On Sunday, Oxford Dance Forum celebrated Evolution, its three-year professional development programme for dance artists, funded by Arts Council England and Oxford City Council. Events were free to attend, but had sold out quickly and I was lucky to catch performances by Jenny Parrott, Naomi Morris, and Joëlle Pappas with musician Christopher Redgate, before a discussion led by dance dramaturg Miranda Laurence.

Jenny Parrott’s part-planned, part-improvised performance of With or without (tea and cake) in the OFS Café created an intimate and friendly atmosphere as she led us through a daydream laced with absurdity and gentle humour, built around ordinary domestic objects (a cup of tea; a ball of wool; a hat …). Initially her props were hidden beneath a cloth but she was visible, then in a neat reversal she removed the cloth so that we could see the objects, before covering her face. It was an enjoyable opening to this part of the afternoon programme. (more…)

In an exciting day at the Old Fire Station sharing the recent work of Oxford dance makers, Oxford Dance Forum (ODF) celebrates its Evolution Programme, acknowledging the end of this productive three year Arts Council England/Oxford City Council funded initiative, and marking the beginning of a new entirely independent phase for Oxford Dance Forum.

In December 2019 Claire Thompson, who has overseen ODF since 2006 as part of her role as Dance Officer for Oxford City Council, will be taking a step back to enable the Forum to become fully artist-led. Claire has been pivotal in fundraising for initiatives that support local dance artists as well as building partnerships both within Oxfordshire and other regions, and ODF members are extremely grateful for her work over the past 13 years, as well as for the contributions of many local dance artists who since 2006 have voluntarily given their time as members of the ODF Steering Group.

ODF’s aim is to support Oxfordshire dance artists in their ongoing research and development as makers, teachers, and performers, so please encourage those you know to come along to this event to celebrate its work to date, or consider donating to the ODF collective to help it to continue supporting Oxford’s vibrant and dynamic dance community.

Screenings of dance films, documentaries and performances will run through the afternoon in the dance studio and foyer alongside performances and sharings of Oxford dance artists’ work, see full programme below.

Date:  Sunday 13th October 1.30-9.00pm

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

Tickets:  All tickets are free, but booking is essential.  You can book online for individual events here, or call the Box Office on 01865 263990

as follows:

Mae
1.30pm & 4pm (15 mins) Dance Studio
An informal and intimate opportunity to listen to a specially created podcast by Mae based upon her explorations into creating sound, particularly the use of contact mics, as part of her Evolution funding. Mae will be present to share her feelings on dance experimentation whilst also showing film clips and objects used within the research.

Jenny Parrott, Joëlle Pappas and Christopher Redgate, and Naomi Morris
1.50pm & 4.20pm (1 hour approx) Cafe and Loft
An intriguing and entertaining promenade event of dance, live music, projections, and dialogue that takes place in the Cafe and Loft. Ages 18+ (contains nudity).

Miranda Laurence
3.05pm (45 minutes) Dance Studio
Join Miranda Laurence for a discussion exploring how to watch dance and get more out of it. This talk is open to all – dance makers, regular dance watchers, and those who may have little or no experience of watching dance.

Body Politic, Justice in Motion, Segolene Tarte, Sole Rebel Tap, and Unlock the Chains Collective & Kuumba Nia Arts
6pm (1.5 hours approx) Theatre
A rare opportunity to experience an eclectic mix of works created by 5 Oxford based dance artists and companies, presenting short excerpts in styles ranging from hip hop to butoh, tap to physical theatre, and ballet to performance poetry.

Oxford’s next Dance Scratch Night presented by Oxford Dance Forum (ODF) will take place at the Old Fire Station on Tuesday 24th September.  Another exciting opportunity to support the emerging work of local and regional dance makers.  Artists showing their work for this edition will be Gemma Peramiquel, Jenny Parrott and guest artist Attila Andrasi; and there will also be a chance to view a film (work in progress) by Naomi Morris & Phil Oakley.

Performance:  Tuesday 24th Sptember, 7.30pm

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

Tickets:  £5, available online here, or call the OFS Box Office on 01865 263990

 

Aporia, presented by Thomas Page Dances at the Old Fire Station last night, is a work of gruelling physicality. It is also didactic and earnest, and felt at times like a lecture illustrated by movement. Billed as an investigation that explores social unrest and the relationship between peace and conflict, the work’s movement vocabulary is vigorous to the point of violence: the dancers throw themselves at the floor landing hard on their hands and feet, contort their backs twisting into backbends with rolling ankles, or confront each other like martial arts practitioners (Page had early training in kick-boxing). Page is not limited by adherence to a specific dance system, and seems to have devised his own training method: company class includes a programme, referred to with some dread by the dancers, as ‘The Ten’, in addition to improvisation and work based on whichever piece is in performance. (more…)

After the success of A Moment at this year’s Offbeat Festival, company Thomas Page Dances led by Oxford-born choreographer Thomas Page is returning to the Old Fire Station with their latest contemporary dance ensemble work Aporia. The company has a choreographic practice rooted in socio-political ideas in movement; following performance at the Resolution Festival, they were deemed “in a different league” with a 4-star review and complimented on their “natural affinity for deeply felt movement” for the ensemble work Aporia.  Charged by a unique electronic score from composer Max Winter, five performers challenge the themes of life’s perpetual aporia within human nature. This highly physical work brings together expressive movements with compelling reflections of spoken-word, under a chic geometric lighting design by Joel Levine, to explore the paradoxical relationship of peace and conflict.  Featuring poignant solos and a series of powerful duets, enhanced by the equally physical costumes by designer Rosie Whiting, this work journeys through key events of the human experience; love, confrontation, and death.

Following the performance, the company would like to invite the audience to stay for an informal ‘Question and Answer’ session. During this Q+A session audience members will be able to speak freely with the choreographer, performers and collaborators about both the performance and process.

TPD are excited to be bringing the work to Oxfordshire home of their contemporary dance training programme and Youth Company.  Thomas Page, artistic director, said:

“We’re really excited to be bringing Aporia to Oxford, working with such an amazing team of artists who are all so passionate about the work and raising the profile of dance in Oxford.”

“The response and experience of sharing Aporia, alongside our workshop and discussion around the work has been truly wonderful. I plan to keep developing the work and looking forward to organising a tour nationally for 2020, and who knows maybe internationally too!”

Performance:  Saturday 27th July 2019, 7.30pm

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

Tickets: £10 – £14 book online here or call the box office on 01865 263990

Duration:  40 minutes plus Q&A

 

Extras: Intense/flashing lights

 

As part of the Oxford Offbeat Festival, the Sona Lisa Dance Company performed Eleven, twelve, thirteen at The Old Fire Station, a series of dances and spoken reflections based around the traditional rhythms of Indian Kathak. It was a fascinating program, impressive in its professional standard and its often breath-taking beauty; a show of multiple collaborations, devised and woven together by Artistic Director Sonia Chandaria Tillu.

Kathak is the Hindustani name for one of the eight major forms of Indian classical dance. The origin of Kathak is traditionally attributed to the traveling bards of ancient northern India known as Kathakars or storytellers.  It is important to the art of these North Indian dances that they communicate an entire story through non-verbal actions and bodily movements: head turnings, eye glancings, finger shapings, distinctive torso positions from squats to turns and leaps. The intricacies of the stories must be honoured, as well, by the costume colours, the breathing, the hair style and its ornaments of flowers and/or jewels. All the visible details of deportment and dress signify elements of the dramatic story. (more…)

Oxford’s Offbeat is a festival of brand-new theatre, comedy, dance, family shows, spoken word and music.  A collaboration between Oxford Playhouse and Arts at the Old Fire Station now in its 3rd edition, it offers a host of opportunities to see something which wouldn’t usually come here.  It’s a blind date with a show you could fall in love with – right on your doorstep.

Take a chance on something exciting. This year’s festival runs from Monday 17th to Saturday 29th June with performances across the Old Fire Station and Burton Taylor Studio.  Here is a list of the dance shows:

Eleven, twelve, thirteen – Friday 21st June 6.00-7.00pm, Old Fire Station.  Ages 12+. Tickets £10, book online here

Eleven, twelve, thirteen explores the importance of numbers in our lives, from the significance of the number 11 in the world around us through to the iconic era of the Sufis during the 1200s and a light-hearted exploration of the troublesome thirTEENS. The production comprises a variety of original pieces that innovatively combine dance, music and the spoken word, and sprout unique collaborations between UK’s finest young British Asian artists across genres. Sona Lisa Dance Company is a Birmingham (England) based dance company set up by Artistic Director Sonia Chandaria Tillu in 2018, building a dance style and vocabulary based on one of the oldest classical Indian dance forms, Kathak, but speaking to contemporary audiences.

“…I also admired Sonia Chandaria Tillu for the way in which she contained and then released energy… the performance only lasted an hour, but I could have watched these dancers all night.” – Maggie Watson (Oxford Dance Writers) review on Sonia as a guest performer in FACET for Drishti Dance at the Offbeat Festival 2018

Find out more about the production and Sona Lisa Dance Company here

Jane – Saturday 22nd June at 12pm, 1.30pm and 3.30pm, Gloucester Green. Each performance lasts 20 minutes.  All ages, free – just come along.

A new dance theatre piece from Moxie Brawl looking inside the head of pre-Raphaelite artists’ muse Jane Morris. Playing with power, femininity with a touch of art history.  With bright blue costumes that turn into puppets, mesmerising choreography and cheeky performers, this show will brighten up your day as we tell Jane’s story.

‘Gloriously unsubtle’ – The Observer

Findo out more about Moxie Brawl here

A Moment – Tuesday 25th, Wednesday 26th, Thursday 27th June 8.30-9.30pm, Old Fire Station.  Suitable for all ages.  Tickets £10, book online here

‘I used to be interested in clothes, clubs, buying records. And men. Now my life…what life?’  Two performers explore what it was to be gay in the 80s when the UK was full of fear and ignorance, in a response to Bren Gosling’s ‘Moment of Grace’. An intimate duet moving through themes of paranoia, intimacy and oppression. The work also gives thanks to those who made it possible to say “HIV is no longer a death sentence.”

Thomas Page Dances is part of Offbeat’s supported artist programme.

★★★★ “In a different league” – The Sunday Express

Find out more about the production and Thomas Page Dances here

Sound Cistem – Wednesday 26th, Thursday 27th, Friday 28th June 7.00-7.50pm, Old Fire Station Studio. Ages 14+.  Tickets £5, book online here

“These are our bodies. What do you see?”  Two transgender performers say f**k you to the binary, and invite you to their radically queer dance party!  Set in nightclubs, Sound Cistem is an exuberant dance show about the cisgender gaze on the transgender body. Through riotous, glittering disco, shame is rejected and a self-love manifesto made. Unafraid to punch hard, Sound Cistem asks you to see the beauty in these bodies: and your own too.  This is a work in progress.

Plaster Cast Theatre is part of Offbeat’s supported artist programme.

Praise for their previous work:  ★★★★ “Unflinching” – The Scotsman
★★★★ “Gripping” – The List  ★★★★ “Extremely powerful” – North West End
★★★★★ Spectacular” – The Mancunion

Find out more about the production and Plaster Cast Theatre here