Struan Leslie

Struan Leslie

Struan Leslie
Head of Movement
Drama and Music



Struan Leslie has been creating movement-based theatre and performance for more than 35 years as well as teaching and training at the highest level. This includes plays from ancient, early modern and contemporary periods, circus, oratorios, operas as well as his own devised productions and dance works. He has taught as a practitioner and director at all UK Drama conservatoires.

He was the founding Head of Movement at The Royal Shakespeare Company from 2008-2014. As well as on stage Struan’s work has been seen of television and film. Articles about his work and practice have been widely published.



Struan’s teaching is founded in his extensive experience in creating performers and for performances.

His teaching practice is founded in over 35 years of exploration and practice-based research in theatre making. This work has developed from his training as a dancer and choreographer in the UK, London Contemporary Dance School – 1982-85) and the USA (Naropa Institute).

Significant teachers and collaborators in his lifelong learning span many generations of dance and Jane Dudley, Merce Cunningham, Nancy Stark-Smith, and theatre, Cicely Berry, Yoshi Oida, Elizabeth Lecompte, Neil Bartlett and Simon Deacon.

Struan has a pluralistic practice found in pure movement applied with specificity and rigour enabling the performer to respond to the creative process with ownership. He has collaborated extensively with many of the UK’s most highly regarded directors.

Over a 15-year period, he was Movement Director and choreographer on some 35 productions directed by the acclaimed Katie Mitchell including seminal productions of Ancient Greek plays at the National Theatre as well as Operas and Oratorios at Welsh National Opera.

Struan has collaborated with directors including Neil Bartlett, Roxanna Silbert, Michael Boyd, Gregory Doran, Nicholas Hytner, James Dacre, Dominic Hill and Phillip Howard.

His work has been produced by theatres including the National Theatre London, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Dundee Rep, Traverse Edinburgh, Citizens Theatre Glasgow, Chichester Festival Theatre, Donmar, Theatre for a New Audience, New York, American Repertory Theatre, Teatro Piccolo Milan, Theater Bielefeld.

Notable Achievements

Struan was the founding Head of Movement at The Royal Shakespeare Company from 2008-2013, creating movement and choreography for over 100 productions.

He has, for over 20 years, been a regular visiting professor and director in the Faculty of Fine And Applied Arts at University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana where he has variously been the George A. Miller Visiting Artist and the Board of Producers Visiting professor.

Ohio State University Struan presented the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute Lecture 2011-2012.

Commissions/Devised work include

Edinburgh Hogmany Street Party 2017/18 and 2018/19 Struan conceived and directed this Street Party for the new-look New Year's Eve animation of the Centre of Edinburgh - a 6-hour party for 65,000 people.

Everybody Loves a Winner, Manchester International Festival –– in with collaborators Neil Bartlett ( Director, Writer ) and Simon Deacon (Composer)

Illuminations  - Aldeburgh Festival –– created with Aurora  Orchestra, circus ensemble and soprano Sarah Tynan.

Links to relevant research/projects

Struan’s work has been the subject of scholarly investigation; Macintosh (2012), Halstead and LaBelle (2019), Tashkiran (2020) and Rodosavlijevic (2020)

Areas of Struan’s research include

  • Writing and reading body in performance
  • The creation and the role of Chorus in performance; in plays both ancient and modern, music as  choirs in concert and opera
  • Teaching and training performers
  • Collaborative devising processes
  • The nature of embodiment in relation to music