April 2012


University of Surrey Dance Studies presents

DANCING THE INVISIBLE – LATE WORK

A live dance and music event that interweaves set and improvised dances and engages the audience in discussion about maturity, aging and dance

Tuesday 1st & Wednesday 2nd May at 19:30

Ivy Arts Centre , University of Surrey, Guildford

“of all the oppressions, the one that hits dance the hardest is ageism and it is the
last to be explicitly addressed.”
Jackie Lansley and Fergus Early in The Wise Body (2011)

Does the dancing stop when the body ages?
How does the older dancer draw on sensory memory and the imagination to make dances?
What does “mature ballet” look like?
‘what IS a mature dance?’

Jennifer Jackson (Senior Lecturer and ballet choreographer) leads a group of mature dancers with rich careers in companies such as the Royal Ballet, Rambert and Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet in dance performance that investigates these intriguing questions. (more…)

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Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker at the New Theatre, 10th April 2012

Now in its twentieth year, Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker is very prominent in his company’s repertoire. As the overture begins, we are introduced to a succession of plainly dressed, downtrodden orphans – Clara is a child at Dr Dross’s orphanage, a grim Dickensian affair which sees the arrival of its governors one Christmas Eve. It is their distribution of presents, a nutcracker among them, that leads on to Clara’s dream, an elaborate and bizarre fantasy peopled with cakes and sweets and the Nutcracker as a handsome young man. (more…)

A Suitcase for All Occasions – 17th March 2012 at the Old Fire Station

I was not sure what to expect from Paulette Mae’s A Suitcase for All Occasions. It was very well attended, and the atmosphere built up outside as we all waited in the foyer to be let in. The programme seemed to suggest- from Mae’s background and the information we were given- that the three dances would focus on the meaning and unnecessary nature of the material possessions we want and accumulate. The first dance, P.S., seemed more about mother and daughter losing connections than the significance of a dress that the daughter wanted. (more…)

Between, at the Burton Taylor Studio, Friday 24th March

When we entered the Burton Taylor (the tiny studio attached to the Oxford Playhouse, usually given over to student theatre) it was quite dark, apart from a thin shaft of light, and quite empty, apart from the figure of a woman lying in the middle of the floor. We ranged ourselves against the walls, standing. The feeling of anticipation and curiosity is incredible. Suddenly a torch is raised – another woman is caught by its beam in the corner, struggling with a silver coat. The torch bearing man moves round and as it catches the light again the silver glows fiercely, the woman gasps. (more…)

Following the completion of this year’s Dancin’ Oxford Festival, Oxford Dance Writers has great pleasure in announcing the winners of this year’s Dance Writers of the Future competition.  The competition judges were David Bellan, dance critic of the Oxford Times, Susie Crow of Ballet in Small Spaces and Oxford Dance Writers, Penny Cullerne-Bown, Principal of East Oxford School of Ballet, and Miranda Laurence of Dance and Academia. All entrants were in the higher age category and the final winners in a very close contest were as follows:

First Prize: Thomas Stell

Runner-up:  Miranda Frudd

The judges would like to congratulate Thomas for his vibrant account of performance installation Between by Angela Woodhouse and Caroline Broadhead at the Burton Taylor Studio, and Miranda for her thoughtful reflection on Paulette Mae’s A Suitcase for All Occasions at the Old Fire Station.  Both of these winning entries are being posted for you to enjoy.

As part of his prize Thomas received a pair of tickets for Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker at the New Theatre – his review of this successful and popular production will also be posted very shortly… We hope that both winners will be encouraged to contribute further writings on dance to Oxford Dance Writers and look forward to hearing from them again in future.

Well done to all the contestants, and our grateful thanks to the Dancing Times, New Theatre Oxford and Oxford Playhouse for their support of the competition through generous prizes.

Drawing attention once again to dance practitioners’ blogging, for insights into local and professional dance practice, reflection on performances, dance development and creative work gradually taking shape in the studio… (more…)

Apollo’s angels:  a history of ballet / Jennifer Homans

I began reading this book with high expectations.  The author is described as Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Columbia, and quotations on the flyleaf and back cover include statements such as “Here is the only truly definitive history of classical ballet” (International Herald Tribune) and “It will doubtless come to rank as the standard and authoritative work in the field” (Literary Review).  Although it is not published by an academic press, it bears some of the hallmarks of a scholarly work, with its extensive bibliographies, footnotes and evidence of original research.

The early chapters of the book dealt with periods of which I am largely ignorant until on p.39, I came across this footnote:  “Molière was gone:  he died onstage in 1673 while performing Le Malade imaginaire”.  Not so, according to Ivor Guest[1] or the Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, according to which he collapsed on stage and was carried back to his house, where he died.  This concerned me, and from Chapter 8, East goes west:  Russian modernism and Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, when the book moves territory with which I am more familiar, I became progressively more uneasy. (more…)

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