Anthony Baker, joint CEO & Artistic Director of Newcastle’s Dance City said it has been two years in the making. Dora Frankel, Artistic Director of Dora Frankel Dance, likened it to the gestation of an elephant. Now it’s half finished.
“It” is Borderlands, DFD’s latest piece of work, choreographed by Jarek Cemerek, which previewed before an invited audience at Dance City on 25th January.
Or rather, it is half of Borderlands. What we saw at the preview was a half-hour piece performed by three dancers but the intention is that it will be expanded at about an hour long with six dancers.
“I had the first idea early in 2011,” Dora Frankel said, “and decided Jarek would be the perfect choreographer later that year. By early 2012 we had a working title, Schengen. Jarek and I met in February and by August we had the ideas worked out, changed the title to Borderlands and formulated a proposal to present to Arts Council and other funders.”
The title changed because the original did not really mean anything to the majority of people in Britain. The Schengen Agreement abolished all internal border controls within the European Union and certain other states (including Norway and Switzerland) but neither the UK nor Ireland signed up to it.
“It’s an exploration,” says Frankel, “of the barriers and borders, real or imagined, that separate people and cultures. It’s a theme which fits well with DFD’s mission, which is to forge alliances with national and international artists to create unusual high quality and communicative dance to reach, challenge and stimulate new and established audiences here and abroad.”
Why is Frankel not choreographing the piece herself?
“That’s simple,” she replies, “Jarek is highly skilled, uses dance (rather than physical theatre) to communicate, shares similar ideas about dance, works incredibly hard and is brilliant and I wanted to launch him here in the UK and particularly here in the NE. I wanted to facilitate the best team I could find rather than actually choreograph myself.”
Cemerek and composer Ondrey Dedecek are both from the Czech Republic and Dora Frankel herself spent nearly twenty years in Scandinavia before settling in Newcastle. The dancers, too, are international: Audrey Rogero and Pierre Enaux are both French and Stephen Moyinhan is from Ireland.
After a very successful preview performance to the very enthusiastic Newcastle audience, the hunt is now on to find additional funding to complete the piece and set up a national and international tour.
“We have some venues in the UK already set up,” Frankel says, “and a Scandinavian leg of the tour is also coming together. We can’t put a timescale on it yet but we’re looking towards next year.”
The BTG will be following developments closely. Watch this space!