American choreographer and director Richard J. Hinds has recently embraced life in the UK. “I applied for my Global Talent Visa during the pandemic which was approved and decided to take the leap,” says Hinds. “I have been living in London now for two years, and I absolutely love it! I love calling this place home.”
Hinds is working as associate choreographer on Come From Away for its new UK tour that starts at the beginning of 2024. Hinds has a long association with Come From Away including as part of the team filming it for Apple TV. Hinds describes being in London working with the Come From Away cast when they won the Olivier for the work, as something he will never forget. “Many brilliant actors came in and out of the London company, and I got to meet and work with them all. They each brought their own unique spin to each character which helped keep the show fresh and alive.”
As an Associate Choreographer on Come From Away Hinds says he works alongside the choreographer in creating and teaching the show, but his real work starts after. “I am responsible for notating and documenting all of the choreographer’s work. For me, that includes making a ‘show bible’ which will have everything written down in it, a ‘stage write’ document which shows all of the formations and traffic, and, finally, making sure all of the material is documented on film so we have that as a reference. This is something I can’t do on my own, so I work closely with our Dance Captain to make sure we can achieve all this together.”
Hinds continues, “On Come From Away, I have been looking after that show for close to nine years now and have been fortunate to set all of the companies that have opened after Broadway. Choreographer Kelly Devine moved on to several other projects, so it was my responsibility to make sure her vision was maintained in every company that was set. It was a real privilege getting to have such ownership of Come From Away and to know that Kelly trusted me with her work.”
Hinds is also looking out for the way the work is performed and received. “It’s hard to judge a show on any one given night. Just because an audience is more subdued doesn’t mean they are enjoying it less… it could be that they are more of a ‘listening’ audience and they are there in the moment but not necessarily vocal in their reactions. I think it’s most important to me to make sure whatever I put on a stage is something I am proud of. Art is subjective, and everyone will have an opinion. Doesn’t mean someone is right and someone is wrong.”
Hinds is also working as associate choreographer for Elf, as it makes its West End return. “Getting to return to Elf this holiday season brings me such joy,” he says, “especially working with this incredible new cast. I met choreographer Liam Steel while working on Company on Broadway, and when he asked me to join Elf as his associate, I didn’t even have to think twice. Beyond being an amazing choreographer, we have become such close friends that it doesn’t even feel like work.”
He continues, “We have some brilliant new performers joining the Elf company, so it is going to feel fresh and news. Getting to sit in the audience and watch the joy that comes over everyone warms my heart. I will never forget last year when we got to the Finale and Santa began his sleigh ride journey over the audience. There was a young boy, maybe six or seven, who stood up out of his seat and just started waving at Santa. The joy in his eyes is exactly why I do what I do.”
For more information on the UK tour of Come From Away, visit comefromawaylondon.co.uk. For more information on Elf, visit elflondon.com. You can find out more about Richard J Hinds at www.richardjhinds.com.
By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.