Case Study: Pauline Mayers

Writer, theatre maker and choreographer, and Associate Artist at Leeds Playhouse

Pauline Mayers is a writer, theatre maker and choreographer. Born in London, Pauline began her theatre and dance training at the Weekend Arts College before continuing her training in dance at the Rambert School, London. In her final year at the Rambert School, Pauline taught at the Royal Ballet School.

After graduating, Pauline danced with a number of prestigious organisations nationwide, including  Janet Smith and Dancers, Diversions Dance and Phoenix Dance. During this time she became Rehearsal Director and Interim Artistic Director of Tees Dance Initiative in Stockton on Tees, danced with The Ensemble Group in Edinburgh and danced with Opera North’s touring production The Magic Flute.

In 2011 Pauline decided to diversify her artistic practice, leading her to the inaugural Transform Festival at Leeds Playhouse. Here, she met playwright, director and performer Chris Goode. This meeting began a longstanding collaborative relationship between Pauline Mayers and the Chris Goode and Company.

Anthony Robling
Photo Anthony Robling

In 2012 Pauline choreographed a piece for Urban Sprawl at Light Night, a piece which celebrated living in Leeds performed by three dancers. Pauline then began to collaborate with a number of arts organisations in the city, including working as Movement Director on Promised Land with Red Ladder and collaborating with Tell Tale Hearts on their production of Yummm!.

In 2013, Pauline was the lead artist on Burmantofts Stories, her first outdoor site-specific piece made for 2013 Transform Festival.

In 2015 Pauline attended a workshop at Leeds Playhouse lead by American choreographer and performer Frank Willens. Exploring the energetic relationship between dancers in space and how a choreographer can manipulate this, the workshop sparked the initial moment when Pauline first began experimenting as a combined choreographer and theatre-maker.

In 2012 Pauline became an Associate Artist with Chris Goode and Company, choreographing and appearing in a number of productions including Wanted, The Albermarles Sketchbook, 9 (Leeds Playhouse), and Open House.

In 2016 Pauline began to work under the name The Mayers Ensemble, following which her critically acclaimed solo show What If I Told You was born. A co-production with the Playhouse, the production was made and performed with real focus on participation, intimacy and identity, seamlessly combining both dance and theatre in a moving exploration of race, prejudice, honesty and memory.

Following a first work-in-progress sharing at the Playhouse in 2017, What If I Told You played at the Army Reserve at Edinburgh Fringe, receiving critical acclaim and a nomination for the prestigious Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. What If I Told You has since toured across the country.

In 2017 Pauline became one of the 26 participants on the Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme Leaders of Tomorrow programme. Pauline is currently working on a number of projects in Leeds.

‘I’ve found my artistic home here in Leeds. Seven years ago when I was trying to discover my craft, the Playhouse was the first building I walked into. Seven years on, my relationship with the Playhouse is stronger than ever. I’m taking real strides in my artistic practice, and it’s wonderful to have the Playhouse walking side by side with me on that journey.’

Praise for Pauline’s work

‘Powerful and experimental work about difference and prejudice takes a communal approach to performance’

The Stage

‘What If I Told You is a gift for all who attend it.’

The Scotsman

‘Her choreography has a compelling lineage, and with each movement there comes a meaning and story of its own.’

A Younger Theatre

‘With a performance this moving, sometimes you just want to sit with the delicate, devastating mood it creates.’


‘A thought-provoking and powerful piece of work’

The Culture Vulture

Career history

  • 1985 Trains at Weekend Arts College
  • 1988 Trains at Rambert School
  • 1990 Teaches at Royal Ballet School
  • 1991 Graduates from Rambert School
  • 1992 Joins Janet Smith and Dancers
  • 1994 Joins Diversions Dance
  • 1999 Joins Phoenix Dance Company
  • 2012 Choreographs for Light Night
  • 2012 Movement Director on Promised Land with Red Ladder
  • 2016 First work-in-progress sharing of What If I Told You
  • 2017 Pauline announced as Leeds Playhouse Associate Artist
  • 2017 What If I Told You plays at the Army Reserve at Edinburgh Fringe, receiving a nomination for the prestigious Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award
  • 2017 Movement Director on Queen of Chapeltown, brand new production celebrating 50 years of Leeds West Indian Carnival
Photo Lizzie Coombes