Another fascinating opportunity for discussion springing from the Backstage At The Ballet exhibition at The North Wall.  Researchers Dr Bronwyn Tarr and Joshua Bamford will bring Colin Jones’ photographs to life with an engaging discussion on their creative research into the psychological and physiological effects of dance and movement. Bridging the gap between science and dance – and photograph and the viewer – the conversation will invite the audience to explore how science can help uncover the power of moving with others.

Bronwyn and Joshua are based in The Social Body Lab at the Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford, and both have experience as performers, as well as scientists. They are interested in uncovering the nuts and bolts behind the benefits of being part of a dancing community.

Joshua’s doctoral work aims to understand the social and cognitive processes involved in synchronised movement, through a range of audio-visual perception experiments.

Bronwyn (a TORCH Knowledge Exchange Fellow) is currently exploring how dance-movement therapy might help alleviate loneliness, and is collaborating with local artists to choreograph a performative piece on the embodied experience of feeling alone, and feeling connected.

Date:  Wednesday 4th March, 6.00pm

Venue:  The North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7JN

Tickets:  Tickets for this event are free, but spaces are limited. Please email Nicky Laird, Gallery Manager, on lairdn@thenorthwall.com to book.

Further details on Backstage At The Ballet can be found here

The North Wall offers a perfect introduction to its exhibition Backstage at the Ballet with an expert guide.  Jane Pritchard‘s illustrated presentation will place Colin Jones’ photographs in the context of the work of his contemporaries. It will contrast the candidly captured life of a dancer on stage and off with the more formally composed photograph encapsulating the art of dance.

Jane Pritchard is curator of dance at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, where she curated the exhibition Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes and displays of the work of photographers Chris Nash and Anthony Crickmay. She also writes, lectures and broadcasts on many aspects of dance.

Date:  Tuesday 11th February, 5.30pm

Venue: The North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7JN

Tickets:  Tickets for this event are free, but spaces are limited. Please email Nicky Laird, Gallery Manager, on lairdn@thenorthwall.com to book.

Further details on Backstage At The Ballet can be found here

As part of Dancin’ Oxford 2020 The North Wall displays a collection of remarkable photos, Backstage At The Ballet.  Colin Jones (b.1936) is one of Britain’s most significant photojournalists but he began his creative career dancing with The Royal Ballet.  This dancer-turned-photographer focused his lens on fellow dancers as his subject matter, capturing hardworking bodies and backstage drama.

Jones’ backstage ballet photographs show not just the emotional intensity and beauty of ballet but also reveal the sustained physical exertion and discipline of a dancer’s life.  Photographs from the 1960s include Britain’s iconic ballerina, Margot Fonteyn and the Soviet-born Rudolf Nureyev as well as later images from the 1990s, featuring English National Ballet star Tamara Rojo.

This is the first exhibition in a public gallery of Jones’ ballet photographs, featuring rarely-seen backstage images of British ballet from the late 1950s to the millennium.

With grateful thanks to Colin Jones, Topfoto and principal sponsor St Edward’s School.

Dates:  Tuesday 11th February – Saturday 7th March

Venue:  The North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7JN

Tickets:  Admission free.

Opening hours:  The North Wall Gallery is open from Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm, and from 12pm – 4pm on Saturdays. Sundays & Bank Holidays: normally closed, except for theatre events.

Related talks:

Photographing Dance and Dancers, Tuesday 11th February, 5.30pm: further details here

The Collaborative Research of Science and Dance, Wednesday 4th March, 6.00pm: further details here

Find out more about Colin Jones here

The DANSOX event Making “The Cellist” was an exciting opportunity to watch choreographer Cathy Marston’s creative process as she rehearsed her ballet based on the life of Jacqueline du Pré.  Du Pré, who died of multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of forty-two in 1987, was an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda’s, and the evening began, fittingly, with a performance of Fauré’s Elegy in C Minor by St Hilda’s musicians Holly Jackson and David Palmer.  An open rehearsal, with Royal Ballet dancers Beatriz Stix-Brunell and Calvin Richardson, and discussion of Marston’s work followed.

Interviewed by her scenarist Edward Kemp, Marston eloquently described how her sister, a drama teacher, had used an old cello to stimulate improvisation, and realised that the idea held great potential for a ballet.  Marston is acutely aware of the sensitivity of her subject matter (her mother has MS), and rather than trying to reproduce the symptoms, she seeks to express what it feels like to have the disease.  She approached du Pré’s widower Daniel Barenboim at an early stage to gain his blessing, but the ballet is not an exploration of family relationships; it is about the gift and burden of talent. (more…)

Oxford’s long established butoh dance theatre group Café Reason first showed its  ecologically focused work Tipping Point at the University of Hertfordshire last year, the outcome of this collaborative company’s collective exploration and creative response to “the threats facing our fragile planet”. In January 2020 the company unveiled it in Oxford over two sold out nights, testimony to a solid and sympathetic audience support base, but also to the topical urgency of its theme, increasingly in the public eye as we followed the horrific development of Australia’s bush fires. Corpus Christi College’s Al Jaber auditorium proved an apt setting, its reuse of ancient wall providing a dramatic irregular boundary and contrast to an otherwise technologically functional modern space. (more…)

Why host an event which presents dance work focusing on various human rights issues in 2020?  This is a volatile time for many of us in the world, although the concept and ethos of human rights enables us to reflect upon the fact that at any given time human beings are fleeing persecution and seeking to affirm their human rights.  And so, in our turbulent times it is urgent to ask—what is our commitment as artists and human beings to the idea and practice of human rights?

My own introduction to human rights came a long time before I knew what that concept entails.  My political education was on the pro-Palestinian Israeli left, and so I’ve come to learn of human rights from the wrong side of history.  Even when my every day was shielded by walls and checkpoints from events of huge historical consequence occurring sometimes less than a few miles away, I knew well these events are part of my own life. And I realized early on that no one is free until everyone is free, and our human fate is entangled in others and so we have responsibilities towards them. (more…)

What can contemporary dance tell us about human rights? What can hip hop say about equality and human dignity? Join an evening of dance and discussion to find out.  Curated by scholar of dance and political philosophy Dr Dana Mills, this programme at the Old Fire Station is part of Oxford Brookes University’s forthcoming festival Think Human – what does it mean to be human in 2020?.

Dancing Human Rights offers an exciting opportunity to watch live dance that explores the theme of human rights, with powerful performances from respected dance artists Blakely White-McGuire, Eliot Smith and Oxford based emerging group Body Politic Dance; and to celebrate art’s power to challenge the social and political turmoil we face around the world today.

Performance:  Saturday 1st February, 6.00pm

Venue:  Arts at The Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2AQ

Tickets:  The event now is sold out but if you would like to attend, or for more details, please contact Dana on d.mills@brookes.ac.uk

For more information about this programme read the curator’s blog here