April 2019


Fresh from a sold-out week run at the Barbican, Rhiannon Faith’s current work, Smack That (a conversation), has been touring the UK to critical acclaim, and will be performed at Oxford’s Burton Taylor Studio on 25th April.  Rhiannon Faith is a socially conscious contemporary dance artist whose work is an agent for discourse and change; she makes form-defying autobiographical shows that have guts, and that take guts.  Her creative process draws  stories from the communities and artists she works with. The result is work which uses dance and theatre (in their widest meanings) to take the audience on a narrative led journey, which is both challenging and accessible.

In Smack That Beverly is having a party and you are one of her guests. Each member of the all-female cast fearlessly takes on the persona of Beverly to convey real experiences.  The unusual setting creates a safe space for them to reveal the turbulence and challenges they have faced and celebrate their endurance with the audience. Expect games, dancing, humour and a very raw and honest account of domestic abuse.

Rhiannon Faith’s work often involves a wide range of collaborating partners including a psychologist, a neuroscientist, a domestic abuse charity, and most recently a philosopher on virtue ethics and moral psychology.  Smack That (a conversation) has also been published by Oberon Books as an instructional dance play.

Performance:  Thursday 25th May 7.30pm

Venue:  Burton Taylor Studio, Gloucester Street, Oxford OX1 2BN

Tickets:  £10 Book online here, or call the Oxford Playhouse Box Office on 01865 305305

Duration:  1 hour 20 minutes with no interval

Age Guideline:  18+

Find out more about Rhiannon Faith here

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THE internationally lauded dance troupe BalletBoyz return to the New Theatre Oxford this Spring with Them/Us, an innovative double bill and a brand new collaboration from the company’s own critically acclaimed dancers and the Olivier Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon.  BalletBoyz are known worldwide for their ground-breaking live performances, films and TV appearances. The new productions are both set to original scores by world-class composers and asks where we see ourselves in relation to the “other”.

Marking a first for BalletBoyz, Them is the work of the company’s very own in-house talent, and set to a score by emerging composer Charlotte Harding. Us is inspired by the critically acclaimed Christopher Wheeldon duet featured in the company’s last show, Fourteen Days. With an extended score by cult singer/songwriter, Keaton Henson, Christopher Wheeldon develops this new work which explores the possibilities of before, during and after.

Christopher Wheeldon, choreographer for Us, said: “I’m relishing the opportunity to work with BalletBoyz again to create a new work that expands on my previous work with the company, Us. It’s a pleasure to be working with Keaton Henson once again after his music for Us inspired me to investigate a new style of movement.”

The current BalletBoyz Company includes: Sean Flanagan, Benjamin Knapper, Harry Price, Liam Riddick, Matthew Sandiford and Bradley Waller.

Performance:  Tuesday 23rd April 7.30pm

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

Tickets:  £13.00 – £35.00 plus £3.65 transaction fee

Book online here or in person from the Box Office, or call 0844 871 3020

Running time:  1 hour 20 mins (more…)

This luxurious large scale coffee table book celebrates an icon of British ballet, but within a wider context than life as member of a major company. The young Darcey Bussell shot to stardom at the Royal Ballet when, still a teenager, she was selected by Kenneth MacMillan to create the central role of Princess Rose in his ballet of 1989 The Prince of the Pagodas; after its premiere becoming the company’s youngest principal dancer. Her elegantly long physique and sunny charm coupled with technical clarity, strength and assurance enabled her to shine not only in ballet’s classic 19th century repertoire but also in major works by MacMillan and Ashton, Balanchine and Christopher Wheeldon. She retired from the Royal Ballet at the age of 38 but has managed to make a seamless transition to a wider career as a much loved celebrity, exploring other dance genres in performance and on television, but also as a presenter of dance transmissions and documentaries, and perhaps most famously of late as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing. (more…)

Nick Higham’s interview with Darcey Bussell in the Sheldonian Theatre was the only dance-related event in this year’s Oxford Literary Festival, and it was sold out. I was sitting right at the top, next to a family with two small girls, who were very anxious about whether they would be able to see. Happily, we turned out to be on the best side of the Gallery, and had a good view of Bussell, who seemed to be channelling her inner Audrey Hepburn, in slacks, pumps and a polka-dot blouse.

Higham opened the discussion by talking about her book Darcey Bussell: Evolved, which is a collection of images of Bussell in locations ranging from the top of the Albert Memorial to the London Eye. Higham asked what it is like to be a photographer’s muse, to which Bussell replied that it is part of the job of promoting her art form. (more…)

‘I’m always accused of dealing only with sex and violence but what I really deal with is life and death.’  Thus quoted Monica Mason, opening the St Hilda’s College/DANSOX Conference Kenneth MacMillan: Making Dance Beyond the Boundaries held on Saturday 16th March 2019.

Dame Monica, former Principal Dancer and Director of the Royal Ballet Company, was just one of many sharing their memories of MacMillan and his creative approach at this smörgåsbord of delights blending academic research, choreography and performance. On a wet and windy day, in political and climatic times that can sometimes feel reminiscent of the dark events triggered at Mayerling, we were treated to talks by MacMillan’s widow Deborah on how MacMillan worked with designers, Guest Lecturer Natalie Wheen on his innovative use of music, choreologists on how Benesh notation helps to preserve his choreography, and academic specialists on his historical imagination. The conference concluded with excerpts from a reconstruction of Playground by Yorke Dance. (more…)

The DANSOX Conference Kenneth MacMillan: Making Dance Beyond the Boundaries was an opportunity to reflect on and discover more about one of the twentieth century’s greatest choreographers. It was attended by distinguished practitioners and scholars in dance, and generously open to the wider University and general public.

Dame Monica Mason and Deborah, Lady MacMillan gave insights into what it was like to work with Kenneth MacMillan, his interest in contemporaneous events in society and the arts, his willingness to engage with designers new to the theatre, and his relationship with and support from Ninette de Valois. (more…)