What's happening


DANSOX (Dance Scholarship Oxford) and TORCH (The Oxford Centre for Research in the Humanities) join forces to present Yorke Dance Project in a moving tribute to Sir Robert Cohan, as an extension to The Grace Project, continuing the discussion “Dance as Grace: Paradoxes and Possibilities”. Director Yolande Yorke-Edgell will present Cohan’s ideas on grace. On 28th October dancers from the Company will show excerpts from Cohan’s works Canciones del alma and Communion, followed by discussion. On 29th October Yolande Yorke-Edgell will dance, and there will be a special screening of Cohan’s lockdown project – Lockdown Portraits – the last series of solos he created – followed by a discussion with the director of the film.

Dates: Thursday 28th October 4.00-6.00pm, Friday 29th October 4.00-6.00pm

Venue: Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Oxford OX4 1DY

Tickets: Admission free, but numbers limited for social distancing: book to reserve a seat by emailing susan.jones@ell.ox.ac.uk
and copying in marcus.bell@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk

The latest work from ‘genre-defying’ choreographer Alexander Whitley harnesses motion capture technology to explore the biological form of the human body. This spectacular new stage production asks, are organisms just algorithms? Is life just data processing? Whitley’s experimental new work Anti-Body uses motion capture technology in a unique and visually thrilling dance experience that sees dancers perform together live and in virtual space.

Renowned for creating ambitious, interdisciplinary, and thought-provoking work with innovation and digital technology at its core, Anti-Body is Whitley’s first new work for the stage since the Covid-19 pandemic and will preview at DanceEast on Friday 8th October 2021 and Oxford Playhouse, in partnership with Oxford Science and Ideas Festival (IF Oxford), on Tuesday 26th October 2021.

(more…)

During July a week-long summer residency sponsored by TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) and supported by DANSOX and APGRD (Archive of Performance of Greek and Roman Drama) took place in the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. Curated by Marina Warner the residency brought together international choreographer Kim Brandstrup and two renowned dancers, Laurel Dalley Smith and Liam Riddick to develop a new dance-piece Cupid and Psyche with commissioned score by Edmund Finnis as part of the Dancing with Apollo project, originally devised by violinist Sara Trickey.

Read Professor Sue Jones‘ account of the project here

And view a short film of the residency made by Rocio Chacon now available to view on YouTube here

DANSOX Summer Programme 2021 continues…

DANSOX invites you to a sharing of new choreography Sum Dance – A Collaborative Response by renowned Rambert dancers, Liam Francis and Simone Damberg Würtz.

Date: Sunday 22nd August 2pm.

Venue: Jacqueline du Pre Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Cowley Pl, Oxford OX4 1DY

No charge, but limited seating, so please rsvp susan.jones@ell.ox.ac.uk and
cc marcus.bell@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk to confirm a place.

You are welcome to drop in to watch the making of the work any day/time between 17th and 22nd August but please email us first (Covid rules).

DANSOX looks forward to welcoming you during the week or for an after-lunch Sunday treat.

Find out more about DANSOX here

Watch previous DANSOX events on the DANSOX YouTube channel here

Oxford-based Thomas Page Dances‘ thought provoking and beautifully mesmerising contemporary dance show A Moment is available online via Arts at the Old Fire Station, Oxford until 4th July, as part of a national mix-mode tour.

Responding to Bren Gosling’s play Moment of Grace, two contemporary dancers (Llewelyn Lewis and Thomas Page) explore what it was to be Queer in the 80s and Princess Diana’s opening of Britain’s first AIDS unit.

“I used to be interested in clothes, clubs, buying records. And men. Now my life…what life? – Quote from Moment of Grace, Bren Gosling.

After being featured in Offbeat Festival’s Supported Artists Programme, Thomas Page Dances, are presenting this intimate duet, with the hope to spark a new wave of conversations around HIV/AIDS helping to raise awareness whilst creating a physical archive of such a vital part of our history. The performance moves through gestural phrases and intricate partnering to create different episodes and relationships creating a highly visceral experience for the audience. Set to a delicate, yet powerful score by composer Robert Singer.

Premièred in London with a sold-out run at the Bloomsbury Festival in a double bill with Gosling’s play, the show uses Page’s signatory blend of detailed hand gestures and contortion fused with Contemporary dance, and has already sparked a growing following in with just two runs of performances in London and Oxford.

If you’re a fan of contemporary dance, come for a gorgeous piece by a fantastic emerging company. If you’ve never come to a dance performance before, come for a heartbreaking duet: the perfect first dance show.” – The Old Fire Station’s programming team

★★★★ “In a different league” – The Sunday Express on Thomas Page Dances

“An incredible piece giving a platform to allow for conversation. Truly mesmerising and awakening.” Audience member, 2019

“The National HIV Story Trust is recording and preserving stories told by people who have been touched by HIV/AIDS Since the 1980s. We seek also to re-imagine those experiences through the arts and are proud to associate with the dynamic Thomas Page Dance Company.” – Paul Coleman, National HIV Story Trust

Available online to watch until end of Sunday 4th July

Duration: 40 minutes

Tickets: Standard £10, Pay more £15, Pay less £5

Book for the show and buy tickets here

Find out more about Thomas Page Dances here

Oxford’s annual theatre festival Offbeat hosted by Oxford Playhouse and Arts at the Old Fire Station is back after a year’s absence. The brand-new, socially distanced festival brings the best of thought-provoking, entertaining theatre to in-person, online and outdoor audiences from 22nd to 27th June. Here are details of some dance and physical theatre events to watch online from 10.00am Tuesday June 22nd to 9.00pm Sunday June 27th, and a live streamed performance by Drishti Dance on Saturday 26th June at The Old Fire Station.

Kattam Katti transports you to Uttarayan, the world-famous festival in North India where millions of people fly kites together to mark the transition from winter into spring. Tapping into the competitive chaos, creativity and colour of the event, this film brings life to kite flying with lyricism, drama and exquisite technique. Kattam Katti is created and Choreographed by Artistic Director, acclaimed dance artist, Urja Desai Thakore in collaboration with Award-winning Screendance production company, The Motion Dance Collective. Featuring a new generation of Asian British dancers and musicians.

By Pagrav Dance Company

Duration 19 minutes: watch online, on-demand for free: please book online here

Ina Ama is a dance project with the goal of showcasing and facilitating a space for Filipino artists. Jason Mabana writes: As a choreographer with a Filipino heritage, I felt it was necessary to provide a safe space where the dancers, the collaborators and I could exchange and share a few aspects from our culture.

The project started from one of the many articles which mentioned that 20% of the NHS Staff that died during Covid 19 were Filipino. We were all astonished by this shocking number and wanted to help in our own way. The piece is looking at a few subjects such as mental health which is not talked about widely in our culture but also have an approach which is more educating people to some facets of our culture such as Tinikling, The Bayanihan Spirit, family bonding…

We have worked with different collaborators such as The British Filipino Choir (HARAYA) who are a group of singers as well as nurses, Mikayla Teodoro who is a Filipino Set Designer specialized in Puppetry, Troy Cabida, a poet from London who shared his texts for our creation.

By Jason Mabana

Duration 30 minutes: watch online, on-demand, price £5, please book online here

Unfurl – A gallery of dance films without a choreographer. Three dancers from around the globe were invited to film themselves improvising on themes of connection, joy and kindness. Director Joe Lott edited their improvisations to create a portrait of each dancer. Join Bonnie Simons, Tingting Yang, and Karni Ishai, as they gently release their limbs, unwinding like ferns in the breeze. Moments of movement are playfully layered, interwoven and dissolved.

Joe Lott is a Brighton-based choreographer, film-maker and arts and education marketing professional. Follow Joe Lott on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joe_lott_ @Joe_Lott_
Explore Joe’s work: www.joelottdance.co.uk

Tingting Yang is a dance artist and language teacher based in Oxford.

Bonnie Simons is currently completing her Masters in Performance at Chichester University.
Follow Bonnie on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bonniesimonsdance_/ @BonnieSimonsDance_

Karni Ishai is a movement therapist and Jungian analyst.

Watch these films here

Through Our Eyes is a powerful, thought-provoking dance film by Shaquille Brathwaite-Blaggrove, inspired by Black Lives Matter protests. There are many people who still believe racism does not exist. There are many people who believe that systemic oppression does not exist. There are many people who think white privilege does not exist. We invite you to come and see what life is like for us. We want you to see things through our eyes.

Watch the film for free here

Color Me Rainbow

I colour myself a rainbow…
A full spectrum of the shades of yore…
I am embraced in their true brilliance-
From this day to the days of long before! ..

Theo Onken

A collection of short Kathak works from Drishti Dance, each exploring the nature of intricate bond that connects colours with human consciousness and nature. Colours are the outer manifestation of the elemental moods of inner world, joy, sorrow, grief, desire and above all love, and the collage of works is a joyful celebration of these complex emotional connections and their interplay through a combination of movement music and poetry.

Suitable for ages 6 plus. At the Old Fire Station Theatre – and livestreamed. Tickets £10, book online here

Another fascinating online dance event coming up from DANSOX: International choreographer, Kim Brandstrup, currently one of two Director’s Fellows at New York University’s Center for Ballet and the Arts (CBA) for 2019/20, will give the lecture, Hearing Footsteps – the ear and the audible in dance and choreographic practice, with practical demonstration from dancers, Estela Merlos and Thomasin Gulgec.

This event will be added to the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building’s YouTube channel from Wednesday 9th December. Watch this and more on the DANSOX playlist.

Celebrate the new book from distinguished dance scholar Mark Franko with this online book launch hosted by DANSOX and hear Professor Franko discussing his work. Many DANSOX supporters have enjoyed his ongoing research for this book on previous occasions; you can read Susanna Reece’s account of his 2015 stimulating lecture The Fascist Legs of Serge Lifar about his emerging research here. The Fascist Turn in the Dance of Serge Lifar: Interwar French Ballet and the German Occupation is the latest publication in the prestigious series Oxford Studies in Dance Theory.

You will be able to find this event online on the DANSOX Playlist of the JduP YouTube Channel here from Tuesday 24th November.

You can purchase a copy of Professor Franko’s book online from Oxford University Press Academic here.

An exciting project initiated by Alice Oswald (Professor of Poetry University of Oxford), with dancers Estela Merlos and Thomasin Gulgec, and composer Joseph Kay, in collaboration with Rocio Chacon (film-maker) and Kevin Mount (designer). TORCH is collaborating with the Oxford University English Faculty, Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama (APGRD) and DANSOX (Dance Scholarship Oxford) as part of the Professor of Poetry Lecture Series, to invite participants to be part of a Poetry Performance, taking place at midnight on Monday 30th November. This event is led by Alice Oswald, current Professor of Poetry as part of the Humanities Cultural Programme. 

This event is an immersive experience, with limited availability now sold out. 500 signed up participants will be mailed a special copy of a poem written by Alice Oswald. At the stroke of midnight, participants are invited to open their poem and step outside to read it. If you signed up to receive one of the limited mailed copies of the poem written by Alice Oswald, you should receive this by 30th November. Full details will be found on your mailed poem.

If you were unable to sign up for the mailed copy, you can still enjoy a slightly different experience of the evening. Two copies of the poem will also be sent to two dancers who will be filmed opening and reading the poem, so there will be an online performance via YouTube happening at the same time. The performance will be released via the TORCH Oxford YouTube channel at midnight. Watch the performance here.  

Date: Monday 30th November 11.59pm​

The Bournemouth three year Residency of the Cohan Collective began in 2018 with a two-week Intensive, followed by a Development Week in 2019, and finally a three-week creative period in summer 2020.  In a normal year the final phase would have culminated in a live showing before a selected audience, but this year, because of the pandemic, the artists shared their work in a Zoom meeting.

We saw two works; one created for film and therefore complete, the other for the stage and so by force of circumstance not yet in its final form.  The sharing event was well planned, with opportunities for questions and discussion.  After an introduction by the  event moderator, Yolande Yorke-Edgell, Founder Director of the Cohan Collective alongside Sir Robert Cohan and composer pianist Eleanor Alberga, explained the purpose of the project: to enable artists to become their best creative selves through exploration and collaboration, with the support of mentors, and with the time and space to be both vulnerable and adventurous.  The moderator then posted the link to a film of the first work in the chat, so that we could all watch it simultaneously, before returning to the Zoom call for discussion.

We saw the first work, choreographer Edd Mitton’s The Quickening, without costumes, sets or lighting, filmed at the final point of preparation in the studio, before that vital shift when it should have transferred to the stage.  Three female dancers (Freya Jeffs, Sharia Johnson, and Abigail Attard Montalto), in black practice clothes, their heads initially swathed in white scarves that covered their faces, seemed to swim slowly in the air, drifting in space to Edmund Hunt’s composition for violin, double bass and piano.  The slow floating movements, to music that sounded like breaths of air punctuated by notes from a five-tone scale, evoked an atmosphere of the supernatural.  A man (Jordi Calpe Serrats) sits and seems to sense invisible presences, but not to see them.  He reaches out to hold them as they move around him marking the limits of his space as if they live within the four walls of his room.  He lies down, perhaps sleeping, and they carefully circle him anti-clockwise, extending their hands and hovering over him as if to draw him upwards with invisible threads.  They might be waking him, or they might be stealing his soul; they are like three witches, or spirits, or something that falls between reality and imagination.  They never quite touch him, until one clamps her outspread hand to his chest with the impact of an electric shock, and at last she dances with him.  In the end, they cradle him, and then let him slide to the ground and roll away, before each retreats to her own corner, leaving him downstage right, carefully moving his hand across the surface of the floor as if he can sense traces of ghostly footprints.

The second work, What Remains, by choreographer Dane Hurst and filmmaker Pierre Tappon to music by Ryan Latimer, made use of different locations and special effects, but the focus was nevertheless on the dance itself.  Romany Pajdak, dressed in white and looking utterly defenceless stands in a narrow alley way hemmed in by the high brick walls on either side.  We see clips of her running (towards someone, or away from them?) and Hurst, her partner, fades in and out of the picture as if he is walking in and out of her mind.  They dance a duet that contests the narrow space as if they are trapped in a dysfunctional relationship. Then Hurst dances a solo in the dark, filmed partially from above, before we see Pajdak again, in a derelict attic, where she discovers Hurst lying on the floor.  They circle each other warily, like cats, and when they dance together they are often not face-to-face, but one behind the other.  In the final scene, Pajdak, her back against a wall, tips and swings in two dimensions like a pendulum, until she subsides to the ground.

In the first Question and Answer session someone asked whether The Quickening was about Coronovirus.  Although neither work was specifically about the pandemic, both dances seemed influenced by related themes:  loneliness, isolation, vulnerability, and an ever-present invisible threat.  The absence of physical touch in parts of The Quickening and of eye contact in parts of What Remains echoed the lack of connection that so many people have recently suffered.

In discussion we heard about the ways in which the choreographers, composers, musicians, dancers, and their mentors, often working remotely from one another, had successfully addressed this year’s particular challenges.  Sir Robert Cohan spoke at the end, emphasising the difference between being an artist for oneself (which is easy) and being an artist for your community, creating work and experiences for an audience that they can understand:  the true artist finds new ways to see life and emotion, and our society needs artists, if we are to grow as human beings.  Through this residency, the Cohan Collective, together with partners  Yorke Dance Project, Pavilion Dance South West and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and other supporters, has provided the professional guidance that prepares composers, choreographers, musicians, dancers and filmmakers to fulfil this essential role: it is good news that this year’s Birmingham Residency, although, perforce, postponed, is scheduled for 2–14 August 2021.

Maggie Watson

18th October 2020

You can find out more about the Cohan Collective here

Next Page »