February 2018


Richard Alston Dance Company returned to Oxford this week for one evening at the New Theatre. The programme opened with Martin Lawrance’s Cut and Run, to music by Michael Gordon and Damian LeGassick for ten dancers dressed in ‘urban wear’ with metallic decoration that glinted in the dim light. Starting and stopping, dodging and colliding, they broke out of the purple patch of illumination that seemed at first to confine them, and spread across the darkened stage. An interval of silence, then the lights changed to orange, adding a fresh sense of urgency to their frantic race, until the work concluded, with the dancers once more bathed in a purple glow. (more…)

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Aptly following its recent showing of the documentary film New Wave Ballet, another DANSOX event exploring legendary dance performances on film.  DANSOX welcomes as distinguished guest lecturer Alastair Macaulay, Chief Dance Critic of the New York Times, who will discuss the legendary Fred Astaire’s life and work with illustration and film footage. Not to be missed!

Date:  Thursday 1st March 2018 5.30pm

Venue:  Jacqueline du Pré Building, St Hilda’s College, Cowley Place, Oxford OX4 1DY

Free and open to all, followed by drinks reception
Reserve a seat via: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dansox-lecture-alastair- macaulay-on-fred-astaire-tickets-41211053370

There was much to celebrate tonight at St Hilda’s, when five years of fascinating DANSOX events programmed by Professor Susan Jones coincided with the 125th anniversary of the college that so generously hosts these events. It was a wonderfully inclusive evening that centred round a screening of Lynne Wake’s New Wave Ballet, a documentary film about the early ballets of Kenneth MacMillan, before a packed audience that included members of the college and wider University, participants in the local dance community, practitioners and dance scholars from further afield, Dame Monica Mason, and Deborah, Lady MacMillan.

Wake’s introductory talk vividly described how eager she had been to see Edmée Wood’s films of Royal Ballet productions, her initial disappointment at the poor quality examples that she found, her excitement at discovering the original recordings, and the work involved in their restoration for the Royal Opera House. Her documentary is an outstanding example of the use of archival footage to bring back to life the essence of dances that might otherwise be lost, by showing film alongside interviews with the actual dancers, who know the works from the inside.

Next, Dame Monica spoke about her experiences working with MacMillan, as a dancer and as his répétiteur, noting the wide range of his artistic interests, his willingness to take risks and work with new collaborators, and his ability to reprove but then move on. Almost five years to the day since she spoke at the first DANSOX event celebrating the centenary of The Rite of Spring, she described what it was like to be the Chosen Maiden, dancing between the criss-crossing legs of the corps de ballet as they lay face down on the stage, or being passed from hand-to hand high overhead (an image reminiscent to me of Greek vase paintings of the sacrifice of Iphigenia). I remember seeing her in the role in 1982, and still carry pictures of her performance in my head.

At the reception following the brief question and answer session, St Hilda’s Vice Principal Dr Georgina Paul thanked DANSOX patron Sheila Forbes (the former Principal of St Hilda’s) and proposed a toast to DANSOX’ other patron, Dame Monica, to mark the fact that she is now an Honorary Fellow of the College.

Maggie Watson

19 February 2018

Spring is coming, and with it Oxford’s very own festival of dance Dancin’ Oxford in its 2018 edition.  Lots of fascinating peformances to come with an emphasis on physical theatre and storytelling as well as some tantalising workshops and taster sessions.  See below for Oxford Dance Writers list of performance events and dates in Oxford with links to further information and booking details.  Check out the Dancin’ Oxford website for details of additional performances in Didcot and Banbury, as well as workshops and classes and the Dance and Academia conference. (more…)

Heralding the arrival of Dancin’ Oxford 2018 in an exciting preview event, Euton Daley’s Unlock the Chains Collective presents a powerful evening of dance theatre #Ending the Silence at the Old Fire Station, building on last year’s work commissioned by Dancin’ Oxford #Black Lives Matter.

Unlock the Chains Collective asks: Where are our heroes, history makers and change makers? Why are so many not recognised in our history books or halls of fame?  In the form of a trilogy #Ending the Silence is a protest-for-change style of theatre exploring the Black experience and struggles for justice, equality and human rights:

#Black Lives Matter – a historical reflection juxtaposed with modern day resistance, protest and struggle.

#Walking on Eggshells – struggles, stories and perspectives on surviving.

#Hope – dreams, aspirations and looking forward.

“So original and thought-provoking”  Audience member

The evening starts with drumming in the bar at 7.00pm, before the performance at 7.30pm, and will be followed by a DJ set at 9.00pm.

Unlock the Chains Collective produces dance theatre projects fusing storytelling, performance poetry and design, giving opportunities to Black artists to explore their experience, culture and identity as well as create and showcase work. #Ending the Silence will kick-start a year of remembrance and celebration around the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush from the West Indies at Tilbury Docks in 1948, and with it the first large group of post-war immigration into Britain.

Performances:  Thursday- Saturday 22nd-24th February, 7.00pm for 7.30pm

Venue:  Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2AQ

Tickets:  £10, £8 concessions, Students/under 16s £6

Book online here, or call the Box Office on 01865 263990

Find out more about the company and Euton Daley here

The ever musical Richard Alston Dance Company returns to Oxford with a full programme of new and established works packed full of energy and contrasts, featuring a brand new piece by Associate Choreographer Martin Lawrance alongside two by Richard Alston.

In Cut and Run Lawrance takes his inspiration from contrasting music by two contemporary classical composers, Damian Legassick and Michael Gordon, from the Icebreaker album Terminal Velocity. The fast frenetic rhythms of the music with cool sombre undertones, take the dancers into a world of shadows and swift dodges.  The costumes for Cut and Run have been designed by Filipino fashion designer Jeffery Rogador with whom Lawrance collaborated whilst working with Ballet Manila last year. They have an urban edge and a colour palette of black, silver and gold which the lighting designer Zeynep Kepekli will make shimmer on stage with her beautiful use of light.

The programme also includes Carnaval by Alston, performed to Robert Schumann’s music of the same name, played live by outstanding pianist Faith Leadbetter.  Costumes are by BAFTA Award winning designer Fotini Dimou.

Finally a great Alston favourite, Gypsy Mixture, newly revived for the first time in a decade, set to tracks from Electric Gypsyland – a 21st century take on traditional Balkan folk music. Exhilarating dancing to the infectious music of Romanian and Macedonian gypsy bands will lift your spirits and quicken your pulse.

“Sometimes dance fills the eyes with tears, changes our breathing or makes us laugh — but why? The dancers aren’t depicting emotion, yet we find ourselves powerfully moved… the dancers of the Richard Alston Dance Company… caused a gamut of emotion, just by taking us to the heart of dance itself.”
Alistair Macaulay, The New York Times, February 2017.

Performance:  Tuesday 20th February, 7.30pm

Venue:  New Theatre, George Street, Oxford OX1 2AG

Tickets:  £11.90 – £25.90 plus £2.85 transaction fee

Available online here or call 0844 871 3020

PinDrop Creative & Oxford University Buddhist Society present a fascinating forthcoming event, Journey into Jatakas.  Oxford based Composer/Producer Sebastian Reynolds will be joined by the curator of the Ashmolean Museum’s acclaimed Imagining the Divine exhibition Jas Elsner, Jataka scholar Dr Sarah Shaw and Oxford University Classics scholar Professor Fiona Macintosh for a lunchtime talk on new dance and music production Mahajanaka Dance Drama – a collaboration between internationally renowned artists from Bangkok, Thailand and the UK.  Join in with the discussion facilitated by dramaturg Miranda Laurence to discover Jataka mythology, and how one of the oldest surviving stories in the world has inspired a contemporary re-telling. In the forthcoming production Neon Dance Artistic Director and choreographer Adrienne Hart and composer Sebastian Reynolds collaborate with musicians and dance artists from Thailand and the UK to retell the story of Mahajanaka Jataka, a shipwrecked prince who survives alone at sea until the goddess of the ocean comes to his rescue. Bringing together eastern and western musical traditions, this beautiful show fuses ancient and modern, and will preview at Wiltshire Music Centre on 2nd April 2018.

Date:  15th February 12.00 – 1.00pm

Venue:  Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Free Entrance

Facebook event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1953595548239167/

Tickets for the Mahajanaka Dance Drama preview at Wiltshire Music Centre can be bought here

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