March 2018

A small boy and a man sit facing each other, cross-legged, on one of 21 large oblong boxes. At first, the man seems to be telling a story that is brought to life behind them as a single warrior monk appears centre stage; or perhaps the man is a divine being, or a puppeteer who can manipulate events. Before we can decide, the wooden boxes begin to move, thumping and thudding forwards as they roll towards us on their long sides, revealing openings, like coffins without lids from which living people emerge.

This is an extraordinary collective work for a group of male performers who have none of the physical homogeneity of a corps de ballet, yet seem to think and move as one, as they appear and disappear among, between and inside the boxes. (more…)


In the intimate setting of The North Wall Arts Centre (Oxford), choreographer Ben Wright’s bgroup, in collaboration with the independent theatre studio China Plate, presented a new piece of dance theatre “Point of Echoes”, commissioned by the Rural Touring Dance Initiative (a newly funded initiative aiming to bring contemporary dance to rural areas).

The performance space is a circular and waist-high wooden platform with two slowly slopping access ramps on its outside; it is surrounded at the north and south ends by 4 rows of seats and to the east and west by seat-free galleries. Immediately upon entering, we are intrigued. (more…)

A reminder of the forthcoming Dance Scratch Night presented by Oxford Dance Forum (ODF) in partnership with Arts at the Old Fire Station) on 27th March.  These occasions provide a great opportunity to see work-in-progress by local dancers and groups, and contribute to a feedback discussion with the artists (guided by a facilitator).  Most of the artists presenting are recipients of ODF financial support (through the Evolution programme), which has helped them to develop these dances.

This occasion includes pieces by Ségolène Tarte, Smidgen Dance Company, Jenny Parrott & Unlock the Chains Collective.

Do come along to support the artists, and enjoy a great evening of emerging dance.

Performance:  Tuesday 27th March, 7.30pm

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

Tickets:  £5 through the OFS box office in advance online here or on the door.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Sutra is one of Sadler’s Wells’ most exhilarating productions and has toured around the globe to sell-out audiences and mass critical acclaim.

The award-winning collaboration between choreographer Cherkaoui, sculptor Antony Gormley and 19 Buddhist monks from the Shaolin Temple in China has been seen by over 160,000 people worldwide, achieving standing ovations wherever it has been seen.  This breathtaking spectacle of athleticism explores the philosophy and faith behind the Shaolin tradition and its relationship with kung fu within a contemporary context.

With Antony Gormley’s striking set of 21 wooden boxes and Polish composer Szymon Brzóska’s specially commissioned score performed live, Sutra is an incomparable work that has captured the hearts and imaginations of people the world over, as one of the stage’s most sophisticated productions and a true work of art.

Exceeds even out highest expectations
The Times

This unique, profoundly imagined show takes the concept of cultural exchange to a whole new level
The Guardian

Performances:  Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th March, 7.30pm

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

Tickets:   £11.90-£34.90 plus £4 transaction fee; book online here

A Captivating Performance and an Unmissable Experience

#EndingTheSilence is a tripartite production that builds on the previous work performed by Unlock the Chains Collective. The first part of this performance, #BlackLivesMatter premiered in March 2017 in the Pegasus Theatre. Capitalising on its success, the collective have built on it, developing two following parts, called #Walking on Eggshells and #Rise Up.

For Unlock the Chains Collective, theatre and performance is a fundamentally holistic and immersive experience that doesn’t begin merely when the curtain rises. Walking into the Old Fire Station a little before the performance, I was greeted by a drumming set performed by Natty Mark-Samuels, Francis Boua, and Bawren Tavaziva, which wonderfully hinted towards the rhythm and the energy yet to come in the second part of the performance. (more…)

Based on T.S.Eliot’s Four Quartets, this piece was an impressive performance from a young dancer-choreographer and his fellow artists. The structure was of four separate chapters (one for each section of a poem) which worked well, although there was room for even more space for the audience to assimilate each individual section. The programme described the overall narrative as ‘from a place of being lost to a state of empowerment and acceptance’ and this certainly came across: the figures seemed to be searching and grasping at the start, and by the end they had become more animated, grounded and secure. (more…)

Dance? Mime? Theatre? Peut-Etre . . .

When I was asked to review a children’s show called Tidy Up, I immediately anticipated an hour or so of theatrical fun. I also gleefully anticipated that my children, aged five and nine, would receive a subliminal message that tidiness is COOL! I was not disappointed.

The three Tidy Up performers had a giggling North Wall audience in the palms of their hands from the very beginning, accompanying the slapping of their hands on their bottoms with cheeky, over the shoulder winks. With the performers enjoying themselves, the fun was infectious. (more…)

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