First ‘Made in the North East’ dance commission announced

Published: 15 January 2021
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Mathieu Geffré
Mathieu Geffré

Dance City has announced that the recipient of its £25,000 'Made in the North East' (MITNE) commission is Rendez-Vous Dance with The Monocle.

Rendez-Vous Dance creates projects to tell past and present stories of LGBTQ+ communities. This new piece is inspired by the secretly notorious 1930s Parisian lesbian club Le Monocle and will be performed by seven dancers who identify as female or non-binary.

Rendez-Vous Dance was established in 2019 by choreographer Mathieu Geffré, who now lives in Newcastle. During his 15-year career as a performer, he collaborated with some of the most celebrated artists in the world including Itzik Galili, Christopher Bruce, Didy Veldman, Angelin Preljocaj and Johann Inger.

“I feel absolutely elated to have been offered the Made in the North East commission,” Geffré said. “Firstly, I would like to particularly thank the commission panel, the consortium of venues and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for choosing my project to champion dance in the North East.

“After investing energy in developing work and relationships in the region for the past four years, I fully acknowledge with great humility the privilege I now have to be able to project myself in a new creative adventure which I wish to be ambitious, collaborative and people-oriented.”

This is the first commission of its kind, combining the forces of nine North East venues to offer a fee of £25,000 to support the creation of a new work and a region-wide tour. Partner venues are:

  • Dance City (Newcastle)
  • Alnwick Playhouse
  • Queens Hall (Hexham),
  • Middlesbrough Town Hall
  • The Witham (Barnard Castle)
  • The Fire Station (Sunderland), managed by Sunderland Culture
  • Darlington Hippodrome
  • Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre
  • Gosforth Civic Theatre (Newcastle)

“We are thrilled to be announcing the recipient of a Made In The North East commission,” Phil Douglas, Director of Artistic Programmes and Artist Development at Dance City, said. "The panel were incredibly impressed by the quality of applications, which proved a testament to the talent working in the region. The panel concluded Rendez-Vous Dance's The Monocle was to be awarded the commission for its well-planned, presented and engaging proposal.

“Conceived as an entertaining and immersive experience involving dance and live music, The Monocle promises to be a fun performance articulating themes of pride, gender fluidity and rebellion.

“We want the North East to be a place where world class dance is made. With the support of Esmée Fairburn Foundation, we have created this strategic partnership project to share, diversify and develop programming-quality professional dance into more places and spaces in the region, giving confidence and deeper insight for venues, audiences and artists about the process of producing and touring dance work.”

Susan Coffer, Centre Manager at The Witham, added, “Mathieu Geffré's concept for The Monocle is highly original. This will be more than a dance work, it will be a total experience for the audience from the moment they enter the venue. I can't wait to be part of the world he'll create, to be drawn into the atmosphere, to be emersed in his storytelling.”

The Monocle will be created between May 2021 and January 2022, with a tour taking place in spring 2022.