Dance and Academia


Motion & Meaning presented by DANSOX and the Liveness, Hybridity & Noise Series has been an exciting multi-disciplinary collaboration between dancers, choreographers, composers, instrumentalists and audio-visual artists facilitated by a week-long residency at St Hilda’s College. The project culminated last Friday in a ‘showing’ of the work in progress, alongside an exhibition by artist Simon Klein and sculptor Guillaume Klein. Open rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday last week revealed some of the opportunities and challenges intrinsic to truly collaborative work: the importance of grace and generosity in allowing other artists in different media sufficient time and space; the need for mutual respect, and the courteous adjustments to be made to accommodate different etiquettes and conventions. (more…)

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Miranda Laurence is a dramaturg, working mostly with dance makers. In this role she accompanies a director or choreographer during the process of creating a new work, attending to the rhythm of all elements in the piece, and actively noticing responses from the viewer’s perspective.  Miranda is currently undertaking a self-led professional development project in dance dramaturgy funded by Arts Council England.

Here for Oxford Dance Writers Miranda gives a revealing insight into her role in assisting the development of new work within the privacy of the dance studio.

I’m sitting in the faded splendour of Swindon Dance’s main studio, which is adorned with huge vintage mirrors, curlicued window frames and chunky old-fashioned radiators. As usual, I’m tucked away in a corner, sitting on the floor, taking in the size, shape, feel and details of the space around. Out on the floor, two dancers (Thomasin Gülgeç and Estela Merlos) undergo their warm-up, twisting and weaving fluidly through the space, mirroring each other or going off on tangents. I think: “am I earning my money as a dramaturg by watching these dancers warm up? How should I warm myself up?” (more…)

DANSOX and the Liveness, Hybridity & Noise Series join forces for this multi-disciplinary presentation of three new works that stretch the synthetic possibilities of music and dance. Over a four-day residency at St Hilda’s College, one of Holland’s leading contemporary music groups, Ensemble Klang, will be working with three composers from Oxford and a team of leading contemporary dancers and choreographers (Malgorzata Dzierzon, Estela Merlos, Patricia Okenwa, Liam Riddick and Piedad Albarracin Seiquer). ‘Open’ rehearsals will take place each afternoon on 4-5 July (15:00–17:00), as well a fully-staged performance at 19:30 on Friday 6 July (tickets required for all sessions and spaces limited so booking early advised).

CUE by Anna Appleby (Rambert Music Fellow and St Hilda’s alumna) is a quirky and comical piece that plays with the audience’s perceptions of the boundaries between dance and music. Grim’s Ditch by composer Joel Baldwin (St Hilda’s) explores melancholia, politics, artistic expression and meaning through the layering of multimedia, sound and physical motion.  Joel’s work features the talented Austrian vocalist Michaela Riener, whose recent solo engagements include works by Steve Reich, Michael Gordon (with dance company EmioGreco|PC), Louis Andriessen (La Passione, TAO) and Hanns Eisler (with the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble).  Her soloistic capabilities, as well as her experience with Ensemble Klang and numerous early music ensembles, make her the ideal candidate for this central role of Grim’s Ditch.  Joseph Currie (Wadham) investigates different kinds of time in movement, motivated by the structural difference of heartbeats and breaths, alongside ideas about gendered breath and the expressive apparatus behind screaming.  A new instrumental piece for the ensemble, written by former Oxford composer, Sophie Sparkes, will also be premiered at the main performance on Friday evening.

Anna Appleby – CUE
Joel Baldwin – Grim’s Ditch (feat. Michaela Riener – mezzo soprano)
Joseph Currie – How many eyes do we have then, being two…
Sophie Sparkes – new work

Both open rehearsals (3-5pm on 4th and 5th July) and the performance at 7:30pm on 6th July will be livestreamed.

Date(s):  Friday, 6 July 7:30pm
Venue:  Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Oxford OX4 1DY
Tickets:  £25 (+£5 per open rehearsal session); £15 students (free entry to open rehearsals) Available online here
St. Hilda’s Alumnae Ticket Offer:  There is a 20% discount offer available for the alumnae of St. Hilda’s College to mark the 125th Anniversary of St. Hilda’s College. Please email the Development Office for more information.

You can find more information about this event here

Last Thursday, on a snowy night, St Hilda’s College Oxford warmly welcomed the local dance community to learn more about Fred Astaire, arguably the greatest dancer of the twentieth century. New York Times critic Alastair Macaulay gave an entertaining, witty and enlightening talk, as he showed us a series of filmed dance excerpts, while placing Astaire’s work in its cultural and choreographic context. (more…)

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

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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