April 2013

To the Female Choreographers’ Collective programme “The Experiment” at the Laban Theatre last Tuesday 23rd April.  FCC’s Holly Noble and Jane Coulston convened a programme of six works, three by male choreographers and three by female, to be anonymously performed, to test the hypothesis that choreographic work is influenced by gender, and to discover if there might be any bias in the audience towards male and female authored works.  The audience filled in anonymous questionnaires about their dance viewing habits and impressions of the works being presented.

The curious can now find out the identities of the featured artists which have been revealed on the FCC website:

A substantial labour of data analysis now lies ahead for the FCC to discover what their lively audience made of the evening; however some forthright comments have already been posted about it on online dance magazine Bellyflop:


Meanwhile the debate about sexism in dance and the invisibility of work by female choreographers has now reached beyond the confines of the dance world thanks to a powerful article by Observer dance critic Luke Jennings:


Scroll down after reading to a succession of thoughtful and passionate postings in response… Add you own or post a comment about this here on Oxford Dance Writers…

Oxfrod based choreographer Hannah de Cancho‘s company Sole Rebel Tap will be reprising their successful show Tapestry, premiered at Pegasus Theatre during this year’s Dancin’ Oxford Festival, at Cassington Village Hall this Saturday 27th April.  This evening of live dance and music offers tap dance with a contemporary edge; the company of six versatile dancers and musician Debian Blak charm their audiences with an explosive and contagious energy. (more…)

An eclectic mix of dance styles, musical genres, and choreographic themes #heretodaygonetomorrow is a cross-section of work from the past year from The Oxfordshire Creative Academy, showing at Pegasus Theatre on Friday 26th April alongside Oxford choreographer Joe Lott’s recent work Chemistry, well received in London at this year’s Resolution! Festival at The Place. (more…)

English National Ballet (ENB) is the only major UK ballet company regularly to visit Oxford, and it is a great pleasure to read the memoire of a dancer who is so familiar to audiences here.

Klimentová states, “I became a ballet dancer by accident rather than by design”.  Born in Prague in 1971, in true Eastern Bloc style, she was picked out at kindergarten as a potential gymnast.  Thanks to the percipience of a ballet teacher at Sparta Prague, she was redirected to the Prague State Conservatoire, where she was schooled in the Vaganova style and fast-tracked to become a soloist.  Klimentová benefitted from the best training and professional start possible in Czechoslovakia before political change enabled her to build a career in the UK. (more…)

Presented by English National Ballet and English National Ballet School, My First Cinderella tells everyone’s favourite rags-to-riches story in a beautifully adapted version for young audiences. Cinderella is tormented by her spiteful stepsisters and longs to attend the Prince’s glamorous ball. Abandoned to an evening of drudgery, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother appears and transforms her into a glittering Princess who shall go to the ball.

The My First… series brings young audiences their first taste of ballet through the magic of fairytales, captivating music and beautiful dance. Prokofiev’s ravishing score is accompanied by narration to ensure everyone enjoys this classic fairy tale, and ENB2 features graduating dancers of outstanding potential from English National Ballet School in performances produced by English National Ballet. (more…)

In 1956, people queued in Covent Garden for three days and nights to buy the 55,000 tickets for the Bolshoi Ballet’s first visit to the West.  Of the thousands that queued for tickets for a further three performances at the Davis Theatre Croydon (capacity 3,500), only about one in four was successful.  Ballet, which had been the elite entertainment of imperial Russia’s privileged classes, had suddenly become the Soviet Union’s most distinctive cultural export.

The survival of ballet in post revolutionary Russia is remarkable in itself.  Challenged by practical problems (lack of food or heat), new proletarian audiences, and intellectual disagreements about the rôle of ballet in the Soviet cultural project, its death seemed inevitable to some.  In spite of its title, this is not a book about the dancers;  it is a book about the environment in which they worked, and the ways in which neither the Kirov or the Bolshoi buckled under the drive for “socialist realism”, which, of course, had little to do with realism. (more…)

Acclaimed choreographer Richard Alston’s company returns to Oxford Playhouse on Tuesday 30 April and Wednesday 1 May with a mixed bill of stunning dance.

Unfinished Business is danced to Mozart’s beautiful and flowing unfinished piano sonata Opus K533, and Gigue in D, accompanied by a live pianist. In Buzzing Round the Hunnisucle, Alston combines two contrasting pieces of music by Kondo in a dance of nimble and breathtaking precision.  The bill is completed by a new work by Martin Lawrence  entitled Madcap. This startling original piece is accompanied by music from ultra-cool New York band, Bang on a Can All-Stars. (more…)

In his novel Our Lives as Kites Marius Hancu traces the peripatetic life and career of a female ballet dancer from her training in Canada through periods as a soloist with major companies to becoming a choreographer commissioned to make work for international ballet companies and events.  The title reflects his heroine Yvonne’s fascination with kites, originally kindled by her father, and the kites serve throughout as a metaphor for the different strands and relationships in her life; flying them becomes an almost choreographic task of keeping them moving freely and untangled.  (more…)