10 minutes with Mathieu Geffré
You are a busy man Mathieu and we are very honoured you have found some time to spend with us next week. What’s coming up for you over the next year or so?
The coming year is very busy and exciting as it marks the beginning of a new chapter in my career following my recent retirement as a performer. I really want this year to be about the development of my company “Rendez-Vous dance”. I built this company with the ambition to connect with communities that are marginalised and isolated. It is very important to me to use the art of dance in order to address the problem of loneliness especially within the LGBTQ+ elderly community. Throughout the year I will deliver monthly workshops in Newcastle and in London for those communities and other people who may be interested in making new friends. This project will culminate towards the creation of my first full-length production: “What songs may do”. Inspired from the short duet I made 3 years ago (presented next on 9th of October during the Headfunk evening at NST- Southampton and on the 9th of November at Greenwich Dance - A Rosé Future), this production will integrate the communities I have worked with throughout the year, collaborating with the two professional dancers. This year I will continue dedicating my creative energy towards developing the talent of dancers in the UK and abroad. I will deliver intensive workshops (Greenwich Dance on the 2nd of October) and professional classes in different institutions in the UK and in France.
Can you describe the movement material or approach you will be sharing when you visit us here on the 2nd October?
Firstly, I want to spend a day with the participants to play and have fun playing. To enjoy dancing, I need to create a sense of exhilaration. This comes from the idea of involving the soul/the being within the practice, finding an intimate reason and meaning to each movement. We will try to reach this state through an extended class (2 hours). The class will allow us to find our centre in order to build our virtuosity. The class is inspired by the fundamental patterns of Cunningham technique, supported by a sensorial approach inspired by Fasciatherapy. By using a codified language, I aim to prepare the body to be available to the “unpredictabilities” of choreographic research. The afternoon session will be more about exploring my choreographic approach, sharing about my creative interests and being surprised by how a task can be translated by other dancers. I also want to learn from the participants, leave the space with the sensation that I have grown as an artist.
You recently made the decision to stop performing – in fact we saw one of your last performances I believe last week at The Place. How does that feel? What prompted your decision to transition….?
I am not sure I have completely realised the consequences of such a decision yet. For the past three years, my passion for performing had progressively transformed into a passion for supporting other artists to thrive. I did not feel the need to be in the space as a performer and I believe the industry is so tough and competitive, that it was not fair for me to dance half-heartedly when so many young dancers could do it with more commitment. There was also some kind of painful realisation when I couldn’t recognise the fire that animated my passion to dance for so many years. I am an emotional person and I make decisions based on how they feel. Today, the decision to stop being a performer feels right. I feel relieved that I can dedicate my time to create projects in which I will be able to express my choreographic voice, whilst developing the dancers with whom I work.
What qualities/skills do you think dancers need in today’s competitive landscape?
I think a good dancer today is someone who is brave enough to reveal vulnerability in a way that it will empower them. Dancers should aim to get the best out of themselves and out of their collaborators. Dancers should be themselves and take care of their identity. The world of contemporary dance is very eclectic, and I think everyone has the potential to find greatness and success by being open, curious, respectful and judgment-less. I also strongly believe in technique as a fundamental skill: technique as a physical structure to ensure healthy practice, aspiring to reach a certain virtuosity, pushing physical boundaries but also technique as a way of being together, listening to each other, being in the space and contributing to the overall energy in a collaborative and sensitive way.
You are working closely with Greenwich Dance over the next 18 months (if not more) as one of the first members of a new approach we are calling ‘Our Artistic Family’ – working in close collaboration with artists to help shape our vision for the future. Shall we give our readers a sneaky insight into some of our plans…?!
This is a very exciting question! Without revealing too much, we want Greenwich Dance to be an organisation that invests energy in engaging the local communities with dance in a fun, poetic and emotional way. We are trying to create events that are unique and entertaining. We want to think outside of the usual box and present dance in surprising and unconventional ways. We will for instance present a Fundraising gala on the 9th of November 2019 : Greenwich Dance - A Rosé Future. This evening of dance will be hosted by local wine merchant Theatre of Wine. Alongside 8 tastings of carefully selected wines, will be performances by Greenwich Dance’s Over 55’s performance group and Youth Dance Company, and an excerpt from a duet I originally made in 2016: What Songs May Do.