the burning question…


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…)

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Followers of Oxford Dance Writers who enjoyed Jane Connelly’s description of One Billion Rising  or Emily Coats’ account of her Swan Lake dance protest  will be fascinated by this book.

In Embodied politics: dance, protest and identities Stacey Prickett approaches her vast subject by means of four discrete but interlinked essays, in which she considers dance activism firstly in the US and then in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s, before turning to look at developments in the San Francisco Bay area around the turn of the 21st century and finally the South Asian dance movement in Britain. There is a logical chronological sequence to the work, but each of the four chapters has its own intrinsic structure and could be read independently.  Prickett uses the introduction and conclusion to draw together the threads that run through the work (more…)

This Friday 14th February is not just Valentine’s Day it is also One Billion Rising day!  The global call for women – and men – to dance to demand an end to violence against women and girls.  Following the success of last year’s event in Oxford, Dana Mills is organising this year’s Flashmob in Gloucester Green, see below for her call out with information about how you can join in this wonderfully positive event and lend your support to this major campaign.  (more…)

On Sunday 5th May I joined a long queue outside Oxford’s New Theatre; lots of little girls, many in pastel princess dresses and net petticoats, with their mothers.  Inside the auditorium much excitement finding seats, fidgeting to get comfy, sweets and fruit drinks, plastic tiara and fluffy glow wand merchandise.  For this was one of a weekend clutch of performances of My First Cinderella, English National Ballet’s latest initiative to catch a new young and family audience.

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To the Female Choreographers’ Collective programme “The Experiment” at the Laban Theatre last Tuesday 23rd April.  FCC’s Holly Noble and Jane Coulston convened a programme of six works, three by male choreographers and three by female, to be anonymously performed, to test the hypothesis that choreographic work is influenced by gender, and to discover if there might be any bias in the audience towards male and female authored works.  The audience filled in anonymous questionnaires about their dance viewing habits and impressions of the works being presented.

The curious can now find out the identities of the featured artists which have been revealed on the FCC website:
http://www.the-fcc.org.uk/the-experiment.html

A substantial labour of data analysis now lies ahead for the FCC to discover what their lively audience made of the evening; however some forthright comments have already been posted about it on online dance magazine Bellyflop:

http://www.bellyflopmag.com/reviews/female-choreographers-collective-experiment

Meanwhile the debate about sexism in dance and the invisibility of work by female choreographers has now reached beyond the confines of the dance world thanks to a powerful article by Observer dance critic Luke Jennings:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2013/apr/28/women-choreographers-glass-ceiling

Scroll down after reading to a succession of thoughtful and passionate postings in response… Add you own or post a comment about this here on Oxford Dance Writers…

Last November, Josephine Jewkes’ description of the Boys in Action project in the Dancing Times made interesting reading beside Luke Jennings’ comments in the Observer on the “all-male creative stranglehold” on the Royal Ballet, and his statement:  “It’s a dismaying fact, but no female choreographer has been commissioned to create a ballet on the Covent Garden main stage for more than a decade now.”

When boys are so reluctant to take up dance, particularly ballet, and girls outnumber boys in most ballet classes, why are men so much more successful in gaining recognition as ballet choreographers? (more…)

This appeared originally online as part of a series of ongoing reflections on the process of making and performing work for Jennifer Jackson’s mature dancers’ project Dancing the Invisible, which showed work in performance last year at University of Surrey’s Ivy Arts Centre, and at the Michaelis Theatre at Roehampton University.  In a recent blog post Susie wrote:

Ashton used to say that watching The Sleeping Beauty was like having a private lesson in the art of composition in classical ballet (Kavanagh 1996, p.309).  The richness of Petipa’s choreographic text (despite its mutability and variation from one production to another) and the particular poetic and historic symbolism of the work, give it layers of significance and the potential for depth in individual artistic interpretation; to my mind according it the equivalence in status of such canonical musical masterpieces as the Bach cello suites, which invite artists to measure themselves and make a definitive personal statement of their understanding through their performance of the work. (more…)

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