June 2019


As part of the Oxford Offbeat Festival, the Sona Lisa Dance Company performed Eleven, twelve, thirteen at The Old Fire Station, a series of dances and spoken reflections based around the traditional rhythms of Indian Kathak. It was a fascinating program, impressive in its professional standard and its often breath-taking beauty; a show of multiple collaborations, devised and woven together by Artistic Director Sonia Chandaria Tillu.

Kathak is the Hindustani name for one of the eight major forms of Indian classical dance. The origin of Kathak is traditionally attributed to the traveling bards of ancient northern India known as Kathakars or storytellers.  It is important to the art of these North Indian dances that they communicate an entire story through non-verbal actions and bodily movements: head turnings, eye glancings, finger shapings, distinctive torso positions from squats to turns and leaps. The intricacies of the stories must be honoured, as well, by the costume colours, the breathing, the hair style and its ornaments of flowers and/or jewels. All the visible details of deportment and dress signify elements of the dramatic story. (more…)

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The DANSOX Inaugural Summer School will be taking taking place 6-8th July at St Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, attracting a unique mix of dance academics and artist practitioners in a rich programme of seminars, practical lecture demonstrations and special dance film and book presentations.

Alastair Macaulay, former Chief Dance Critic at the New York Times, leads the three-day event with lectures on three master choreographers: Petipa, Balanchine and Cunningham.  Seminars will include presentations by dance scholars including Julia Bührle, Renate Bräuninger, Gabriela Minden, Margaret Watson, Fiona Macintosh and Tom Sapsford.  Lecture demonstrations will include Moira Goff on 17th century and baroque dance, Susie Crow and pianist Jonathan Still on the ballet class (with dancers Ben Warbis and Ellie Ferguson of Yorke Dance Project), and Jennifer Jackson with composer Tom Armstrong on music and choreographic practice.  Sir Richard Alston will talk about the influence of Merce Cunningham on his work, including a solo performance by Elly BraundLynne Wake will present her recent film Bejart and Queen, and the event culminates in the eagerly anticipated launch of Nadine Meisner‘s biograpy of Marius Petipa.

Dates:  Saturday 6th -Monday 8th July 2019

Venue:  St Hilda’s College, Cowley Place, Oxford OX4 1DY

To celebrate the inauguration of this special event, DANSOX is offering one-off specially discounted tickets: £15.00 daily ticket, £30.00 for a three-day ticket.
All are welcome. Come for a day or two, or for the whole three days. Refreshments and lunch provided for ticket holders.
Booking essential at Eventbrite https://dansoxsummerschool.eventbrite.co.uk

Download the full programme here

Accommodation available in St Hilda’s College – contact Sarah Brett
Further information from the Programme Director: Professor Susan Jones.

We hope to see you there!

 

There had been torrential rain earlier in the day, and so I wore walking boots and wet weather gear to go to Gemma Peramiquel’s site–specific work Botanic Dance (part of Oxford Green Week) in South Park. Would the performance take place at all, we wondered, but there was a notice at the gate on Morrell Avenue telling us to follow the red arrows, and so we made our way across the huge expanse of damp grass to the copse at the top of the rise. The cast, children, teenagers and adults dressed in black leggings, assorted green tops and white sneakers, greeted us. We sat on a fallen tree trunk, surrounded by a semi circle of freshly planted flowering pot plants.

Then the music started (improvised on a fiddle with percussion, and later on a squeeze-box). We were asked to turn round, and saw the dancers who had secretly gathered behind us moving among the trees, interacting with them as well as dancing around them, almost treating them like partners. (more…)

Images Ballet Company presented a programme of joyful, colourful and musical work at Didcot Cornerstone Theatre on Thursday. Interlacing originality with tradition, the opening work, Interplay by Mikaela Polley, set the tone for the evening as light gradually bathed the backdrop in blue, revealing percussionist and composer Martin Pyne upstage right, and seven dancers stage left, silhouetted in beautifully placed classical ballet poses.

Images is the company of London Studio Centre’s graduating ballet students (six women, two men this year) and it gave the dancers the chance to work with four different choreographers on new works, exploring ballet as a means of expression and communication. The light hearted Interplay, with its changes of direction and use of pointe and swift, darting petit allegro was full of friendly interactions between the dancers. (more…)

Oxford’s Offbeat is a festival of brand-new theatre, comedy, dance, family shows, spoken word and music.  A collaboration between Oxford Playhouse and Arts at the Old Fire Station now in its 3rd edition, it offers a host of opportunities to see something which wouldn’t usually come here.  It’s a blind date with a show you could fall in love with – right on your doorstep.

Take a chance on something exciting. This year’s festival runs from Monday 17th to Saturday 29th June with performances across the Old Fire Station and Burton Taylor Studio.  Here is a list of the dance shows:

Eleven, twelve, thirteen – Friday 21st June 6.00-7.00pm, Old Fire Station.  Ages 12+. Tickets £10, book online here

Eleven, twelve, thirteen explores the importance of numbers in our lives, from the significance of the number 11 in the world around us through to the iconic era of the Sufis during the 1200s and a light-hearted exploration of the troublesome thirTEENS. The production comprises a variety of original pieces that innovatively combine dance, music and the spoken word, and sprout unique collaborations between UK’s finest young British Asian artists across genres. Sona Lisa Dance Company is a Birmingham (England) based dance company set up by Artistic Director Sonia Chandaria Tillu in 2018, building a dance style and vocabulary based on one of the oldest classical Indian dance forms, Kathak, but speaking to contemporary audiences.

“…I also admired Sonia Chandaria Tillu for the way in which she contained and then released energy… the performance only lasted an hour, but I could have watched these dancers all night.” – Maggie Watson (Oxford Dance Writers) review on Sonia as a guest performer in FACET for Drishti Dance at the Offbeat Festival 2018

Find out more about the production and Sona Lisa Dance Company here

Jane – Saturday 22nd June at 12pm, 1.30pm and 3.30pm, Gloucester Green. Each performance lasts 20 minutes.  All ages, free – just come along.

A new dance theatre piece from Moxie Brawl looking inside the head of pre-Raphaelite artists’ muse Jane Morris. Playing with power, femininity with a touch of art history.  With bright blue costumes that turn into puppets, mesmerising choreography and cheeky performers, this show will brighten up your day as we tell Jane’s story.

‘Gloriously unsubtle’ – The Observer

Findo out more about Moxie Brawl here

A Moment – Tuesday 25th, Wednesday 26th, Thursday 27th June 8.30-9.30pm, Old Fire Station.  Suitable for all ages.  Tickets £10, book online here

‘I used to be interested in clothes, clubs, buying records. And men. Now my life…what life?’  Two performers explore what it was to be gay in the 80s when the UK was full of fear and ignorance, in a response to Bren Gosling’s ‘Moment of Grace’. An intimate duet moving through themes of paranoia, intimacy and oppression. The work also gives thanks to those who made it possible to say “HIV is no longer a death sentence.”

Thomas Page Dances is part of Offbeat’s supported artist programme.

★★★★ “In a different league” – The Sunday Express

Find out more about the production and Thomas Page Dances here

Sound Cistem – Wednesday 26th, Thursday 27th, Friday 28th June 7.00-7.50pm, Old Fire Station Studio. Ages 14+.  Tickets £5, book online here

“These are our bodies. What do you see?”  Two transgender performers say f**k you to the binary, and invite you to their radically queer dance party!  Set in nightclubs, Sound Cistem is an exuberant dance show about the cisgender gaze on the transgender body. Through riotous, glittering disco, shame is rejected and a self-love manifesto made. Unafraid to punch hard, Sound Cistem asks you to see the beauty in these bodies: and your own too.  This is a work in progress.

Plaster Cast Theatre is part of Offbeat’s supported artist programme.

Praise for their previous work:  ★★★★ “Unflinching” – The Scotsman
★★★★ “Gripping” – The List  ★★★★ “Extremely powerful” – North West End
★★★★★ Spectacular” – The Mancunion

Find out more about the production and Plaster Cast Theatre here

This week Didcot’s Cornerstone Arts welcomes Images Ballet Company for the second time, in an evening that highlights the dynamic range and beauty of ballet today.  This company of aspiring ballet professionals with “coltish freshness” (Dancing Times) take centre stage in four exciting works by internationally established and rising choreographers working across the globe today.

Former Scottish Ballet Director Ashley Page creates playful neo-classical dances to music by Britten, while Andrew McNicol draws on Ravel’s lush Miroirs for an intimate portrait of women. Ballet and contemporary dance maker Cameron McMillan pushes balletic lines into fresh classic form and Mikaela Polley and percussionist Martin Pyne collaborate to bring brand new ballet and music together. Vibrant dancing set off with stylish costume and a rich musical palette, including live percussion, promises a performance that will entertain and surprise ballet lovers and newcomers to dance alike.

“Their show was one of the most exciting I’ve seen in years with a wonderful and eclectic choice of repertoire, danced with passion and verve”
-Bruce Marriot, Dance Tabs

Directed by former Royal Ballet soloist, Jennifer Jackson and presented by London Studio Centre, one of the country’s most prestigious performing arts colleges, Images Ballet Company is one of four touring companies made up of final year students – INTOTO DANCE (contemporary dance) THE JAZZ DANCE COMPANY (jazz theatre dance) IMAGES BALLET COMPANY (classical ballet) and SEEDTIME (music theatre).

Founded in 1978 by Bridget Espinosa, London Studio Centre enjoys an international reputation for its outstanding professional theatre training in the performing arts. Students experience exceptional teaching in a vibrant atmosphere at London Studio Centre’s home in the award winning arts centre, artsdepot.

Performance:  Thursday 13th June 7.30pm

Venue:  Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Road, Didcot, Oxon OX11 7NE

Tickets:  £12.50 (concessions £10, Members’ discount 20%)  Book online here or call the Box Office on 01235 515144

Find out more about Images Ballet Company here

 

The final week of April brought thought-provokingly contrasted dance performances to Oxford. On Tuesday 23rd at the New Theatre the BalletBoyz performed their latest programme Them/Us, shortly to be opening for their first West End season at the Vaudeville Theatre. This two-part programme involves all six male dancers in both pieces. Opening the evening Them was a collaborative choreographic venture by the dancers drawing on elements of their own individual movement, sharing them in a succession of often playful episodes and exchanges. Set in a twilight zone, a gleaming stainless steel tubular cube framework and sleek satin shell suits brought enlivening geometric dashes of light and colour, red, blue, green and purple. The cube defined shifting spaces which the dancers could manipulate, inhabit, swing from and climb up. Movement combined sharp crisp gesture with a lyrical contemporary idiom, integrating tumbling and floorwork in response to Charlotte Harding’s lively but dark toned score; suggestions of character and relationship were glimpsed and a feeling of camaraderie and group identity emerged, even if overall the episodic structure of the piece did not build a sense of narrative or situational development. The performers conveyed lithe fluidity and a smooth assurance, distinct from the rawness of previous BalletBoyz ensembles; no longer projecting a company narrative of emerging talent and inexperienced diamonds in the rough, but a polished professional group. (more…)

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