in a while, I have something to offer where I can say — As a woman, I'm not sure that’s realistic. They often agree because they never thought of it that way. So I think the most important thing is to have somebody in the room that represents 50% of the population because being a woman is singular.

DD: What advice do you have for dancers who want to make a transition to the creative side?

Lorin: Say yes to everything. I think a lot of people get stuck on titles. It's great to have the title of associate choreographer and I know that's important to be seen that way, but so is experience. 

If it means being an assistant to an associate first, if it means being in the room, just helping to create something first — say yes. Continue to say yes. You will gather knowledge and information, and sooner or later, you will move up the ladder. Apprenticing is important because it allows you to throw out ideas with zero responsibility.

DD: What has your experience been like so far on Almost Famous?

Loring: I love to do original pieces because you get to decide how [the show] behaves. So it's really fun. We're moving furniture around and David Crosby of Crosby, Stills and Nash just walks into rehearsal to see Cameron Crowe — so it's pretty chill. [She laughs.]

I think we will capture the magic that was on film. I think we have an incredible cast and we're not copying the film, but it certainly captures its essence. We have Cameron Crowe in the room. The story is autobiographical, so there's no way to fail because we have the actual people in the room who understand the essence of it.

DD: You’ve had incredible success so far, what is the one goal you still have yet to achieve?

Lorin: I would love to do a really big dance show like Singin' in the Rain or Kiss Me, Kate — something that has style and really, really dances. It would be so great to go back to my roots and choreograph up a big, giant dance number. It would be so fun.


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