liminal /ˈlɪmɪn(ə)l/ (adj.)
Relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
Occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold

At the winter solstice, as the earth tilts fractionally once more towards the sun, in the glimmering pre-dawn stillness, at the moment before waking when the dream dissolves, or just before sleep as the moorings of consciousness are let slip, or as the last breath leaves the body and the soul drifts away, or at the point when the old order is left behind and the new is all ahead – these liminal states and the possibilities they suggest are explored in Café Reason Butoh Dance Theatre‘s new, part-improvised show Limina.

With this theme of beginnings and endings, transition, and duality, the company looks back to its past and forward to its future, with a ‘cabaret-style’ performance that offers an eclectic mix of reimagined early work and fresh choreography from newer members – a dreamlike series of short butoh-inspired pieces, combined with live music and video. Long-term collaborators Malcolm Atkins, Bruno Guastalla, and Pete McPhail will provide an exciting and original musical interpretation. (more…)

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Late on Monday 6th November 2017 Ana Barbour, much loved, inspirational and guiding presence in the Oxford dance scene, passed away having battled with cancer.  Her touching funeral at the home she loved on Sunday 12th November was attended by numerous family, friends, and colleagues, and was a celebration of her life and achievements in speeches, songs and dance.  I felt honoured to speak on that occasion about Ana’s work as a dance artist in Oxford, and I am posting here my speech to pay tribute to her.  You can also find links below to her own blog Anadances, Cafe Reason of whom she was an integral part, and the DEC Project; and her own occasional writings for this blog.  Oxford Dance Writers would really welcome other voices in this endeavour of remembrance, so please use the comments facility below to add to this partial picture your particular memories of Ana.  Thank you!

Ana Barbour

When I mounted the Solos Project for Oxford dance artists in 2008 Ana was one of six dancers who showed solos in the Burton Taylor’s intimate studio space. Her Butoh inspired piece Baggage accompanied by the atmospheric music of her long term friend and collaborator Malcolm Atkins was a remarkable episode in which having entered bowed down by a bundle on her back she burrowed into the baggage itself, morphing into surreal shapes and images of confined struggle that were humorous, poignant and dreamlike. It was my first experience of Ana as creative imagination and compelling performer. (more…)

The Contemporary Arts Research Unit CARU celebrates its (slightly belated) 4th anniversary with a great line-up of performances by artists from different forms working in collaboration, and including work by Oxford dance artists Naomi Morris, and Macarena Ortuzar (member of MUE).  This event is dedicated to talented photographer  Pier Corona, CARU’s VVVIP, and the heart of Oxford, who had been with CARU since its very first event 4 years ago.

Participating artists:

Naomi Morris
Martin Hackett
MUE – Macarena Ortuzar, Dariusz Dziala, Bruno Guastalla, Daniel Balanescu, performing ANIMUS
Peta Lloyd
Georgia Pazarloglou
Claire Frampton
Rory Flynn
Janice Howard

Date: Saturday 25th November, 6pm – 8pm

Venue: OVADA Gallery, 14a Osney Lane, Oxford. OX1 1NJ

FREE & ALL WELCOME!

Find out more about the event here and about MUE here

Find out about Pier Corona here and read the Oxford Mail’s tribute here

Tim Podesta’s unsettling creation for Ballet Cymru explores the darkness that lurks within us, disrupting our relationships with others. It is a work that shakes assumptions about love, gender and sexuality as he pitches his dancers into a series of disconcerting encounters. Although there is no narrative as such, we see a succession of incidents, all told with Podesta’s distinctive part-classical, part-contemporary movement vocabulary. The piece centres around Mara Galeazzi, but this is a company work: every dancer matters and they have all absorbed and internalised Podesta’s style, with its use of strongly arched backs, forward bends hinged at the hips, swift precise hand movements, lifts in which dancers move torso-to-torso, and unexpected pirouette turns spiralling out of one foot. (more…)

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s triple bill at Sadler’s Wells was a delightful and varied evening of dance. The programme opened with Ruth Brill’s interesting 2017 work Arcadia, danced to John Harle’s stunning saxophone accompaniment. Tyrone Singleton, a sinuous and predatory representation of the god Pan, weaves in and out of shadows cast on the stage against a background of huge arching trees, lurking and watching three nymphs. Through the influence of the goddess Selene (the elegant Delia Mathews) he is reformed, shows more respect, and becomes a better leader. This wishful topical narrative seemed a little forced, but Atena Ameri’s stylish designs and Peter Teigen’s lighting were highly effective, and the Chorus performed their bouncy choreography with energy. (more…)

This show promised huge energy, masculine physicality and comedy, and it didn’t disappoint. Playing out the power shifts between an older and younger man, the piece cleverly portrayed an ever-changing relationship. At once reliant and rejecting, the pair circled each other endlessly (both literally and metaphorically), each trying to gain – or retain – dominance.

The opening sequence set a striking, almost macabre tone: a series of frozen tableaus depicting the power play between the two characters was set against a dramatic score and even more dramatic lighting.   From this intense beginning, a much lighter and more accessible office comedy then played out. A pared-down but very funny script was performed seamlessly by Joshua Thomson and Gavin Webber; there was such a sense of flow and ease that I wondered how much of this was improvised – clearly the two men were having a lot of fun, playing games and sparring with one another. (more…)

A cross between The Office and a cage-fight, Australian style: straight from their critically acclaimed performances in Australia, The Farm presents the first UK tour of Cockfight, an exhilarating duet of extreme physical theatre that explores male behaviour and intergenerational conflicts. Coming to Pegasus Theatre on Friday 20 October as part of Oxford Playhouse’s Playhouse Plays Out scheme, it illustrates the interaction between two men from different generations, trapped in an all too familiar and universal environment – the office.

Born out of a very real relationship between performers Joshua (33 years old) and Gavin (50 years old), this is about two men who exist side by side, share space, resources, time and responsibility and justify their existence in relation to each other. Their physical action is underpinned by a fierce co-dependency in a duet of slow-motion fight sequences, interlocking rolls and tackles and Buster Keaton-esque battles of supremacy.

The Farm is an international network of highly respected artists, ranging from choreographers and independent dancers to musicians and designers. The artistic direction of the company is led by Gavin Webber and Grayson Millwood who have been making work together for the past fifteen years across four continents. Performed by Gavin Webber and Joshua Thomson, and developed by The Farm in partnership with guest artist Julian Louis, Cockfight is a powerful physical performance about male dominance and the exhibition of masculinity.

Performance:  Friday 20th October 7.30pm

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

Tickets:  £19 available from the Playhouse Ticket Office on 01865 305305 or book online at www.oxfordplayhouse.com