reviews


As a long-time fan of the ballet Swan Lake, I eagerly anticipated sharing it with my children (aged five and nine), at the English National Ballet’s My First Ballet series.  These shortened versions of traditional ballets aim to introduce young audiences (3 years plus) to classical ballet in a fun and accessible way. For us, it mostly succeeded.

The audience at the 5pm performance was – not unexpectedly – 95% mums and little girls, so my five-year-old son’s game of spotting dads and boys was rather short-lived! There was an audible buzz of excitement throughout the auditorium, which the young ones minimised as the lights dimmed and their necks craned forward in anticipation. “Hello!” The greeting came from our jolly and personable narrator for the afternoon, who stood centre stage in modern dress and gym boots.  In wide-eyed wonder and an animated voice, she led us through a story of friendship and loyalty, love and forgiveness.  Without being intrusive or obstructing the dancing, she helped transfix the young audience to the stage action.  Top marks! (more…)

Advertisements

“Spring is coming…” I wrote in posting an advance round-up of performance and other events for this year’s edition of Dancin’ Oxford Festival 1st – 11th March 2018. It would perhaps have been more appropriate to post “Winter is coming…” as the arrival of the “Beast from the East” took some casualties in the first weekend of programming. Heavy snowfall and consequent travel disruption led to the postponement to a later date (to be announced) of the one day Dance and Academia conference, with several guest speakers unable to get there. That same day (Saturday 3rd March) Company Chameleon’s performance at Pegasus Theatre was also cancelled.

Other companies who had arrived in Oxford a day or two earlier before the snow were able to continue with scheduled performances in true “the show must go on” style, and with encouragingly healthy audiences. At the end of Theatre Ad Infinitum’s Friday evening performance of Odyssey at The North Wall, performer George Mann gave a heartfelt thanks to those that had made it. I found this lively retelling of Homer’s great story of journey and homecoming well worth crunching through silent snowy streets for. (more…)

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 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…)

Next Page »