Donald Hutera has brought Oxford a remarkable programme of innovative dance, which is also an exciting opportunity to see local artists’ work in a broader context.

The evening opened with Marina Collard’s And So It Goes On, a beautifully thought out dance that combined live performance and film. Collard danced in relation to her filmed image, projected onto the brick wall at the back of the stage, in a work full of subtle reflections and repetitions. Elegant, intense, yet restrained, the vertical focus of the live dance on the flat floor in front gained an added dimension from the video beside it, not only because there seemed to be a second dancer moving in a different plane, but also because the feeling of a raked stage at a different angle behind. Next, Oxford hip hop dancers Beat Street followed with Heart Cry, a graceful and surprisingly gentle work performed by three young men, who used the genre in an original and unusual way. The third work was Hanna Wroblewski’s My Heart became this Monster. It opened with Wroblewski stage right, sitting surrounded by a voluminous skirt from which her bare torso rose like a mermaid from the sea. At first it was as if just her back danced as she writhed and undulated. This was a disturbing and puzzling piece, with echoes of sea monsters, crashing waves embedded in it.

After the interval, Mara Vivas’ solo Trace also began with her seated embedded, perhaps trapped, in a skirt from which she finally, surreptitiously, escaped. A stylish dancer, her precision, gestures and swiftly changing dynamics, to evocative Latin music, were suggestive of past experience and stories. Local Oxford choreographer Cecilia Macfarlane’s work for Crossover Intergenerational Project followed. Taut, a work for four dancers working with cellist Jacqueline Johnson was a rare chance to see dancers of different ages performing on an equal footing. It opened with each dancer giving the end of a ball of string to a member of the audience to hold, while the dancers unwound the thread and wittily responded to the sound of the cello with their own strings making a cat’s cradle. The evening closed with Sarah Kent’s Angel Delight. Funny, both verbally and physically, this monologue could only have been performed by a dancer, and used commentary on the earlier parts of the programme to raise questions about sincerity, the intention of the artist and what is or is not authentic.

There is still time to catch this unmissable programme on Thursday 16 July, and there will be a second equally promising programme on Friday and Saturday.[1]

Maggie Watson

15th July 2015

[1] https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/show/?eventid=3384

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