Interview with Stephanie Lake – Colossus


A Dance of Unity and Individualism at ΩHM Festival

Interview by Chris Duncan

Brisbane’s ΩHM Festival of Other Music, a celebration of avant-garde art and performance, is thrilled to present ‘Colossus‘ by the esteemed choreographer Stephanie Lake. Following her nationwide sold-out run of ‘Manifesto’, Lake brings this exhilarating contemporary performance to Brisbane, captivating audiences with a spectacle that melds 50 dancers into a singular, pulsating entity.

Lake’s vision for ‘Colossus‘ was born from her fascination with large casts and the power of mass movement. “I’ve always been drawn to the idea of as many dancers as could fit on stage,” Lake explains. Initially imagining a hundred dancers, she realized fifty allowed for the necessary space to truly express the choreography’s depth. This large ensemble, rather than restricting creativity, opened up a world of thematic exploration. Lake reflects, “The show started to express themes of control, power of the mass, mob behavior, and individualism. It was about interconnectedness.”

Choreographing such a large group was not without its challenges, particularly in managing the sheer volume and excitement during rehearsals. Lake had to develop unique signals to maintain focus, a testament to her innovative approach to directing large ensembles. The process also involved distilling an abundance of ideas into the most impactful movements, a task Lake approached with the precision of a skilled artist.

A key element of ‘Colossus‘ is its mesmerizing soundtrack by Robin Fox, a result of a long-standing collaboration between the composer and Lake. Their work has evolved in tandem, with the music and choreography intimately intertwined. Lake describes their collaboration as “braided together”, emphasizing the seamless integration of sound and movement in the performance.

Colossus‘ is not just a dance show; it’s a global phenomenon. Lake’s work has been embraced worldwide, with over 750 dancers from Geneva to Buenos Aires to Taipei taking part in the performance. In Brisbane, she’s excited to work with local talent, including dancers from the Queensland Ballet’s Pre-Professional & Jette Parker Young Artist Programs and Queensland University of Technology students. “It’s fascinating to observe the different ways dancers work around the world and how their cultural and training influences infuse the work with new meaning,” Lake shares.

The global response to ‘Colossus‘ has been overwhelming. Lake recounts the surprise of having the show’s trailer go viral, reaching nearly 5 million views. More so, the adaptability of the show during the pandemic, with rehearsals conducted via Zoom across continents, stands as a testament to the resilience and collaborative spirit of the arts community.

For aspiring choreographers dreaming of undertaking large-scale projects like ‘Colossus‘, Lake advises starting with smaller groups and being brave in sharing ideas. “You never know who’s listening and who might be able to support you to make it happen,” she encourages.

Alongside ‘Colossus’, the ΩHM Festival, running from 28 February to 20 April 2024 at Brisbane Powerhouse, features an array of other groundbreaking performances. These include Chunky Move’s ‘Universal Estate’ and the Australasian Dance Collective’s ‘THREE’, each offering unique perspectives on contemporary life and the human condition.

This festival, supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, is a vibrant showcase of innovative art, inviting audiences to explore the boundaries of music, dance, and visual art. Tickets are available, with a presale starting at 10 am local time on Thursday 9 November. For more information and to be part of this extraordinary journey, visit

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