Actress Sonoya Mizuno on the Choreographer Who Changed the Way She Moved

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Sonoya is wearing a satin double-breasted coat with ruffle detail by Christopher Kane. Stockings by Falke. And lace-up sandals with bow by Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne WestwoodPhotography by Casper Sejersen, Styling by Nell Kalonji

A classically trained dancer first and foremost, Mizuno recalls the encounter with Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián that has stayed with her ever since

“I used to be a dancer. I had classical training at London’s Royal Ballet School and my first job was with the Semperoper Dresden ballet company in Germany. The first programme they put on after I joined included Petite Mort by the Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián. I’d never seen it before, and was so struck by its perfect fusion of classical ballet and modern dance. I wasn’t performing but I watched the rehearsals and became obsessed with one of the principal dancers, Natalia Sologub. She had this innate sexuality and she danced with every fibre of her body. That’s the thing about Kylián’s work: there’s such a sense of abandonment to the movement; a beautiful realism, unobscured by costumes or sets. It made me see dance differently: I understood that we are our own instruments and can use every part of our bodies and souls in our art.”

When British-Japanese actress Sonoya Mizuno shifted from dance to film, she resolved to use her extensive training to inform her work on screen. Serendipitously, her debut role in Alex Garland’s sci-fi thriller Ex Machina required her to communicate almost entirely through gesture. A year later she would be dancing alongside Emma Stone in La La Land. The 29-year-old’s projects for 2018 – including roles in Garland’s Annihilation, the film adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s novel Crazy Rich Asians, and Cary Fukunaga’s fantastical Netflix series Maniac – are less musically inclined but Mizuno started each day’s shoot with a full-body warm-up, to galvanise every finger and toe.

Hair: Blake Erik at Statement Artists using Hairstory. Make-up: Susie Sobol at Julian Watson Agency. Set design: Ian Salter at Frank Reps. Digital tech: Frederike Heide. Photographic assistants: Christopher Parente and Max Bernetz. Styling assistants: Rebecca Perlmutar, Kat Banas and Athena Zammit. Make-up assistant: Ayaka Nihei. Set-design assistant: George de Lacey. Production: Artistry London. Post-production: Studio Private

This article originally featured in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of AnOther Magazine, which is available to buy now.