The new Executive Director of Protein Dance, Franck Bordese, looks back on his career championing cross-artforms and engagement work.
Hoxton Hall (1998-2002)
Following a master’s degree in History of Law at Panthéon-Assas University in Paris, I moved to London in 1996 to start a postgraduate diploma in Arts Administration at City University. Shortly after, I started my career as Administrator of the historic grade II* listed Hoxton Hall in London, a leading experimental theatre centre at the time presenting the work of acclaimed artists such as Forced Entertainment, Station House Opera, Bobby Baker and La Ribot. Hoxton Hall had a rich history of performance and community work that gave me a love of arts buildings and a passion for bringing extraordinary art to diverse communities.
East London Dance (2002-06)
At Hoxton Hall, I also developed an interest in contemporary dance, which I developed as General Manager of East London Dance in Stratford. Here I worked with such renowned artists as Russell Maliphant, Akram Khan, Rosemary Lee and Tony Adigun.
Meanwhile, I started a parallel career as a performance critic. I reviewed work at the Royal Opera House, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Barbican Centre for the pioneering online magazine Kultureflash.net. I also started performing in cabarets and clubs, which gave me a better understanding of the artists’ point of view.
South London Gallery (2006-08)
Having established myself strongly in the dance world, but always keeping close ties with the art world, I was hired as Deputy Director of the South London Gallery. Here, I worked on the building extension, negotiating the transfer of property between the gallery, the council and Camberwell College. At long last I was able to use my legal background!
I also worked on shows by leading artists such as Chris Burden, Thomas Zipp, Nigel Cooke and Eva Rothschild. The gallery was renowned for its live art programme and, as I was still writing for the emerging online magazine Run Riot, I kept up to date with the performance and dance scene.
Siobhan Davies Dance (2008-13)
I was in the middle of the building project at the South London Gallery when, by chance, I came across an advert for the position of Executive Director at Siobhan Davies Dance. I didn’t know much about the company, but when I realised that Siobhan Davies wanted to stop making work for the theatre and embark on creating dance installations for galleries, I knew this was the job for me.
We radically repositioned the company within the contemporary art world. I succeeded in getting commissions from prestigious arts institutions such as the Whitechapel and Hayward galleries in London and the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. I was the Executive Producer of the company’s art film, ‘All This Can Happen’, which was released in 2012. It has gone on to tour to major international film festivals and galleries.
At the Siobhan Davies Studios, I organised and curated exhibitions by several emerging artists, including Laura Wilson, Ludovica Gioscia, Lilah Fowler and Ruth Proctor, who have all gone on to get major commissions in museum and galleries around the world.
I became passionate about work that exists at the intersection of dance and visual art, and started curating and hosting the Dance and Art Forum in London, which was attended by leading figures in the art world. It became an important advocating tool for dancers’ rights in the visual art world.
Having established a reputation working at the intersection of visual art and performance, it was almost natural that I would join Performa in New York. I assumed responsibility for the financial and administrative management of the international biennial of visual art performance. I worked and learned a lot about maximising earned income from box office, sponsorship and sales, organising auctions and limited editions sales. Working closely with the Producing Director, I also worked on touring performances, negotiating contracts with artists and venues, and I had the privilege of touring Yvonne Rainer’s performance work across the US and in Europe.
Protein Dance (2017 to present)
Working with Yvonne Rainer and other amazing Performa artists made me want to work closely with an artist again. Luca Silvestrini of Protein Dance invited me to join the company and in January I moved back to London.
As a student at City University I did a work placement at Greenwich International Festival, and twenty years later I returned to Greenwich as Executive Director of one of the most engaging and dynamic dance theatre companies. It’s good to be back home and good to see how much I have learned through these various experiences, all along building a great network of friends and colleagues that has made London my home.
Franck Bordese is Executive Director of Protein Dance.