Body Politic is delighted to announce theDECADE, a one-night only hip hop dance and theatre showcase celebrating the company’s 10-year anniversary on 10 Sept 2022 at Pegasus Theatre, Oxford. The evening will include a restaging of Body Politic’s seminal 2015 dance film BREEZEBLOCKS, and a bespoke production created with young dancers of Oxford; it will also feature fun and energetic performances from London’s renowned Impact Youth dance company, Oxford’s street dance specialist Step 2 Dance, internationally renowned and multi competition-winning Definitives. Other guest performers include The Movement Initiative from Portsmouth, Oxford’s TPD Youth Company, Jayde Edwards from London and Jamaal O’Driscoll from Birmingham.

The audience will be invited to stick around for a post-show Q&A with Artistic Director Emma-Jane Greig, drinks and a live set by DJ SPINADA.

Body Politic’s Artistic Director Emma-Jane Greig said: “I can’t believe that Body Politic has been running for 10 years. I feel really proud of what a huge milestone this is. It’s been an incredible journey. And it feels really special to be able to come back to Pegasus Theatre, the heart of where it all started. Both as a young person performing on the Pegasus stage and later working as part of the Pegasus team. It’s where my inspiration and ultimately where Body Politic was born. I hope that many people can join us in celebrating the community, the place, and the people who have contributed to such a unique and special organisation that prioritises the creativity and empowerment of young people and their experiences.”

As a flagship female led organisation, Body Politic launched at Pegasus Theatre in September 2012. Since then, its work has empowered young people from under-represented communities through dance, on and off the stage.

From nationally acclaimed theatre productions THEM and Father Figurine, to community classes, young people’s leadership programmes, and initiatives such as Summer Camp 22 (supported by the Department for Education and Marcus Rashford’s Holiday Activities and Food programme), young people’s wellbeing and growth has been at the forefront of the organisation.

Georgia Bradley, Director of People, Programmes, and Partnerships at Pegasus Theatre said: “Our partnership with Body Politic feels so special. We’ve been working with them for 10 years and it’s been amazing seeing what this partnership has produced. They are such a key part of Oxford’s dance community and we’re proud to have them as our company-in-residence. We can’t wait to see what they’ve created this time!”

Date: Saturday 10th September 7.00pm

Venue: Pegasus Theatre, Magdalen Road, Oxford OX4 1RE

Tickets: from £12, book online here

Running time: 120 minutes

Age Guidance: 11 years+

Find out more about Body Politic here

Lynn Garafola’s biography of Bronislava Nijinska sets her life and work in the context of the cultural and political changes that shaped the twentieth century.  Chiefly remembered in the United Kingdom as Vaslav Nijinsky’s sister, and the choreographer of just two works, Les Biches and Les Noces, this book resituates Nijinska as a huge creative force, whose influence has had a seminal impact on ballet throughout the Western world.

Garafola’s sixteen chapters brilliantly knit together Nijinska’s personal and professional life, revealing a complex and troubled woman who was truly driven to create dances.  There was continually tension both between Nijinska’s compulsion to work and her desire to look after her dearly loved family, and between her professional achievements and her tragic personal life, which included her brother’s decline into mental illness, the death of her son in a car crash and her unconsummated love for the singer Fedor Chaliapin.

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Susan Sellers’ novel Firebird: a Bloomsbury love story is inspired by the life of the dancer Lydia Lopokova and her love affair, and eventual marriage, with the economist John Maynard Keynes.  One of the problems for the novelist telling a true story is that at any point the reader is likely to know what happens next, yet Sellers’ compelling narrative creates suspense both through the immediacy of her writing  (she largely uses the present tense) and by shifting the gaze from one character to another to give alternative points of view.

Lopokova and Keynes were from completely different backgrounds.  She came from St Petersburg and was trained at the Imperial Ballet School, he was educated at Eton and Kings College Cambridge, and the general consensus among his friends in the Bloomsbury Group was that they were ill-matched.  Interestingly, in Sellers’ account, they are both to some extent outsiders among these people, who consider their table manners uncouth, and look down them for their willingness to work for a wage, albeit in very different fields.

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As part of this year’s Offbeat Festival on 15th July at the Old Fire Station on Oxford’s George Street we were treated to an evening of Kathak dance and music presented as “Going Global”.  The instrumentalists included the amazing tabla player, Master Sanju Sahai, along with violinist Alice Barron, and sitar player and vocalist Debipriya Sircar.  Jaymini Sahai leads the company and is its solo Kathak dancer.  The troupe was sponsored and presented by Aradhana Arts.

The evening began with an introduction by Jaymini Sahai in which she explained that among the eight major Indian dance styles – or forms – Kathak represented best those from the North of the country along with the Panjabi Bhangra.  The famous Bharatanatyam from Tamil Nadu represented those from southern India along with the dramatic Kathakali dance drama form.   Sahai further explained that all Indian dances are a form of storytelling.  And that, under the Mogul’s rule in Northern India, Kathak dance became a dance for the courts of the emperors and was in this way refined in its gestures.

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Physic is a unique and special evening curated by Alice Oswald, the University of Oxford’s Professor of Poetry, as part of Oxford Botanic Garden‘s 400th anniversary celebrations. In this roving performance of music, poetry and dance, each artist responds to the Garden as a place of healing. The event will commence at 7.00pm, welcominng visitors to enjoy the Garden after hours, and will include a diverse range of performances from renowned artists that will include poetry, music and dance. The settings will be closely matched to the style of the piece, including music in the Conservatory, dance among the Herbaceous Borders, and performances in the Rainforest and Waterlily houses. This rotational experience will culminate in a finale in the Upper Garden. The event is supported by TORCH, the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities.

Confirmed performers include:

  • Alice Oswald will be performing Against Leaves – a protest against deciduousness.
  • Stevie Wishart will be performing her extraordinary blackbird transcriptions on violin, accompanied with poems performed by Alice Oswald.
  • Saju Hari will offer danced interventions to the performances.
  • Peter Oswald will be performing his poem-version of a story, Filo D’Oro and Filomena, collected by Italo Calvino, and several other flower poems written in Bristol.
  • Erica McAlpine will be reading from a sequence of short rhyming poems based on the flowers she sees and grows in Oxfordshire.
  • A performance of Kiki Katese’s work – more information coming soon.

Date: Sunday 17th July, 7.00-9.00pm

Venue: Oxford Botanic Gardens, Rose Lane, OX1 4 AZ

Booking: Tickets £20, book online here

Find out more about the event and the artists here

Dance Scholarship Oxford (DANSOX) hosts no less than three exciting summer intensives this July. International artists, writers, choreographers and guests explore themes of creativity and dance-making in relation to other arts. Alice Oswald and Saju Hari explore epic through different media; Thomas Page Dances develops current research on Commonalities; emerging dancers at Rambert School and the Royal Scottish Conservatoire make new dance narratives by and about women.  Guest lecturers include international dance critic Alastair Macaulay and eminent biographer Lyndall Gordon. Visitors are welcome to drop in at any time to watch the processes unfolding, but do book places for the public sharing events listed below.

Venue: Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Cowley Place, Oxford OX4 1DY

Alice Oswald with Saju Hari and Dancers 11th-14th July

Oxford’s Professor of Poetry Alice Oswald collaborates with internationally renowned contemporary Indian dance and martial arts expert Saju Hari, developing work for the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama All-Night Epic project to come in 2023.

Public Sharing including Q&A: 14th July 5.30pm

Thomas Page Dances: Commonalities 15th-20th July

Thomas Page Dances develops new dance work and discusses the themes of commonality in relation to dance theories, histories and practice.

Public Keynote Guest Lecture given by Alastair Macaulay: ‘Commonalities, Communities, Utopia’ 15th July 11.30am

Public Sharing of the work with Thomas Page Dances including Q&A: 20th July 5.30pm

Deborah Norris, Rambert School and Guests: Women and Choreography 21st-25th July

This exciting choreographic intensive brings together a group of students of the Rambert School and the Royal Scottish Conservatoire in classes and workshops with guest teachers Kate Flatt, Jennifer Jackson and Susie Crow, and to make new work.

Public Keynote Guest Lecture given by Lyndall Gordon: Charlotte Brontë (Villette) 21st July 5.30pm

Public Sharing of Woman-Made! An evening of new short ballets created by women including Q&A

25th July 5.30pm

To book for Keynote Lectures and Public Sharing events please email Professor Sue Jones here

The annual Offbeat Festival is a hive of new performance in Oxford showcasing brand-new theatre, comedy, dance, family shows, spoken word and music right on the doorstep. A collaboration between Oxford Playhouse and Arts at the Old Fire Station, it incorporates live and pre-recorded performances streamed from the Old Fire Station and Burton Taylor Studio. Take a chance on something exciting; here are details of dance shows at Offbeat.

Wednesday 13th July 8.00-9.00pm: Commonality

Venue: Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2AQ

Tickets: £10 – book online here

Shared experiences in a world of division, with Thomas Page Dances.  Featuring contemporary dance, a unique score, live photography and an interactive set, Commonality looks at the parts of life that everyone has in common. Through the exploration of shared experiences and feelings, this performance paints the possibilities of coming together as one community.

Friday 15th July 8.00-9.00pm: Going Global

Venue: Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2AQ

Tickets: £10 – book online here

Aradhana Arts are excited to bring Going Global to the Old Fire Station as part of Offbeat Festival, bringing together an ensemble of talented musicians presenting a rich mix of music from around the globe. The ensemble is led by the critically acclaimed Tabla Master Sanju Sahai and features versatile violinist Alice Barron, talented Sitarist and Vocalist Debipriya Sircar, versatile Guitarist Giuliano Modarelli and North Indian classical Kathak dance by Jaymini Sahai. Suitable for ages 10 years+

Sunday 17th July 11.00am-12.00: Apple ‘n’ Spice

Venue: BT Studio, Gloucester Street, Oxford OX1 2BN

Tickets: £8 – book online here

Sanskruti Dance introduces children to storytelling, dance and shadow puppetry with Apple ‘N’ Spice, an original, interactive and multi-cultural performance incorporating bharatanatyam and contemporary dance. This new fairy tale tells the story of two stepmothers; one from the East and one from the West, watch the plot thicken as their stories entwine. “Children and their families watched on in awe.” – Colchester and North Essex Gazette. Suitable for ages 5 years+

The Ballet des Porcelaines, or The Teapot Prince, was an eighteenth century ballet in the chinoiserie style, for which costumes, sets and choreography are lost; only the score, by Nicolas Racot de Grandval, and the libretto, by the Comte de Caylus, survive.  In 2021 Meredith Martin, Professor of Art History at New York University, and Phil Chan, choreographer and co-founder of Final Bow for Yellowface, collaborated on a re-imagining of this work, which is now touring European venues that included  Waddesdon Manor on 16 and 17 June.  The animation of porcelain was a popular eighteenth century motif, and the original ballet’s story, in which a Chinese sorcerer turned a prince into a teapot, epitomised the simultaneous ‘othering’ and plundering of Oriental culture by Europeans.  The project’s goal was to recreate the work remaining true to its original artistic intentions while revealing the narrative from a broader post-colonial perspective.

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Welcome to Jordan Lian, MPhil student at Oxford University, writing for Oxford Dance Writers for the first time. Jordan is studying the ballet history of the Slavonic region, and his current MPhil thesis is on Nijinska’s choreographic leadership of the Polish National Ballet 1937-1938. Here he reviews the recent triple bill by Rambert performed at Sadler’s Wells.

Friday’s Rambert performance started on a high note as Imre and Marne van Opstals’ Eye Candy, reflecting on the pains and pleasures of inhabiting the human body and originally premiered online in July 2021, generated an electric buzz. The piece opens with a dancer who drags out a mysterious package—a tranquil female body. Yet she comes alive as her peers onstage manipulate her joints and limbs to stretch, contort, and fold her corpus. In this sequence, the van Opstals challenge us to think of the degree of free will we possess in our own bodies; we watch as the puppet’s body is moulded by many hands until she moves autonomously. The choreography comprises mechanistic movements as the dancers jab, hammer, and drill gesturally, yet these high-frequency movements betray a lack of control despite the tension held in the dancers’ bodies. 

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DANSOX conferences at St Hilda’s College, Oxford are now a regular landmark in the UK dance research year.  DANSOX works in association with TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) and constitutes Oxford’s interface between dance practice and dance research; a space to investigate the ways in which practice constitutes research and, conversely, where research becomes practice.  Although Oxford University has neither a dance department nor dance studio, DANSOX plays a vital role at a time when other UK institutions and centres of academic excellence in dance and their collections are under threat.

The DANSOX 2022 Day of Dance: Transnational Conversations symposium was a collaboration with TORCH Humanities and Cultural Programme and the Network Britain and the Soviet Union: Cultural Encounters; the day interrogated the ways in which dance communicates across borders, cultures and generations through written records, images, recordings and bodily memory.  Open to all, and attended by an array of distinguished scholars, writers, and practitioners from major dance institutions, the day included performances, workshops, lectures, and experimental applications of virtual reality (VR) to performance.

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