On the Couch with Stephanie Lake

SF24 Stephanie Lake photo by Pedro GreigWho is Stephanie Lake?
I’m a choreographer and the artistic director of Stephanie Lake Company. I’ve also just been appointed Resident Choreographer of The Australian Ballet. I was a dancer for many years and I’m making a rare return to the stage in Genevieve Lacey and Gideon Obarzanek’s Soliloquy in Sydney Festival this month. I was born in the Canadian prairies, grew up in Tassie and have lived in Melbourne/Naarm for over 25 years.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
Probably some other kind of performer or creative person – a writer, actor, designer, something like that. It’s in my bones. If I wasn’t in the creative field I would like to be working in a job that directly benefits people – humanitarian or advocacy work. I looked at my Grade 1 diary recently and I wanted to be either a dancer or a mailman when I grew up. There’s still time to become a postie. I maintain that would be quite a nice job.

Who inspires you and why?
The unbelievably talented dancers that I work with inspire me no end. The amazing collaborators. They all take tiny sparks of ideas and turn them into burning flames. Other choreographers around the world who are making interesting work also inspire me.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Raise kind, smart children. I think we’ve done a pretty great job of that so far. I’m very proud of my daughters. I also hope to give audiences a transportive, enlivening experience when they come to see my shows. And for all of the people I work with to have the best time.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Easy. Wye River on the Great Ocean Road. We go there every summer and the ritual is really wonderful. Books, swimming, cooking, puzzles, games, staring into the trees and sky. No internet, no phones. The art islands in Japan are also highly recommended. The Teshima gallery blew our minds.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
A cafe in Fitzroy North. A drive down to Mornington Peninsula for wildlife spotting.

What are you currently reading?
Just finished Prima Facie by Suzie Miller and now onto The Hummingbird Effect by Kate Mildenhall – both great Australian writers and both of them Christmas presents. This time of year is reading time for me. Heaven.

What are you currently listening to?
Birds chirping, Joni Mitchell, podcasts like Armchair Expert, my partner Robin’s ‘smooth playlist’ – it’s a winner.

Happiness is?
Being content. Closeness with my family. Breakthroughs in the rehearsal studio. The elation side stage after a fantastic show and and audience.

What does the future hold for you?
This year I’m creating a full-length, main-stage work for The Australian Ballet called Circle Electric that premieres at the Sydney Opera House. Manifesto is touring to Auckland Arts Festival, Teatro del Canal in Madrid and La Comete in Chalon des Champagnes France. Colossus tours to Brisbane Powerhouse, Seoul Performing Arts Festival and hopefully Sao Paulo.

Stephanie Lake Company’s new major work The Chronicles is in development across the year, ready to premiere in early 2025. I’m developing a mass-scale participation project with Adelaide Festival and presenting round two of ESCALATOR – SLC’s season of new commissioned works by emerging choreographers. Plus more, yet to be announced. 2024 is huge!

Stephanie can be seen in a thrilling rare performance in Soliloquy – which will be presented at City Recital Hall on Wednesday 17 January, as part of the 2024 Sydney Festival. For more information, visit: www.sydneyfestival.org.au for details.

Image: Stephanie Lake – photo by Pedro Greig