The annual Offbeat Festival is a hive of new performance in Oxford showcasing brand-new theatre, comedy, dance, family shows, spoken word and music right on the doorstep. A collaboration between Oxford Playhouse and Arts at the Old Fire Station, it incorporates live and pre-recorded performances streamed from the Old Fire Station and Burton Taylor Studio. Take a chance on something exciting; here are details of dance shows at Offbeat.

Wednesday 13th July 8.00-9.00pm: Commonality

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

Tickets: £10 – book online here

Shared experiences in a world of division, with Thomas Page Dances.  Featuring contemporary dance, a unique score, live photography and an interactive set, Commonality looks at the parts of life that everyone has in common. Through the exploration of shared experiences and feelings, this performance paints the possibilities of coming together as one community.

Friday 15th July 8.00-9.00pm: Going Global

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

Tickets: £10 – book online here

Aradhana Arts are excited to bring Going Global to the Old Fire Station as part of Offbeat Festival, bringing together an ensemble of talented musicians presenting a rich mix of music from around the globe. The ensemble is led by the critically acclaimed Tabla Master Sanju Sahai and features versatile violinist Alice Barron, talented Sitarist and Vocalist Debipriya Sircar, versatile Guitarist Giuliano Modarelli and North Indian classical Kathak dance by Jaymini Sahai. Suitable for ages 10 years+

Sunday 17th July 11.00am-12.00: Apple ‘n’ Spice

Venue: BT Studio, Gloucester Street, Oxford OX1 2BN

Tickets: £8 – book online here

Sanskruti Dance introduces children to storytelling, dance and shadow puppetry with Apple ‘N’ Spice, an original, interactive and multi-cultural performance incorporating bharatanatyam and contemporary dance. This new fairy tale tells the story of two stepmothers; one from the East and one from the West, watch the plot thicken as their stories entwine. “Children and their families watched on in awe.” – Colchester and North Essex Gazette. Suitable for ages 5 years+

“Let me begin again.” Ocean Vuong

Dam Van Huynh draws upon the words of writers, poets, activists as an awakening to his displaced experience as a child refugee from the Vietnam war. Moving from a state of disorientation into a state of consciousness, Re:birth retraces a personal experience of rediscovery. The performance unravels a recollection of visual impressions and sensations, a memory book whose pictures and stories long forgotten begin to resurface, a distortion between memories and dreams. Movement responds to a field of light, sound and voice to illude the senses.

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Dam Van Huynh was Winner of the Asian Arts Award for Best Directing 2018 for DEP:

“Throughout ĐẸP, I am on the edge of my seat.” – The Guardian

★★★★ – The Observer on DEP

“Van Huynh is in his own very stylised world, and has perfected the art of drawing an audience into it.” – CriticalDance Forum

“A powerful work with a terrible beauty all of its own.” ★★★★ Seeing Dance on DEP

Date: Wednesday 20th April, 7.30pm

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

Tickets: Standard: £13 | Pay more: £15 | Pay less: £11 Book online here

Ages: 12 years +

Content warning: Please note, this work contains nudity.

Find out more about Van Huynh Company here

Long established and highly respected Oxford dance makers Cecilia Macfarlane and Joëlle Pappas join together this spring to curate a three day festival of professional, adult community, and youth dance at the Old Fire Station under the title Life Line. The three shows, suitable for audiences of all ages, comprise:

Life Line

This evening of dance with live music is curated by Cecilia Macfarlane and Joëlle Pappas who relish the opportunity to share the passion and deep artistic values that they hold in common. Their careers as dancers, directors, teachers and mentors are rooted in the knowledge that Dance is the key to healthy living and our surviving on this planet.

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.  The world will not have it.  It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions.  It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”  ― Martha Graham

Thursday 31st March 7.30pm

Venue: Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2QA

Book online here

Curious Dancing: DugOut Adult Community Dance

DugOut Community Dance Group present Curious Dancing, an evening of dance created and performed by its members and guests with direction from Cecilia Macfarlane. All the dancers celebrate how powerfully dance can release expression, feed the soul and entertain others. We celebrate difference; the excitement is not in uniformity but unique individuality that can powerfully change lives. Find out more about Dugout here.

Friday 1st April 7.30pm

Venue: Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2QA

Book online here

Ripples, Echoes…: Tac-au-Tac Youth Dance and guests

“Look out, now! We’re ready to jump!
Because the rhythm is jumpin’, jump session
Doo wadda doodoo wadda doodoo wat doo wah” ― Slim & Slam

Tac-au-Tac Youth Dance and Joëlle Pappas present two entertaining programmes of contemporary dance.

Ripples of the past, echoes of the present, dance carries us forward…

Saturday 2nd April 4.00pm

Venue: Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2QA

Book online here

“Last Christmas, a new telescope was sent into space and is now wandering in the dark and mysterious galaxy – is this how we, as artists, feel when we go deep into our consciousness in search of what makes us feel alive?

What happens when five artistic units come together during a global pandemic and are given the time to think and reflect? Witnessing a rise in sickening racial attacks against the global majority, the endless closure of theatres and arts venues, and the widening gap between the “successful” artist and the “starving” artist, what would five live artists of different races and backgrounds do when they gather?

Bitter Moves, Sweet Truths: an evening of continuing is part of an ongoing collaboration between percussionist/multidisciplinary artist Angela Wai-Nok Hui, contemporary art duo Ghost and John, dance/maker/writer Shivaangee Agrawal, and independent dance artist Thomas Page. Together they look at what creative exchange and artist alliance means in a world where the arts are under threat, and how to project a healthier future in the post-pandemic world. This dynamic promenade piece will merge dance with soundscapes & projections, transporting you to a place of calm that strives to build connections through art.

The evening will be a chance to observe, question, challenge, share, reflect, dream, and exchange. So artists, art makers, art lovers, join us at the Old Fire Station Theatre in Oxford as we unpack this mess in the tidiest ways we can!

Date: Thursday 24th February 7.00pm

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

Tickets: Standard: £13 | Pay more: £15 | Pay less: £11 Book online here

Duration: 2.5 hours

Ages: 14+

Spindrift is a special early evening event in the cafe of the Old Fire Station combining free improvisation by musicians of Oxford Improvisers and dance with special guest Helen Edwards.

Helen Edwards is an Oxford based dancer, artist and arts psychotherapist. She has studied Butoh and Amerta Movement in Indonesia, Japan, Europe and the UK. Helen will perform a solo piece of her own devising (Finding Stone) and also dance in duo with fellow Oxford-based dancer Lizzy Spight.

The evening will present a new piece for improvising musicians and dancers devised by Lawrence Casserley, a larger group piece by Paul Medley, and a piece by Bruno Guastalla using maqam techniques, for loutar and sinewaves.

Programme:

Siròc for loutar with sine waves performed by Bruno Guastalla

Finding Stone solo dance by Helen Edwards with musical accompaniment by Martin Hackett, Philipp Wachsmann, Paul Medley

HIPPO devised by Lawrence Casserley. Dancers: Helen Edwards and Lizzy Spight. Musicians: Lisa Reim, Chris Stubbs, Pete Watson. The five greatest threats to biodiversity can be summarized by the “HIPPO” acronym: (1) Habitat loss, (2) Invasives, (3) Pollution, (4) Population, and (5) Overexploitation. The score consists of five graphic images, which are drawn from some of the most endangered environments on earth: grasslands, oceans, broadleaf forest, arctic regions, Aral Sea.

Spindrift devised by Paul Medley for solo players and small groups

Squall, a text piece devised by Mark Browne for improvisers, that considers some of the many and diverse aspects of large bodies of water.

Performers:

Dancers: Helen Edwards, Lizzy Spight
Musicians: Andrew West, Chris Stubbs, Bruno Guastalla, Lisa Reim, Martin Hackett, Lawrence Casserley, Chris Dammers, Mark Browne, Pete Watson, Philipp Wachsmann, Dan Goren, Lizzy Spight, Paul Medley.

Date: Tuesday 22nd February 6.30pm

Venue: Old Fire Station Cafe, 40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2AQ

Tickets: on the door.

Find out more about Helen Edwards here

Find out more about Oxford Improvisers here

Find out about Lizzy Spight here

Wednesday 9th February saw the first Dance Scratch Night at the Old Fire Station since the start of the pandemic.   Three local makers, Pragna Das, Susie Crow and Helen Edwards shared new work with an audience, and invited feedback and suggestions during discussions moderated by Jenny Parrott on behalf of Oxford Dance Forum (ODF).  Although they work in different dance and movement genres, all three artists draw on a vast corpus of knowledge and understanding: for Pragna Das and Susie Crow, the heritage of Kathak and ballet; for Helen Edwards, Asian movement traditions including Butoh, and the ancient materiality of the natural world.

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Oxford Dance Forum are delighted finally to be back at Arts at the Old Fire Station to share an evening of new dance works in progress by ODF members, and invite feedback, comments and discussion with the audience.

Pragna Das – Bhoboghure

Moving ahead- sometimes it happens that we get stuck in a situation or a thing. This piece describes that feeling and the urge to move ahead, and how that process happens. The dilemma of being comfortable with people around, and when you are forced to move ahead without them as they were gone in the delinquent.

Susie Crow – Technical studies project

Over the course of the pandemic and under the limitations of lockdown I have been creating miniature dances arising from balletic technical challenges, that could be practised and performed at home. Western classical musicians have long written and published technical studies, making them available to all who wish to try playing them. I hope to make my dance studies similarly publicly available online, and am investigating appropriate formats and platforms for doing this.

Dancers: Ségolène Tarte, Evie Tucker and Thomas Page

Helen Edwards – Finding Stone

We are of the earth
Exploring a dialogue with stones found by the sea
Carrying these stones with me
My body feeling their weight, density, atmosphere and stories,
I am slowed by them,
Anchored in presence
The dance emerges from the body in the liminal spaces between the memories of stone and water
A residue of this ancient knowledge
The strata of life and layers of time

Date: Wednesday 9th February 7.30pm

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

Tickets: £5 on the door or book online here

Oxford Dance Forum would like to thank Arts at the Old Fire Station and all their team for supporting this event.

Find out more about Oxford Dance Forum via the website here and on Facebook 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

Lewys Holt is billed as an “interdisciplinary dance artist”.  His double bill of two extended performance pieces cannot really be described as primarily dance solos – involving, as they do, not only Holt’s particular movement, collapsing and reconstituting itself in wayward unexpected ways, but also articulate verbal narrative and interjections of projected images, sound and music.  A studio setting provides a small performing space demarcated by a black curtain with simple white chair and table; but shifting camera work allow viewers to glimpse behind and around it the clutter of a working space and its prosaic furnishings, with radiators, coarse chipboard, and miscellaneous equipment pushed aside – in contrast to the unrealistic abstracted framing of theatre’s conventional black box.  A masked collaborative technical team visible filming from different angles or following Holt within the performing space are occasionally drawn into his rambling monologue to answer questions and offer comments or suggestions.  

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