INTERVIEW: Fertile Ground | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Fertile Ground is a unique graduate dance company based out of Dance City in Newcastle, which will be embarking on a Spring Tour throughout the North East, showcasing the range of performances developed throughout the past six months. As well as affording the dancers the increasingly rare opportunity to be paid to develop their practice, Fertile Ground sets itself apart from other dance companies by building relationships with schools, collaborating with museums and a range of choreographers, allowing the dancers to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a professional dancer, how to build a career and ultimately develop as an artist.

Alicia Meehan, one of this year’s graduates (alongside Alys North, Holly Bellamy and Kayleigh Fisk), moved to the region to join the company. She explained a bit about why she chose to move to the North East and join Fertile Ground and the processes behind the performances for their Spring Tour.

“It’s been really intense, but I’ve had a lot of great opportunities being a part of Fertile Ground. Having the chance to work with renowned choreographers like Tom Dale and Eleesha Drennan isn’t something that would normally happen at this stage of my career. Collectively, we’ve all been through some really good physical and mental challenges, you get close with one another very quickly, and we all end up directing ourselves and each other as well as having direction from Tom and Eleesha.”

Going more in-depth about the different choreographic practices, Alicia adds “It’s been great to explore different creative practices and add to our own styles and versatility. Tom is about the enjoyment of movement, he’ll set tasks and we create the movements which are then refined and moulded into a piece. Eleesha’s Shields Of Bone is more thematic, and was developed in part at a residency at the Discovery Museum.”

The showcase tour will include these performances, as well as work developed by the dancers themselves, including at the Bowes Museum a piece inspired by their current exhibition and made collaboratively with costume design students. “We got to help design our own couture outfits for that one, which was a really enjoyable experience!”

Image by Louise Todd, Dancer- Kayleigh Fisk, FERTILE GROUND

“We like to take little tasks or moments as a stimulus for a piece, challenging social acceptances, trying to do things differently and develop expressions to try and get certain emotions from our audience.”

Having seen an early performance from the group in December, of a piece choreographed by Tom Dale, Alicia and Alys had developed one particular movement within it that left the entire audience on the edge of their seat, the beauty of which was that there was hardly any movement at all. After a fluid routine from all four members, Alys and Alicia brought the whole piece down to a fragile stillness, where every breath, every look, the slightest touch, created such anxiety and suspense amongst those watching. It was as if everyone had collectively held their breath, feverishly anticipating the moment of release from the tension manifested by the two dancers. Alicia smiled recalling the performance. “We like to take little tasks or moments as a stimulus for a piece, challenging social acceptances, trying to do things differently and develop expressions to try and get certain emotions from our audience.”

If the December performance is anything to go by, their tour throughout February and March is likely to be challenging, moving and absolutely unmissable.

Fertile Ground’s performances take in various locations throughout February and March, including Berwick, Keswick, South Shields, Barnard Castle, Newcastle, Sunderland and more.

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