What songs may do… is the highly anticipated first full-evening production by award-winning choreographer, former National Dance Company Wales dancer and Rendez-Vous dance artistic director Mathieu Geffré, and it's coming to our venue on Wednesday 12 October at 7.30pm. Revealed by Nina Simone’s songs, it’s a duet exploring a couple’s fractured relationship. Mathieu tells us a little bit about how the project came about and what’s in store for audiences.
Q: What particularly inspired or spoke to you about the music of Nina Simone and the song Feelings?
A: This performance draws inspiration from seven love songs performed and or recorded by Nina Simone. My initial introduction to her interpretation of those songs happened as I was browsing the internet after a long day of rehearsal. I was immediately struck by the intensity of her performance. What particularly resonated with me was the fact that her emotional colour was supported by a unique virtuosity as a pianist. As she herself said, "I wasn't supposed to sing, that was an accident!" But how fascinated I was by this accident.
At first, I think I was a little bit cautious and overwhelmed with the idea of using such a soundtrack for a dance piece but as a young maker - I was maybe a little bit reckless and naïve - I wanted to test and challenge myself. Feelings is a question mark. It interrogates the reasons why we decide to fall in love again despite the pain it may create when this love is gone. The theme of this song slowly became the anthem of the piece as we present two male identifying characters navigating their love for each other throughout the piece.
Q: How has the work developed since you first choreographed it as an award-winning duet in 2015? How has it evolved with the passage of time / world events?
A: With the short duet, I had the opportunity to attempt a first approach to different concepts and ideas. Very early on, the sensation was that all those creative concepts could be explored in more depth with more detail. The creation of our full evening was a way for me to make use of the luxury of time in order to establish and let ideas land in space.
The majority of the production we are touring this season was created during winter 2020/2021. Unfortunately, we were unable to present the work due to the pandemic. My experience of life combined to the richness of my collaboration with dramaturg Andrew Gardiner and successive performers fed this work from within. For the past seven years, What songs may do… matured to a place of readiness to be shared with our audience. We are now very much looking forward to seeing how the evolution of this work will continue through the performative experience of the dancers.
Q: How proud do you now feel that you are taking it on tour as a full-length show?
A: There is a combination of emotions inhabiting me right now.
I am extremely proud to bring this work to audiences as I believe it contributes to proposing a progressive image on how love can be portrayed in dance.
As an openly gay man, I often found myself in the situation where I had to translate standard hetereosexual love stories to my personal experience.
I am excited to show this work for our very first national tour as I believe that we are presenting two performers (Paolo Pisarra and Oliver Chapman) who demonstrate unique commitment and excellence. What I am mostly excited about is that Rendez-Vous is only one year-old but we are achieving so much in such a short time; we are far from running out of ideas and ambitions and we do hope that audiences will follow us along.
Q: How important is it to tell more and more stories from LGBTQIA+ communities, stories which can be accessed by everyone?
A: At Rendez-Vous, we dedicate our work in telling LGBTQIA+ stories from the past and from the present. By making those stories available to all, we want to send the message that those stories belong to our common history and that the learning we may get from those will support the greater understanding of our current world and history.
I believe we are fortunate to live at a moment in history when diversity and the global mission for a more equal representation begins to be taken into consideration. There is still a long way before us...unfortunately. In the hope to be impactful, we contribute to this general mission by taking responsibility in representing our community.
The whole team at Rendez-Vous dance identifies as queer; we want to become a hub for our underrepresented community to finally feel championed. What I think is the most important with Rendez-Vous work is that we are championing diversity involving people living in great harmony. At Rendez-Vous dance, dance has no age, no gender, no ethnicity or cultural boundaries; it is easy to access.
Image of Mathieu Geffré credit: RougedMilk