Dance City, the North East’s leading dance development organisation, is thrilled to announce its support for the creation of 10 new works over the coming year as part of their 2019/2020 commissioning programme.

This year saw the highest volume of applications than ever before, all of a very high standard, resulting in a lengthy and thorough selection process.

Dance city were delighted to welcome Dora Frankel, former director of Fertile Ground, long term north east resident and significant contributor to the north east dance ecology; and Rachel Birch, co-founder of Moving Arts Management, producer, performer and long term north east resident to the panel of judges.

Artistic Director, Anthony Baker said ‘Each of our guest judges bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the panel, helping us make informed, knowledgeable and fair decisions.’

Care has been taken to ensure that the selection of artist works chosen is fully representative of the North East community including LGBTQ, BAME and mentally and physically disabled groups.

Artist Mathieu Geffré said “I am absolutely delighted to be one of the lucky candidates to be granted with a Dance City commission. As the only recipient from outside the North East, it is an honour to be given such opportunity. I am extremely motivated and excited  to create the greatest work possible with the people from Newcastle”

Full length commissions

Five full length commissions of the value of £5000 were awarded to North East artists, Gillie Kleiman, Nicole Vivien Watson, Robby Graham of Southpaw Dance, Micheal Heatley of Hit the Ground Running Dance and London based Mathieu Geffré. These productions will be performed within Dance City’s Professional Performance Programme between 2019 and 2021.

Gillie Kleiman – Familiar

Familiar will be a full-length evening of performance comprised of two works: one authored by Gillie and performed by theatre maker Greg Wohead, the other authored by Greg and performed by Gillie. Familiar plays out what it means to be companions, where we think we know everything about each other whilst facing the fact that we can’t. The work will be designed by celebrated visual and performance artist Tim Spooner.


Nicole Vivien Watson – Behind the Face of a Rock

Behind the Face of a Rock, Throwing Stones, is an exciting, new and artistic, choreographic work that is influenced by British Sign Language and will be made in dialogue with regional dance artists: Charlie Dearnley, and Alex Rowland, and London based deaf and professional dance artist, Chris Fonseca. The work will also feature interdisciplinary elements by Northumberland based visual artist, Graham Patterson and sonic elements offered by award-winning London based composer, Tom White.


Mathieu Geffré – What songs may do

What songs may do will be an insight into the power of songs, reinforced by Nina Simone’s performance of the song Feelings that she gave at the 1976 Montreux Jazz Music Festival. Mathieu will explore what happens when we challenge the tradition of our seat for the freedom to respond as an audience. In this duet, the two dancers remodel the stage into their theatre seat and attend Simone’s performance. How can the relationship of the two characters evolve as they embrace and express their emotions with authenticity and honesty?


Southpaw Dance – Speakeasy

Speakeasy will draw on one of the company’s most successful works, Faust, which has toured extensively outdoors. Speakeasy is a transition work: we aim to build on the Southpaw’s established and successful heritage in outdoor touring and community cast work, adding indoor touring capabilities to our repertoire, and bringing new audiences and new participants into indoor venues in 2019-2021.


Hit the Ground Running Dance – Suitcases


In an attic at the Willard Asylum, New York, 427 suitcases belonging to Willard patients were found… The suitcases. Beautifully preserved epitaphs to a few of those who lived and died at the Asylum and a poignant remembrance of the lives they left outside. Hit The Ground Running Dance Theatre Company, will produce a piece of dance theatre which explores the stories behind the Willard Suitcases, examines the treatment of mental health and the devastating effects on the lives it touches.


Early Stage Commissions

Three Early Stage Commissions have been awarded to North East based companies. These commissions provide support for the development of early stage, short pieces of work (5 – 15 minutes duration). These pieces will be performed in at least one Dance City platform event, to include Dance Edits in September 2019.


Company of Others – Crackle. Dust

Following a period of ACE Supported research and development (August 2018) Company of Others will be co-creating a new work with 300 women and all who identify as such from across the North, sharing their experiences of endings and the challenges facing women living in the North of England. Their stories will be collected through discussion, anonymous letters, emails and voice recordings, allowing women to be anonymous should they wish, working in partnership with organisations such as The Comfrey Project, Tyneside Women’s Health and Together Women Project to ensure the most marginalised women have the opportunity to be heard.


Igor Tavares

Igor Tavares will be developing a solo piece that explores the relationship between creativity in panting and dance, together with the expression of the individual within a wider community. Influences will include Jean-Michel Basquait, Gill Scott Heron and the Last poets, Yves Klein and African ritual dances which connect the physical and spiritual worlds. The focus of the piece will be to use Earth, Water, Air, and Fire, and to develop movements/paint-marking to reflect responses to these within the context of climate change.  The piece will involve dance, live “painting” and some significant objects.


Collision Dance Theatre


Set in the present-day world, where online personas are everything and the lines between fact and fiction are blurred. This new piece will follow the journey of two females as they prepare for the largest mascaraed ball of all, the infamous night out on the town. Battling their emotional and physical demons, they are forced to think about the undecided parts of themselves, elements not quite prepared for outer consumption or judgement. As they seek connection, compassion and permission from one another to shed their masks.

Accelerate Commissions

These newly designed commission programmes have been designed to support graduate North East artists to shape their voice as dance makers and will be at at least one of Dance City’s platforms throughout the year. These commissions are awarded in memory of Charlotte Grant.


Matthew Fraser

Matthew will be continuing the development of his dissertation piece initially created during his time at Trinity Laban. The work, titled ‘October 26th’ condenses a week spent in the Lake District and explores the concept of anxiety and depression, using the Lakes raw natural landscape and each characters relationship to the environment around them to provoke personal memories.


Greta Heath

Greta will be creating a screen dance film, with movement influenced by and set in locations where industry meets the natural world.  It would address the domestic and large-scale use of natural resources including where it is extracted or created. The new piece (as yet untitled) will explore the contrast between urban/domestic settings and the often-rural landscape where the extraction takes place. Through movement Greta intends to trace the journey of how natural products transpose from a raw to a refined resource.


Dance City is committed to developing new work and nurturing artists of all backgrounds and worked hard to ensure that the selection of individuals and companies chosen were equally balanced in gender and value.

Dance City commissions are designed to stimulate, promote, and encourage the creation of new dance works in the North East and beyond and encourage both early career and more established artists to develop new work or take the next step in their career.

To find out more about Dance City Commissions and apply for next year’s commissions, visit: