Lizzy Spight attended the January Dance Scratch Night at the Pegasus Theatre to see works in development by local dance artists, including some for Moving with the Times, the Dancin’ Oxford platform.  Audience feedback and discussion was facilitated by Fiona Millward.  Lizzy writes:

The first work in progress was Ellyfish & Things by Elly Crowther and Emma Goodwin; a colourful piece with playful elements around the subject of “Happiness”.  Little nuggets of wisdom are framed by playful short dances which bring up the memory of childhood, including some of its darker sides.  This was originally made for a children’s show, and the artists think that to present it as a duet rather than a  solo brings more out of it by enabling it to represent various relationships, maybe mother and child, or two children?

The second performance, by Jenny Parrott who calls herself “the escape artist”, was rounded and very entertaining from beginning to end.  You could identify with her honest struggles to be creative and meaningful through her art/dance.  The way she talked about it was very funny.  Simple actions and thoughts “out of the blue” became a comical journey into an artist’s, or anybody’s, struggle to put good intentions into action.  I think there is a comedian born here, seriously.  The audience seemed to hang on her lips and be genuinely amused by her dry humour.  Jenny was truly funny which is due to her personality, more than words that were cleverly put together (although it was smart!).

Landscapes for Life performed by John Darvell and Deborah Ann Camp presented the challenges and changes we face in life.  This was a very beautiful and skillful contemporary dance duet by two older dancers who were convincing in elegance and charisma.  You believed their experience in social and emotional landscapes through the years but could also just enjoy the flow of their dance together.  They received very positive feedback from the audience.

The fourth piece, Stones Throw, from the artists Emma Webb and Mallai Monroe-Simpson of AnaMorphic Dance Theatre, was a piece to think about paths, losing track and forgetting things.  Two women (Emma and Mallai) start off with a funny introduction of talking to each other about forgetting, and then forget what they wanted to say… The dance had nice ideas but needs more work and rehearsals (as the artists said themselves).  The audience seemed to love the introduction, and again suggested more connection with the dance.  It was noticed that one dancer was a bit behind in the movement of the duet.  It was seen as an interesting expression of memory and the loss of it.

Piece number five, Mnemosyne/Triple Entendre was also about memory, learning through experience and instinct into a process of new feelings and a development away from repetition.  Two very skilled dancers, Ségolène Tarte and Laura Addison, showed a contemporary dance piece that I loved watching with plenty of interesting creative movement and unexpected angles of development.  The music composed by Malcolm Atkins was a perfect accompaniment, varied, multi-levelled and expressive, portraying different moods.  The question of lighting was at the centre of the discussion.  People thought that the darkness created a sense of fragmentation and was effective, but made the audience miss out on a lot of movement.  The illuminated strings used didn’t really have the effect the dancers hoped for.  It was suggested to play with these (good!) ideas in a bigger space.

Ana Barbour’s piece with Naomi Morris, Inertia, was a further exploration of “stillness and motion, internal and external forces that create rhythms, collisions, stasis and change”.  The whole presentation of projection, dance and use of the body, sound, music, spoken words was a brilliant fusion of expressive tools that Ana and Naomi played with (spot on collaboration with Malcolm Atkins for music and sound).  At the end a boy’s voice says “…more playtime basically!”  Yes, and more to enjoy watching.  There was lively feedback on beautiful images, clever use of technology, the piece built to magical kaleidoscopic effect, projection enhanced movement, association with Chinese landscape.

The last piece, performed by Paulette Mae, Sea Me (In Bits) dealt with inner and outer reality, external environment and personal identity, “the journey of a new language/species coming into being”.  The performer stayed in one spot, but created beautiful fantasy images with projection, torch and strings, that she held and operated like puppet strings.  A story of “moon and fairies”… Simple means to great effect; it left the audience thoughtful and fascinated.

Lizzy Spight