April 2014


It is a great privilege to see one of the great ballets of the 21st century so early in its history. I did not witness the original production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, nor of The Rite of Spring; but I have seen the very first production of Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale and that is a truly special thing.

To explain why this particular ballet is so special is very difficult. It was danced beautifully of course, to a standard of excellence which we have come to expect from the Royal Ballet, and the costuming and scenery were meticulous, as they so often are. And yet, I have struggled immensely to write this review. In desperate times I draw on my old friend, cliché: words cannot begin to describe the exquisite nature of this ballet; it has to be seen to be believed! (more…)

It seems there comes a point in every choreographer’s career when one decides to tackle The Rite of Spring.  To create one’s own Rite of Spring, in the shadow of such heavyweights as Nijinsky, Bausch and MacMillan, is brave to say the least. Michael Keegan-Dolan’s The Rite of Spring for his company Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre is not only brave in this regard: it is daring in its deviance from the traditional narrative and in some of the striking, and dare I say, more outlandish decisions, which are also a feature of the second piece in the performance, Petrushka. (more…)

A chance to see one of Oxford’s most engaging and idiosyncratic dancers, Flavia Coube, in an evening hommage to two composers who have challenged, inspired and influenced numerous choreographers…  OVADA Stammtisch presents An evening with… John Cage, Erik Satie and Oxford Improvisers this week at the OVADA Gallery.  Oxford Improvisers write:  “It being neither the centenary of Erik Satie nor John Cage (nor of any calendrical significance to either), Oxford Improvisers are celebrating the work of two of the most iconoclastic composers of the twentieth century with an evening of entertainment featuring members of the collective as well as guest dancers, visual artists and the virtual presence of Satie and Cage in film and verbal recording.” (more…)

The Castaways by Barak Marshall tells the story of a cast of twelve characters trapped in a strange, unexplained, seemingly underground limbo. How they have arrived here and how they are to escape are not clear. Their predicament is nonetheless enthralling.

The characters’ individual stories are played out for us in clever choreographed pastiches, and narrated by a cartoonish, mocking emcee: the jilted bride murdering her way though endless fiancés, the would-be lovers too timid to admit their feelings, the destructively passionate Latin couple and other such familiar tropes. The characters seem to have stepped straight off the pages of a particularly sinister children’s story book, although one under-lined by very adult themes of love, war, fear and bitterness. (more…)

Following consultation with our judges, David Bellan dance critic of Oxford Times, Penny Cullerne-Bown Principal of East Oxford School of Ballet, Susie Crow of Oxford Dance Writers and this year’s special guest, dance critic of The Times Donald Hutera, Oxford Dance Writers has great pleasure in announcing the result of the third Dance Writers of the Future Competition.  The prize for the 17 to 22 years category has been awarded to Emily Romain, for her vivid and perceptive review of Barak Marshall’s work The Castaways, performed by Rambert at the New Theatre on March 19th.  Emily is a recent graduate of Oxford University and an aspiring choreographer looking to further her studies in dance.  Her winning entry will be posted here on Oxford Dance Writers and on the website of The Dancing Times.  We look forward to bringing you further pieces of her writing here, and wish her much luck in her future career.  The judges also wish to offer a special commendation to Sergei Kundik, the youngest entrant in this category, for his evocative and heartfelt account of the dance piece This Bitter Earth.

Oxford Dance Writers would like to express its gratitude to the judges for giving this their time and expert consideration, and to Dancin’ Oxford, The Dancing Times, Oxford Playhouse, New Theatre and Oxford University Press for their generous support.  But above all thank you to all entrants for your interest; we very much enjoyed reading your thoughts and impressions, and would encourage you all to keep on observing, thinking and writing about dance; Oxford Dance Writers looks forward to welcoming your further comments and contributions about what you see – keep in touch!

 

A theatre treat for the Easter weekend, Pirates of the Carabina bring Flown, a captivating evening of circus packed with daredevil stunts, madcap humour and brilliant live music presented by the same team who brought the sell-out Petit Mal to the Oxford Playhouse.  A stunning troupe of circus performers and musicians are getting ready to put on a jaw-dropping spectacle. But there’s a problem; no one is prepared and mishaps, disasters and disagreements threaten to wreck the show. An aerialist is still ironing her dress, a cranky diva gets tangled in the rigging and one of the stuntmen is dangling from the lighting bar. Catastrophe is just one wrong move away. (more…)

Café Reason returns this weekend with the 13th in their series of informal platform performances Diamond Nights.  At this Diamond Night, as the company will be trying out material for their upcoming new production The Heart’s Desire – created in collaboration with voice artist Anne L. Ryan – some of the evening will take the form of an open rehearsal. It will be a chance to see part of this work-in-progress and for audience to give some feedback to help the group develop the piece before its full performance at The Old Fire Station on June 13 and 14.  The occasion is also still open for artists who may have work they would like to present and share. (more…)

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