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Preview: Fertile Ground at The Customs House

Patron Wayne Sleep OBE
Attending The Customs House Gala

Fertile Ground
South Shields The Customs House
Sunday 22nd March 2015

Fertile Ground Patron Wayne Sleep OBE will be in the audience at The Customs House on Sunday 22 March watching Fertile Ground perform the final part of their Spring 2015 Tour.

Alys North in On the Darkened Wing
Photo: Kit Haigh
Fertile Ground, the North East’s first professional graduate dance company, will be finishing their Spring 2015 Tour with a very special guest in the audience. Wayne Sleep OBE will be in attendance on Sunday 22 March as the company perform their final tour date at The Customs House, South Shields. The Gala performance will showcase the full selection of company works, which have toured across some of the region’s leading cultural and heritage venues, including works by renowned choreographers Tom Dale and Eleesha Drennan.

Wayne Sleep OBE offered his support to the company and became patron in February 2015, stating " Fertile Ground helps young dancers to develop professionally. I know that this company will inspire everyone, and wish them great success as they embark on the region-wide tour."

Wayne Sleep performing in Cinderella
Photo Credit: Wayne Sleep
Dora Frankel, Fertile Ground Artistic Director said “I am absolutely delighted that Wayne Sleep is coming to the Gala at Customs House South Shields. Wayne has contributed so much to the world of dance and is an iconic dance celebrity with a Foundation that provides scholarships for talented youngsters in all areas of theatre and dance. It means a great deal to the company that someone of Wayne's reputation has recognised the importance of Fertile Ground and is supporting the company. The dancers are both delighted and excited to perform for Wayne on Sunday 22nd March.”

Alecia Meehan and Kayleigh Fisk in On the Darkened Wing
Photo: Kit Haigh
Fertile Ground began their tour on Thursday 12 February at The Maltings Theatre, Berwick-upon-Tweed, and have spent the last month taking dance to new and unusual settings, including Bede’s World in Jarrow, The Bowes Museum in County Durham, and the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. The Customs House Gala performance marks the end of Fertile Ground’s sensational first season.

The Customs House Executive Director, Ray Spencer MBE added “I have long admired Dora Frankel as a choreographer and as a dedicated long standing champion of contemporary dance. Dora constantly overcomes barriers in her quest to promote excellence in the regions dance provision. Dora is particularly keen in giving emerging performers and choreographers an opportunity to produce to new work for new audiences, her tenacity and determination to make things happen is a real role model to those young people entering the business. I’m delighted her dedication is being supported and recognised by Fertile Ground’s Patron Wayne Sleep. I hope we have a warm South Tyneside welcome awaiting this Sunday’s Gala performance.”

Alicia Meehan and Alys North in
A New Chimera by Tom Dale
Fertile Ground’s four graduate dancers – Alicia Meehan (Northern School of Ballet), Alys North (Northern School of Contemporary Dance), Kayleigh Fisk (University of Sunderland) and Holly Bellamy (Teesside University) – have built an exciting repertoire of works, taking inspiration from local sites and exhibitions. Dance duet ‘Land’ draws influence from Discovery Museum’s exhibition ‘Destination Tyneside’, while company work ‘On the Darkened Wing’ was created in response to The Bowes Museum’s ‘Bird’s of Paradise- Plumes and Feathers in Fashion’ exhibition.

The company will present these North East inspired pieces along with works by high profile choreographers Tom Dale and Eleesha Drennan, ‘A New Chimera’ and ‘Shields of Bone’. The show opens with NOW, a dynamic dance work choreographed by the company’s Artistic Director Dora Frankel.

Fertile Ground aims to nurture, challenge and inspire a new generation of dance artists to develop and present inspirational and accessible dance opportunities. “As the North East’s first professional graduate dance company, Fertile Ground offers a much-needed bridge between University study and the professional dance industry for some of the region’s most talented young dancers, while at the same time offering audiences the chance to see new, high quality work made right here in the North East.” Anthony Baker, Dance City Artistic Director and Joint CEO Dora Frankel adds, “We offer dance opportunities to some of the region’s most talented young dancers to work, train and perform intensively with outstanding guest teachers and choreographers. By developing our dancers and choreographers we hope to see a real increase in the number of artists staying in the region over the next five 'I am really delighted and moved that Wayne Sleep has offered his support - it means a great deal to me and to the whole company that someone of Wayne's reputation has spoken so warmly about our work.

His help and patronage ensures that our work can be seen more widely and that our collaboration with The Bowes Museum and Cleveland College of Art and Design can be realised.' Dora Frankel, Fertile Ground Artistic Director years, forming new artistic constellations, inspiring children and young people and increasing appreciation and understanding of contemporary dance in the North East.”

High profile guest choreographers include Tom Dale and Eleesha Drennan. Tom’s work for youth companies include The Rite of Spring and leading a Professional dancers’ Choreographic Residency in Cuba in 2012 with support from the British Council, while his performance career includes working with Matthew Bourne in the Adventures in Motion Pictures production of Swan Lake and in dancer roles with English National Opera and Opera North.

Shields of Bone by Eleesha Drennan
Eleesha Drennan is a recipient of this year’s Sky Academy Arts Scholarship, out of over 1,000 applicants. In 2012 Eleesha was awarded 1st prize at the 16th International Solo-Dance-Theatre Festival Stuttgart resulting in a tour of in Germany, China, Brazil and UK. She then undertook a choreographic residency with North Netherlands Dance 2012 and was House Choreographer of National Dance Company Wales from 2011 to 2013.

Jane Tarr, Director North, Arts Council England said, “Fertile Ground helps to inspire a new generation of dance artists as well as offering opportunities for children and young people through its learning programme. I am pleased that we have been able to fund its work through our National Lottery funded Grants for the arts programme and I look forward to seeing some exciting new performances in the North East.”

Fertile Ground  Spring 2015 Tour Gala
Sunday 22 March 2015 at 19:30
The Customs House, Mill Dam, South Shields, Tyne and Wear, NE33 1ES
Ticket prices: £12, £10 Conc, £9 Friends
To buy tickets: Venue Website
Box Office telephone: 0191 454 1234

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