Choreographer Kloe Dean on bringing Little Simz’s Introvert video to life
Little Simz has always been an artist with a singular vision.
Last week, when the north London rapper revealed the music video for anthemic new single Introvert, that vision crystallised into a rallying cry. The song itself begins with Simz reflecting on her own inner conflicts before her gaze turns outwards, to government corruption and negligence. It’s an ambitious song, and to interpret it physically, the video places Simz at the heart of iconic London venues – the Natural History Museum, Crystal Palace Park – alongside a cast of dancers whose choreography feels as expressive and potent as the brass section and marching drums that heighten and shape the track’s theatrical climaxes.
Kloe Dean is the London-based dancer, teacher and performance artist behind the soul-stirring choreography of Introvert. Specialising in dynamic movement, with a focus on hip-hop, funk and street dance styles, Dean perfectly captures the urgency of failed systems – both personal and societal – that are at the root of Introvert. We spoke to her about how she brought the song to life through dance.
How did you get involved in the project?
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Simz from a young age. I used to teach dance at a youth club she attended and we’ve crossed paths within our creative journeys over the years. Simz reached out to me to collaborate and we got down to it. She works so hard – I am truly grateful to know someone who puts in 100 percent and is open to push comfort zones creatively.
What was the creative process behind the video’s choreography?
The inspiration came from Simz and the song itself. I move by feeling – aside from wanting to please visually. So crazy as it sounds, the song told me what to do. Simz’s energy is so powerful already, on top of the masterpiece she’s created, which provided me with a catalyst for how I should create to compliment the song.
When you first heard Introvert, what did you take from it?
The song speaks to me about the battle of an introvert; of literally having so much going on inside but struggling to share it or get it out in order to move forward. It’s about knowing that you can actually embrace that introvertness as a superpower! As an introvert myself, I find I can be selectively extroverted – but it drains me. So I end up having to recharge in my introverted space again. But when I’m recharged it’s full steam ahead!
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Did Simz get involved in the choreography at all?
Yes, Simz is a great dancer! I started with Simz first then the choreography was built from that. She actually danced from start to finish and also made movement suggestions in the process. You don’t get to see it all in the video but she kills the choreo! And you can see in her solo shots – her groove and presence are just unstoppable.
What qualities were you looking for when casting dancers?
Honesty, power, resilience, passion and a sense of performance. To be able to connect with the song, be able to execute the choreography to a high standard and freestyle movement with motive and feeling.
What emotional space were you in when you worked on this?
A hungry, motivated and liberated space. I was ready to just go off and create as much magic as possible. Feeling is everything.
There are so many historical references in the video – how did those influence the choreography?
I didn’t necessarily use those references as a starting point but felt like they just enhanced this historical power embodied in the piece.
Courtesy of Kloe Dean
What is your relationship to the iconic London locations in the video, and how did you draw inspiration from them?
The two main locations were The Natural History Museum and Crystal Palace Park – two places that have been a huge part of my life. I had only visited the museum as a child on a school trip and was absolutely amazed by everything inside. To think I would later have the opportunity to create in that space is just crazy. Then Crystal Palace Park was actually the venue where I had won one of my first dance solo competitions, so a full circle really.
Was everything specifically choreographed or did the dancers also freestyle? If so, how do you approach that as the director of choreography?
The dancers also freestyled; this was a mix of directed freestyles outside of the choreography and set freestyles within the choreography.
Finally, what was the most important message you wanted to get across in the choreography?
I wanted to support Simz’s vision by utilising and collaborating with the greatness she already exudes within her music. To share the message of owning your introvertness, embodying your greatness and holding your power, no matter the circumstance.
Introvert is out now via Age 101