May 2011

Ballet in Small Spaces new works Inside Out and Commedia at the North Wall 20th/21st May
Sue Ash writes:

What a triumph… a fascinating evening of dance.

In the first piece (Inside Out) we are treated to the stripped down beauty of ballet technique – at close range, in small theatre spaces, you can really appreciate the strength, power and beauty of the Art, performed by seven excellent professional dancers.

In the second piece (Commedia) the group perform a delightful interpretation of the interplay between children in a dreamlike play of commedia dell’arte characters. This piece works on many levels, it is entertaing and amusing, the costumes are splendid, while there are classical references to earlier great dance works, including Apolllo, Pierrot Lunaire and Giselle.

This is an opportunity not to be missed for anyone who might be intrigued by dance.

The Oxford-based experimental dance group, Café Reason Butoh Dance Theatre, who have a longstanding reputation for compelling and original performances, return to the splendidly-refurbished Pegasus Theatre on the 3rd and 4th of June with their new show Matrix. Grown out of Café Reason’s popular, quarterly ‘Diamond Night’ arts showcase at Oxford Brookes University, which has given individual members of the collective an opportunity to develop their choreographic skills, Matrix presents a sparkling array of solos, duets, and ensemble pieces that offer audiences a tantalising glimpse into the distorting butoh mirror. Onstage, a series of alternative little worlds unfold, with their unique qualities of drama, mystery, humour, or pathos, and their own interior logic, while, in the shiny new foyer, café, and other public spaces of the theatre, the strange inhabitants of these worlds may also be encountered. In this show, Café Reason are allowing the enigmatic butoh experience to spill out of the confines of the stage and flow into everyday reality, while at the same time celebrating the new theatre space.

Guided by the mistress of ceremonies ‘Ma Trixie’, the audience is invited to enter the butoh world and meet its strange and intriguing inhabitants. Onstage, a succession of varied short performances play out the logic of alternative realities, where the rules are not quite as we know them, while before the show and in the interval, in the foyer and other public spaces of the theatre – ‘out of the box’ – some of these diverse characters may also be encountered.
Each item has been devised and developed by a different member of Café Reason, so both the outward style of performance and the inner world of the performers are richly varied. However, all the pieces have been shaped by the fully-committed, rigorous approach of butoh practice, which seeks physical authenticity and emotional integrity, in order, through movement, to state something about what it is to be human.

Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th June, 8.00pm
Tickets £10, (£8 concessions, £6 under 18)
Box Office: 01865 812150
Pegasus Theatre, Magdalen Road, Oxford OX4 1RE

This week Ballet in Small Spaces premieres two new works by Susie Crow; Inside Out is set to Alan Bush’s 24 Preludes for piano, a rare chance to hear and see this beautiful music interpreted by pianist Peter Jacobs and a team of talented professional dancers. Commedia, from an idea by and in memory of theatre director Sebastian Graham-Jones, takes its inspiration from the fantasy paintings of Claude Harrison featuring commedia dell’arte characters in landscapes, and is set to Robin Holloway’s Serenade in C played by the Exuberant Players. Designs by Ellen Stewart and lighting design by Guy Hoare. Supported by Oxfordshire charity the Exuberant Trust, and the National Lottery through Grants for the Arts.

Performance schedule:
18 May The Castle, Wellingborough (2.00pm matinee and 7.30pm evening)
20 -21 May North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, 7.30pm
31 May The Theatre, Chipping Norton, 7.45pm Harlequin Dances programme
2 June Cornerstone Arts Centre, Didcot, 7.30pm Harlequin Dances programme
25 June The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, 7.30pm Harlequin Dances programme

Harlequin Dances provides a playful introduction to ballet in relation to music. Dances from Inside Out are presented by Susie Crow with musical interludes from the Exuberant Players, followed by a complete performance of Commedia.

Venues are intimate, seats are limited, so book soon to avoid disappointment!

As part of Oxford ArtWeeks, and accompanying performances, the North Wall Gallery hosts the related exhibition “Drawing the dance, dancing the image” 16th-28th May. This includes a selection of Claude Harrison’s ambiguous and evocative paintings and interpretations of them for the stage by designer Ellen Stewart, in juxtaposition with drawings by established local artists Clare Bassett, Antonia Bruce, Kassandra Isaacson and Susan Moxley revealing line, movement and expression captured in the dancing moment, part of ongoing Drawing Dance activity in Oxford.