October 2012

In the face of Michael Gove’s initiative to replace GCSEs with the new EBacc,  the Bacc for the Future campaign is organising a petition which now has increasing support among the arts community and institutions:
“The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) threatens the very future of creative subjects – like Music, Art, Design & Technology, Drama and Dance.  By missing them off its list of core areas children must study, the Government is undermining their place at the heart of learning.
Your voice is vital to help change this.  Without them, our children will be denied the balanced education they need to grow and thrive. Without them, the skills that drive our creative economy will be lost.” (more…)

This Friday 2nd November, a chance to see Lost Dog‘s Place Prize winning duet It Needs Horses at the Corn Exchange in Newbury, alongside the company’s newest work Home for Broken Turns.  Blackly comic and highly physical dance theatre performed by an international cast of performers from some of Europe’s most reputable dance and physical theatre companies, including Hofesh Schechter Company, Fabulous Beast and Gecko.  It Needs Horses tells the tale of a down at heel circus duet and their increasingly desperate attempts to entertain the crowd… (more…)

The Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake, broadcast live from the Royal Opera House to the Phoenix Cinema, Oxford. 23 October 2012.

As Zenaida Yanowsky slowly unfolds her leg in a high développé devant, she seems to float for a moment before she rises and subsides, caught and supported by Nehemiah Kish as she falls backwards.   This is a very trusting partnership between Kish, an elegant dancer with beautiful line, and the lyrical Yanowsky.   Kish’s Siegfried is a sincere prince, who loves Odette, but has no chance against Yanowsky’s Odile:  her fouettés and virtuoso steps embody deceit, and she suffuses the most ordinary step, such as a posé turn, with cunning. (more…)

Joe Lott writes:

At the Flourish Dance Scratch Night, at the Pegasus Theatre on Saturday 3rd November, you can see the latest work from: Marina Collard, Joe Lott Dance, Ana Barbour, Jenny Parrott and Emma Webb. (more…)

Last Saturday 13th October I went with much curiosity and anticipation to the newly formed Female Choreographers’ Collective (FCC) platform performance “We Face Forward” at St. Paul’s Church in Covent Garden.  Formed by two enterprising choreographers Holly Noble and Jane Coulston, the FCC is asking questions about the persistent invisibility of the work of women choreographers, rarely commissioned or programmed by established mixed repertoire companies, and lacking the media profile of their fashionable male counterparts.  Ask yourself how many current male choreographers of national standing you can name – and then name female choreographers of similar status.  Harder, isn’t it? (more…)

Another chance coming very shortly to see  a particularly moving work as part of the Kicking the Bucket Festival.  Cecilia Macfarlane is an international Oxford based dance artist. This solo piece, “I’ll leave you to yourself then…”, devised and performed by Cecilia is a reflection on surviving the first two years after the death of her son Gus. Also on show will be Cecilia’s sculptures exploring the same themes.

“Astonishingly life affirming”- Henrietta Leyser. (more…)

Experienced improviser and composer Malcolm Atkins shares his recent practice working with dancers, and raises intriguing questions about the relationship between dance and music…

Improvised music for improvised dance

As part of my practice of accompanying dance I regularly improvise for Café Reason Butoh Dance Theatre Classes. These improvisations which are solo responses to exercises and pieces developed in class, have evolved over the years I have been doing this. I was asked to record some by the class organisers and have started doing this and making them available as free downloads on a bandcamp site I set up in my name.

I have made them freely available so that anyone attending the class can develop their ideas between classes by being reminded of what they were working on but also to demonstrate that spontaneous musical improvisation in support of dance can create a very particular musical atmosphere which is often determined by the style of dance and the way the dancer stimulates and responds to a dynamically created musical accompaniment. (more…)

DESH, Akram Khan Company,  Sadler’s Wells, Monday 8 October 2012

A lantern light wobbles and winks into the blackness, crossing from downstage left.  We can just make out Akram Khan’s figure, and in complete silence he moves centre stage.  The lamplight steadies as he puts it down.  Suddenly, the stillness is shockingly cracked open, splitting the darkness as something crashes onto the stage.  As the lights come up, we see that Khan is striking the ground with a huge hammer, again and again, faster and faster. (more…)

After a summer of invisible dance here in Oxford (see The summer of big and small) autumn arrived with some unexpected riches.  Good things in small packages were a couple of classy programmes of dance at the Burton Taylor Studio; the mesmerising Aakash Odedra in Rising, and the very likeable Yorke Dance Project. Before that Candoco at the Playhouse were inspiring and exemplary in performance of a richly varied triple bill of works by Javier de Frutos, Wendy Houston and Trisha Brown, whose Set and Reset was reset specially for the company, marking its 20th birthday.

But I was saddened and puzzled by the small audiences for these high quality and thoroughly enjoyable live dance shows. (more…)

La Sylphide: broadcast live from the Bolshoi to the Phoenix Picturehouse Oxford, 30 September 2012

This was a lively and highly enjoyable performance, well acted, and danced with charm and some humour by a technically dazzling company. As the Sylph, Ekaterina Krysanova’s bourrées rippled across the stage and her ballon, light landings and soft pliés made her seem a truly aerial creature. Vyacheslav Lopatin (James) gave a convincing performance as a man obsessed with seeking the unobtainable, and there were strong performances from Denis Savin (Gurn), Anna Rebetskaya (Effie) and Irina Zibrova (Madge). (more…)