Paul Harris (choreographer)
St. Helens, England
Paul Harris is an English choreographer, dance teacher and movement director in film, television and theatre.
His notable works include the famous laser scenes for Catherine Zeta-Jones in the movie Entrapment, the BAFTA Award-winning Bleak House and the wand fight sequences in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. An interactive hologram of Harris is a permanent feature of the Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden where Harris is described by Warner Bros. as being "the world's only wand combat choreographer".
In the theatre, he choreographed the 50th-anniversary production of John Osborne's The Entertainer at London's Old Vic. He is also an author of dance books, having written Salsa and Merengue – The Essential Step by Step Guide and several dance syllabi for British awarding bodies in dance. Harris is an acknowledged authority and leading choreographer in historical dance, period dance, tango, salsa, swing dance, ballroom dancing, Latin American dancing and theatre dance. He is the winner of the 2008 Carl Alan Award for choreography.
Born in St Helens, Harris began dancing at the age of eight and as a dancer, was a successful Juvenile and Junior competitor in ballroom dancing. He won the British Open Championships at the Blackpool Dance Festival in both Ballroom and Latin American dancing, as well becoming 3 times English Champion, United Kingdom, International and West European Champion and placing in the first 3 of every major competition, including the World Championship as an adult.
On turning professional, he studied jazz dance, tap dancing, historical dance and classical ballet and won the British Exhibition (Theatre Arts) title. He retired from competitive dancing to study acting at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London and on graduating, he played leading roles in British television and theatre, including major national tours of three West End productions. His roles during this period included A-Rab in West Side Story, Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird, Edmund in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, William H. Bonney in Billy The Kid, Scranton Slim in Guys and Dolls and Catsmeat in Snow White with the late Marti Caine.
In the 1990s, he played a role as a Latin American dance champion on the BBC television drama Casualty, for which he choreographed the dance sequences himself. This was spotted by a leading UK dance agent and led to his career in choreography.
As a choreographer
In 1997, Harris was asked to look at a script for a British movie with a view to choreographing the dance sequences. Following a single conversation with the director, he realised that combining his two backgrounds of dancing and acting was the direction in which he should take his career. Since then, Paul Harris has become one of the UK's most prolific choreographers and dance instructors in film and television. He has also been responsible for the choreography on several big budget movies, including Entrapment, Inkheart, The Other Boleyn Girl, Far From The Madding Crowd, Crooked House and he created the physical language and choreography for the wand-to-wand combat sequences in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Harris has also choreographed many of British television's most highly acclaimed, award-winning dramas of the last decade including Bleak House, The Way We Live Now, To the Ends of the Earth, Jane Eyre, Poirot, A Touch of Frost, William and Mary and six years as the choreographer for the hit UK comedy My Family starring Robert Lindsay. This led to Lindsay requesting that Harris be the choreographer of the 2007 critically acclaimed revival of John Osborne's The Entertainer. Other notable credits in theatre include being the choreographer of "Liberty", the first co-production of Shakespeare's Globe theatre and being a guest dance tutor for the Royal Shakespeare Company on Two Gentlemen of Verona, as well as choreographing productions such as A Family Affair, The Rivals, As You Like It and David Copperfield. He has continued to choreograph for television during this time, including dramas like Lost in Austen, Da Vinci's Demons and Call The Midwife.
Harris co-choreographed Disney's The Cheetah Girls 2 with its director Kenny Ortega, having been brought in at Ortega's request, specifically to choreograph the tango sequence which was shot in Barcelona. The tango Harris choreographed, was described by Ortega in a Dcom Extra interview, as "the most exciting and demanding dance sequence he had ever shot". Other notable directors he has worked with are Jon Amiel and David Yates, with whom Harris has worked four times. Among the notable actors Harris has created choreography for are Catherine Zeta-Jones, Scarlett Johansson, Gary Oldman, Sam Neill, Natalie Portman, Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes.
As a dance teacher, Harris has devised the dance module of the BA Hons (Acting) and MA (Acting)at four London drama schools. He is a dance tutor at The Actors Center in London and teaches dance at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (University of London), Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts (University of East Anglia) and the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts (University of East London). He was the main dance coach in the "Kick boxer to Dancer" episode of the BAFTA-award-winning Faking It and he has coached and choreographed for world champions in showdance, salsa, ballroom dancing and Argentine tango including several of the professional dance teachers from British television's Strictly Come Dancing on which he has appeared.
Harris is a Fellow and Examiner of the United Kingdom Alliance of Professional Teachers of Dancing (UKA), as well as an Honorary member of the British Association of Teachers of Dancing (BATD). He also teaches internationally, particularly in South East Asia, where he has helped to develop dance in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. In recognition of this work, Harris was made an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Philippine Professional Dance Teachers Association and he has appeared on as a guest dance expert on television in England and in Asia, to discuss choreography and dance styles as diverse as salsa, Argentine tango, Lindy Hop, West Coast Swing, historical dance and dancesport
He has adjudicated at many international dance championships, including the prestigious Blackpool Dance Festival and he is a licensed adjudicator with both the World DanceSport Federation and the World Dance Council
Salsa and Merengue – The Essential Step by Step Guide was written by Paul Harris and published in 1998. It is considered a definitive work of its kind in the dance industry and is the basis of the syllabi Harris has written in merengue, salsa and mambo, for the International Dance Teachers Association (IDTA), the British Association of Teachers of Dancing (BATD), the National Association of Teachers of Dancing (NATD) and the United Kingdom Alliance of Professional Teachers of Dancing (UKA). The book played a pivotal role in the history of salsa in the UK particularly in the formation of the (then) new Club Dance Division of the UKA. This development, for the first time, enabled teachers of salsa in Britain, to gain a recognised professional teaching qualification. In addition to this, Harris wrote the UKA's course guide for drama schools in 19th & 20th century social dance and co-founded their historical dance Faculty.
In 1996, Paul Harris founded London Theatre of Ballroom, during which they enjoyed a critically acclaimed six-month run at London's Café de Paris. They are dedicated to preserving and progressing ballroom dancing as performing art and their repertoire, choreographed entirely by Paul Harris, consists of shows based on swing dance, tango, Latin dancing, vintage dance and American smooth (Hollywood style partner dancing). They remain Britain's only ballroom based dance/theatre company.
Television dramas and films
TV features, reality shows and appearances
|Harry Potter Studio Tour (Permanent Hologram)||Warner Bros.||Laura Watson|
|The Supersizers Go (1920s Dance Consultant)||BBC||Kate Scholefield|
|Faking It (Mentor) (BAFTA winner 2002 & 2003)||Channel 4||Jonathan Smith|
|Gloria Hunniford's Open House (Salsa Feature)||Channel 5||Personal appearance|
|Granada Reports – Look North (Salsa feature)||ITV||Personal appearance|
|11th Hour (Tango and Swing feature)||ITV||Personal appearance|
|The Entertainer||Old Vic||Sean Holmes|
|Gaslight (Period Movement Coach)||Old Vic||Peter Gill|
|The Importance of Being Ernest||Theatre Royal Bath||Peter Gill|
|Romeo and Juliet||Oxford Shakespeare Co.||Guy Retallack|
|Two Gentlemen of Verona (Dance Coach)||Royal Shakespeare Co.||Fiona Buffini|
|Flight of the Swan (Movement Coach)||Royal Opera House (Linbury)||Rob Swain|
|A Family Affair||Theatre Royal Bath No.1 Tour||Andy De La Tour|
|Wallflowering||National Tour||Jennie Darnell|
|Tommy||Royal Academy of Music||Guy Retallack|
|A Christmas Carol||Bridge House Theatre||Guy Retallack|
|As You Like It||Central||Martin Wylde|
|Redemption Over Hammersmith Broadway||LAMDA||Max Key|
|Dancing at Lughnasa||Mountview||Andrew Jarvis|
|The Rivals||Mountview||Glen Walford|
|The American Clock||Mountview||Sean McLevy|
|David Copperfield||ALRA||Stuart Wood|
|Mill on the Floss||ALRA||Janette Smith|
|Erpingham Camp||ALRA||Finetime Fontayne|
Commercials and music videos
|My Name (McLean)||Atlantic Records||Nick Bartleet|
|Grease is the Word||ITV Creative||Simon Mitchell|
|Trafalgar Square Big Dance||British Tourist Authority||Michael Geigan|
Stage and trade shows
|2004||Fox Promotional Screen Test at Cannes Film Festival||20th Century Fox and Stella Artois||Geraldine Maloney|
|2002||London Boat Show||Sealine||Paul Harris|
|1999||London Boat Show||Sealine||Paul Harris|
|1998–2006||Miss Philippine||Alfanti Productions||Paul Harris|
|1997||Miss China||CNE||Peter Chen|
|The Delfont Awards||Grosvenor Productions||Alex Clayton|
|The Half Monty||Inch High Productions||Paul Harris and Warwick Davis|
- "Dance coach Paul is a Haydock lad". St Helens Star. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- "Warner Bros. Studio Tour London". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- "A Celebration Of Harry Potter Returns To Universal Orlando – Coaster Nation". coaster-nation.com. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- "Famous Dance Choreographers - A Knowledge Archive". A Knowledge Archive. 30 March 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Interview | Choreograaf Paul Harris". janeausten.nl. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "About Paul Harris". paulharris.uk.com. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "Liberty / Shakespeare's Globe". shakespearesglobe.com. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "Dance coach Paul is a Haydock lad (From St Helens Star)". sthelensstar.co.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "Edna Ledesma: Grace under pressure | Health And Family, Lifestyle Features, The Philippine Star | philstar.com". philstar.com. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "Paul Harris mentors local dance scholars - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos". showbizandstyle.inquirer.net. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "Video". paulharris.uk.com. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "Scrutelle". scrutelle.info. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "Home". wdcdance.com. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- Paul Harris (1999). Salsa and Merengue: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. ISBN 9781850586999.
- "IDTA (Sales) Ltd :: Books :: STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO SALSA, MAMBO, MERENGUE BY PAUL HARRIS". idta.co.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 June 2009. Retrieved 13 September 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Salsa & Merengue Society - A History of Salsa: Resources". Salsa-merengue.co.uk. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
- "Salsa & Merengue Society - A History of Salsa: Salsa in the UK". Salsa-merengue.co.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "London Theatre of Ballroom". Londontheatreofballroom.com. Retrieved 27 August 2015.