October 2011

New Dances at URC

6.30-8.30pm Saturday 29th October 2011

United Reformed Church Hall, Banbury Road, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7HN

Ballet in Small Spaces hosts an evening of work in progress by Oxford dance artists.  An opportunity for local professionals to show new dances currently under development in a variety of genres from contemporary to flamenco, and to get constructive feedback from colleagues and audience.

Come and find out about the work of exciting dance performers and creators both emerging and established.  Your support and observations can play a valuable part in the process of bringing new choreography to performance.

Featured artists:  Amarita, Susie Crow, Jo Lott, Paulette Mae, Laura Peña, Ségolène Tarte, Helen Wadge, musician Malcolm Atkins and visual artist Clare Bassett

Entry charge:  £5

Refreshments available for a donation

Doors Open from 6.00pm

For further details please contact:

Susie Crow

Tel:  01865 557098    susiecrow@gmail.com


Birmingham Royal Ballet are at Sadler’s Wells this week with classics of British ballet repertoire, not to be missed if you have a chance, a triple bill under the name of Autumn Glory and Ashton’s much loved La Fille Mal Gardee.

Maggie Watson writes:

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Autumn Glory programme was a great treat.  I had never seen Checkmate before, and last saw Symphonic Variations and Pineapple Poll about 40 years ago.  Having said that, I was a little disappointed by the performance of Checkmate that I saw at the Wednesday matinee.  Perhaps I expected too much, but the impression that I had carried with me from photographs that I saw as child was of a more menacing Black Queen and a more intense sense of drama.  Nevertheless, there was much to enjoy in the staging and I loved the petit allegro steps of the red pawns, whose sense of the geometry of the choreography had to be impeccable on the chessboard stage.  Symphonic Variations, on the other hand, was outstanding, and completely lived up to my memories. The restraint, the unity of music, set and dance and the complete lack of extraneous material or adornment made it an intensely moving experience, and it was worth travelling to Sadlers Wells just for those 21 minutes.  The final ballet, Pineapple Poll, was delightfully danced with great humour and charm, but for me, anything after Symphonic Variations was bound to be an anticlimax.

Diamond Night

Friday, October 21, 8pm

Pegasus Theatre, Magdalen Road, Oxford OX4 1RE

The latest in a two-year series of quarterly arts evenings, curated by Café Reason Butoh Dance Theatre, Diamond Night is an informal platform for sharing new performance ideas, choreographies, interactions, and experiments. With an eclectic mix of dance and music, together with video and spoken word, Diamond Night aims to bring uncut performance gems to a wider audience. Some parts of this performance include nudity.

Café Reason is an experimental performance group specialising in butoh, the iconoclastic dance form that originated in postwar Japan. Based in Oxford, Café Reason is the only permanent butoh company in the UK outside London and has achieved a fine reputation for its innovative theatre, site-specific and improvised performances. From its establishment in 1997, Café Reason has been committed to an ongoing process of exploration. Its work increasingly displays a synergy with other artists and art forms, combining dance with original music, poetry, installation art, and video: Diamond Night is intended to further this collaboration.

Cost:  Free

Book Online or call 01865 812150


Visit the Cafe Reason website


Packed in to the New Theatre on Saturday night to see English National Ballet’s newly downsized Strictly Gershwin.  This glitzy extravaganza, originally made for in the round presentation in the Royal Albert Hall, has now entered ENB’s standard repertoire in reduced scale for proscenium arch presentation, and it will be relentlessly touring regional venues for the next few months.  And by the look of it, contributing staunchly to ENB’s coffers, badly depleted in this time of cuts.  With sell-out shows this production seems to have reversed a trend of disappointing audiences for visiting ballet companies in Oxford.

I am intrigued to know exactly what it is that brought Oxford audiences in to this show in such numbers.  This was the premiere of the reduced version, so not a production already known and loved; yet it was booked out before local word of mouth recommendation might operate to increase ticket sales.  Nor did it boast the fail-safe name of the Nutcracker or other famous and universally recognised fairytale ballets.  Nor can it be the appeal of the New Theatre as a venue, hot and cramped, worryingly congested and lacking in gangway access for a full house, and with ticket prices irritatingly inflated by additional booking charges.

Yet there were canny ingredients which may have attracted more than the ballet faithful.  The inclusion on stage of a big band and singers; that word “Strictly” in the title (although the night we were there ENB was in direct competition with its namesake on BBC1); a flyer image of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; or perhaps a higher profile for ENB and the production’s director and choreographer Derek Deane following their Agony and Ecstasy TV programmes?  At a time when dance needs to maximise its box office appeal as a buttress against funding cuts, what do you think it is that made people buy tickets for this show?  If you saw it, what do you think was particularly appealing about it?

Answers on a posting please…

Forthcoming: brand new intergenerational dance work commissioned by Pegasus

Oxford dance artist and choreographer Cecilia Macfarlane and musician Melissa Holding join with Japanese dance company WaLEwale wOrks led by Manizia to direct 18 Japanese and 18 English dancers and musicians of all ages as together they conjure a unique performance. Music will be composed and played by artists from both groups.

WaLEwale wOrks are an intergenerational dance company (very much like Oxford’s Crossover) and have dancers ranging from 10 to 85 years old! The company will be working with Cecilia and Melissa intensively for 3 days to create the performances presented at Pegasus on Wednesday 26th, Thursday 27th and Friday 28th October.

This performance, the first of many collaborations between Pegasus and Arts at the Old Fire Station, was originally going to take place at the Old Fire Station but will now be taking place at Pegasus.

19.30-21.30 26th, 27th, 28th October

Pegasus Theatre, Magdalen Road, Oxford OX4 1RE

Tickets: £7, £5 concession, £4 U18

Tel: 01865 812150