Woolf Works opens with a recording of Virginia Woolf herself reading from her lecture On Craftsmanship, “Words, English words, are full of echoes, memories, associations …”. If the purpose of ballet is ultimately communication, Wayne McGregor has set himself a problem: how is it possible to add to what Virginia Woolf has already said with words in the three books that inspire the ballet? The depth and density of Woolf’s writing as she moves in and out of the minds of her characters cannot be directly replicated in dance, but by taking themes in the novels as a jumping-off ground, McGregor and his dancers are able to use movement to delve into the human psyche. (more…)

Black shapes twist and turn languidly in the water. Reflections ripple out. Now a foot, now a hand shows; a figure faces down into the water. The refraction of light causes strange foreshortenings of limbs, odd bulges break from the surface as air moves around a wetsuit. A twiggy chorus of hands lifts, turning slightly, then shifts apart again. Figures sway horizontally, pushed and pulled by the heavy liquid mass around them. Accompanied by a minimalist score of growing intensity, this is mesmeric watching.

Pond, a piece by Helsinki-based integrated dance company Kaaos Dance, takes place in the spa area of a hotel some 20-odd kilometres outside of the city. We audience members first encounter each other on a coach outside Madhouse theatre, which is hosting the event. During the journey through a bleak January afternoon landscape of dirty snow and black trees, we are instructed to turn off our smart phones and invited to relax into a ‘retreat’, an experience aiming taking us out of the real world for a short while. (more…)

Dancin’ Oxford’s annual Spring Festival offers something for everyone. From international choreographers, to free outdoor experiences, a Dance-A-Thon, professional and amateur companies, plus shows for children and workshops, Dancin’ Oxford 2017 has programmed a festival of treats.

Now in its 11th year and funded by Oxford City Council and Arts Council England, Dancin’ Oxford goes from strength to strength. Claire Thompson, Oxford City Council Dance Officer said “We find that each new festival is rewarding in so many ways. Oxford’s vibrant dance scene love it as do many people who have never experienced dance before. The free dance event in the city brings a variety of dance styles to the shoppers some of whom have been known to join in.’

Dancin’ Spaces (4 March), in and around the City Centre, is a variety of programmed dance performances and promenade pieces. Shoppers might find they are chosen to be ‘protected and defended’ by dancing Bodyguards, discover a dance about football fusing hip hop with contemporary dance, watch a performance for children in the Museum of History of Science or a duet in the Weston Library foyer. All this runs alongside a plethora of local dance companies which will entertain and delight shoppers. (more…)

DANSOX presents a lecture on major twentieth-century choreographer John Cranko, by Dr Julia Buhrle (Oxford).

John Cranko (1927-1973) was a South African born ballet dancer and choreographer with the Royal Ballet companies who went on to lead the Stuttgart Ballet.  The creator of entertaining shorter early works such as Pineapple Poll and Lady and the Fool, he is perhaps most internationally famous for his much loved and performed “literary” ballets, which include Romeo and Juliet (1962), with music by Prokofiev; Onegin (1965), an adaptation of the verse novel by Alexander Pushkin, with music by Tchaikovsky; and the sparkling comedy The Taming of the Shrew (1969).

Date:  Thursday 23rd February 5.30pm

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

There will be a drinks reception after the event. Free and open to all – booking essential at Eventbrite.

Book your place here

Find information about DANSOX here or by contacting Dr Susan Jones here

Last year saw the revival of a little known late work by the renowned choreographer Kenneth MacMillan by the enterprising company Yorke Dance Project as part of their programme of works old and new, Rewind Forward.   Sea of Troubles based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet was originally created for Dance Advance in 1988, a company founded by a group of six dancers who broke away from the Royal Ballet with the intention of creating and performing new ballet based work on a more intimate scale.  Their venture was supported by MacMillan whom they commissioned to create a new work for the company’s first programme.  Sea of Troubles toured small venues and was performed by Dance Advance across the UK, later in Spain, Germany and China.  Scottish Ballet adopted the work two years later but it remains a work that is seldom seen.  DANSOX presents original cast member Susie Crow and Yolande Yorke-Edgell with dancers of Yorke Dance Project in a rehearsal/lecture demonstration exploring how this fascinating work has been brought back to life for a new generation of dancers.

Date:  Thursday 16th February, 5.30-7.00pm

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

The event will be followed by a drinks reception. Free and open to all – booking essential at Eventbrite.

Book your place here

Find more information about DANSOX (Dance Scholarship Oxford) here

or by contacting Dr Susan Jones here

And find more information about Yorke Dance Project here

A welcome opportunity to see The Royal Ballet perform Wayne McGregor‘s Woolf Works in live transmission from the Royal Opera House at Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse on Wednesday 8th February.

‘Life is not a series of gig-lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end… the proper stuff of fiction is a little other than custom would have us believe it.’ – Virginia Woolf, Modern Fiction

Wayne McGregor’s ballet triptych Woolf Works, inspired by the writings of Virginia Woolf, met with critical acclaim on its premiere in 2015, and went on to win McGregor the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Classical Choreography and the Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production. The Observer described it as ‘a compellingly moving experience’; for The Independent it ‘glows with ambition… a brave, thoughtful work’; The Guardian concluded that ‘it takes both McGregor – and the concept of the three-act ballet – to a brave and entirely exhilarating new place’.

Each of the three acts springs from one of Woolf’s landmark novels: Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves – but these inspirations are also enmeshed with elements from her letters, essays and diaries. Woolf Works expresses the heart of an artistic life driven to discover a freer, uniquely modern realism, and brings to life Woolf’s world of ‘granite and rainbow’, where human beings are at once both physical body and uncontained essence. Woolf Works was McGregor’s first full-length work for The Royal Ballet, and saw him reunited with regular collaborator Max Richter, who provides a commissioned score incorporating electronic and orchestral music.  This performance by the ballet’s original cast will feature the legendary and luminous Alessandra Ferri in the central role; and the transmission will be rescreened on Monday 13th February as part of the ROH Encore strand.

Date:  Wednesday 8th February, 7.15pm; Monday 13th February 12.oo midday

Venue:  Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton St, Oxford OX2 6AE

Tickets:  £22 adult, £10 child, £17.50 student or retired, £64 family ticket 8th February; £17.50 adult, £10 child, £15 student or retired, £55 family ticket 13th February

Book online here

Lucy Suggate and James Holden’s performance of Pilgrim, an investigation into what it is to lose yourself in music, is unforgettable. The theatre was dimly lit, the light diffused by a tinge of pink and blue, with chairs arranged around the edge of the room to leave as much performance space as possible. It was a wet night, and our shoes left damp patches on the dance floor as we edged around it to our seats, but fortunately Lucy Suggate is a ‘terpsichore in sneakers’ – literally – wearing tracksuit bottoms and a long dark shirt buttoned to the neck, which in time she removes revealing a gleaming mosaic-encrusted evening top. (more…)