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Biography of Robyn ORLIN

South Africa > Arts : Robyn ORLIN

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Biography :

Robyn Orlin born (1955) is a renowned South African artist. She has been acknowledged for her choreography and contribution to the arts by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2009.Sarkozy has made Orlin a Knight of the Ordre national du Mérite – the French national Order of Merit.


Robyn Orlin is one of South Africa's most controversial and provocative choreographers and performance artists, redefining both forms of the art in the country through her involvement in the field over the past 20 years.

She has worked in diverse media, including television, film, theatre, dance and opera as a choreographer, producer, dancer and teacher.

Orlin spends her time divided between living in Berlin, where her husband Oliver Schmitz makes films, in her hometown Johannesburg, and on the road touring with her work.

Fulbright Fellowship

Orlin started off working in downtown Johannesburg's Market Theatre precinct, a hub of artistic life in the city, especially among anti-apartheid activists. She joined the Federated Union of Black Artists' Academy, where she created a contemporary dance section and choreographed and facilitated works during the 1980s.

In 1990 she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in the USA where she attended The School of Art Institute of Chicago. She returned in 1994 and joined the Market Theatre Laboratory, where she taught youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds.

She has won several other awards, including the AA Vita Award for choreography in 1985, 1988 and 1990; a British Council Scholarship in 1986; a Foundation of the Creative Arts grant in 1995 and 1996; FNB Vita Award for the best choreographer in 1996; the Jan Faber Award for the most subversive choreography in 2000; and the British Theatre's Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance in 2003.

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Last update : 01/10/2011

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