Some simple stage truths

BOOK OF MORMON: Loredo Malcolm (up-stage left) is a Ugandan villager in the long-running hit still at the Sydney Lyric Theatre after two years.
BOOK OF MORMON: Loredo Malcolm (up-stage left) is a Ugandan villager in the long-running hit still at the Sydney Lyric Theatre after two years.

In the competitive world of dance not many people make it but LoredoMalcolm, 34, has toured the world as a dancer most of his life.

He’s been in The Book of Mormon for almost two years and was in The Lion King, Chicago, Hairspray, Wicked, Mame, Follies and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

He shares refreshing insights about the sacrifices and challenges of life on stage. 

“When I first learnt dance I was 9, I was still in Jamaica and dancing for young boys was not a go-to thing at the time. I was doing it because I enjoyed it, not because I thought I’d be where I am today,” he said. 

Loredo Malcolm founded LOcREaDO Dance Company and has directed over 12 professional dance shows here and in China.

Loredo Malcolm founded LOcREaDO Dance Company and has directed over 12 professional dance shows here and in China.

“Jamaica is a Third World country and it’s a very homophobic place so when men dance certain genres it’s seen as feminine and you’d be looked down on, or abused. I was, and it’s not something I talk about a lot but most male dancers would’ve experienced it from other kids.

“It was the result of a lack of communication and knowledge about something that’s not for everyone. My father died when I was young and I was brought up by my mum. We grew up in a religious home but my mum never had a problem with dance because it made me happy.” 

Despite a hard start, he’s had a long career in performing and doesn’t expect to give up any time soon. 

“​I do believe you can dance however long you want or until your body gives up. My focus is on a contemporary lyrical style which is harsher on the body so eventually my body won’t be able to withstand what I’m doing now. I’ve never had major injuries, just minor shoulder problems, but I’m still going fine so it’s possible.

“I’ve had my own dance company for close to 10 years now. The backup plan would be to pursue my company because I don’t need to physically dance and be in a show.”

However, he said it can be a different matter when passion diminishes. 

“I’m dealing with that right now. I think people confuse it with not being grateful but it’s a matter of realising your passion is being challenged.

“The Book of Mormon has been going for two years. It’s a brilliant show but when you’re in a show for that long, the challenge is being able to keep doing the same show eight days a week. You have to find the excitement and passion every night so the people paying to see the show get the full experience.”

The only difference is a new audience each night.

“Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost my fire and I’m not my usual excited self. It’s just something we all go through at some point as humans. If anyone says they don’t, it’s because they’re on a high because it’s their first time performing or perhaps they’re just not being completely truthful.

“Other small changes which help mix it up are when someone’s sick or injured and we have a group called Swing which are our understudies and they’ll go and have a refreshing interpretation of the show. That can really shake up the mood on stage.

“We find moments where we interact with each other on stage or the audience and that’s fun – in one of my last shows there was a woman who was laughing so much she choked. It was so hard not to laugh!”

Another recent struggle is the lack of free time which comes with the commitment of being a performer. 

The Book of Mormon is about to go on tour next year to other states in Australia and I’ve been offered a place. I’ve toured all my life but the past four years I’ve had a husky and only yesterday I had to make a post on Facebook to try to find another home for him because I live alone and he’s there by himself.

“I don’t think it’s fair to put him through that and I don’t think it’s the healthiest thing. He’s had to fly with me and travel. A close friend of mine is adopting him now and I’m going to lose him tomorrow. That’s an example of what my life can be like and constantly having to adjust to a new city and atmosphere.

“It’s very challenging and difficult to just pack up and move. I love what I do but after The Book of Mormon I need to take time and feel like a regular person again, ya’ know?”

He explained one of the keys to overcoming these challenges. 

“I remind myself I have a job, I get paid a professional wage, I’m in this show and I can pay the bills doing what I love. The bigger picture is the people paying to watch this show.

“After Chicago finished I looked for work for seven months. Previously I’d gone from show to show but there was nothing coming up for me to audition for so I kept hustling and it was scary. It was a wakeup call and one of my most challenging times as a performer. Once a job finishes you’re back to square one. That was about four and a half years ago.”

As a dance teacher he said he tries to teach his students industry home-truths. 

“The competitiveness is not becoming any better because there’s a limit in jobs. What I teach is if you consistently don’t get a job you want or audition and don’t get them, create your own work.

“Market yourself and make yourself a product and try to do something where you can contribute to the industry. I needed to make sure if there comes a time where i can’t wok or get jobs there’ something I can fall back on.”

In 2009 Loredo made it into the top nine dancers on Channel 10’s So You Think You Can Dance

He said it was a good way to market himself. 

“The way it’s showcased on TV makes it very fascinating for dancers and they get hungry for it. I don’t regret it – I probably wouldn’t do it again but I’m grateful because it gave me good publicity. I didn’t win but it helped me start my company and gave me recognition in the dance industry.

“The truth is a show like that is mainly for ratings. It’s not genuine to the actual dancer and it’s not all about how good you are, it’s more so about how good you are at entertaining viewers. I remember when I auditioned for The Voice, I remember one of the questions on the form was if you’d experienced any hardships in your life.

“They plan to share your story so people can see you coming from a hard life into a new life and I don’t think the focus should be all about that.”

He hopes people come to see The Book of Mormon, but warned people that it’s not a family sit-down. 

“It’s comedically racist but not in a negative way. There’s a lot of black and white references in the show but I knew what I was getting involved in and its context, being by the creators of South Park. We’re all adults so we have a mature understanding it’s just for fun and laughter. 

“​It’s a very unusual show which is why it’s so successful. People should research before they decide to see it. We’ve had walk-outs in the past two years and people have come up and said it’s so rude and outrageous.

“There’s swearing, so I think for a religious person, it’s probably not the show for them. You need to have an open mind. It’s outrageous, crude, funny, but there’s still a strong message there a lot of people get from it. People should go see it for the experience. It’s very unusual, it’s very funny, just be prepared to be blown away.”

  • The Book of Mormon runs to mid-January at the Sydney Lyric Theatre.
This story Simple stage truths first appeared on Liverpool City Champion.