It is a very good sign when, at the end of a dance piece, as the audience applauds, you assume only twenty minutes has passed and are surprised to discover it is more like forty. This was my pleasant experience at the end of Two old instruments, a simple, elegant and charming piece, presented by Ballet In Small Spaces, which brings to the fore the fundamental interplay between dancer and musician; an interplay so essentially at the heart of dance as a performance art. (more…)

The marvellous thing about work evolved between artist performers is that nuances and subtleties can be retained throughout the creative process from conception to execution. The intuitions of a collaborative response are unmediated by the blunt words of explanation: rather they flow in endless synergy between the participants, refined by repetition and honed by the urge to communicate in that special medium which is best known to each.

And this, I suspect, is what lay behind Two old instruments, a collaboration between Jonathan Rees on his old-fashioned gamba and Susie Crow with her experienced body. And the result was frankly extraordinary: in its range, its variety and its sustained exploration – through thirteen movements – of manuscript ideas by Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787). The manuscript fragments are themselves described in the programme as ‘essentially a set of written out improvisations, formally very free in most cases, with no clues in the manuscript as to a “correct” order for the pieces to be played in, or indeed as to the mood of many of them’.

So what did Rees and Crow improvise around another’s improvisations that made them so peculiarly their own? (more…)

The Exuberant Trust is a local Oxfordshire charity which supports young people’s aspirations in the arts by providing small grants at crucial times for specific purposes to help them achieve their goals.  Founded in 2003 in memory of Jennifer Graham-Jones, it has since then given out nearly 80 grants and over £42,000 to help young singers, instrumentalists, composers, dancers, designers, actors, video makers, jewellers, and workshop leaders.

The Trustees are delighted that Pegasus Theatre has agreed to host Exuberant Oxford! a special 10th anniversary showcase which will feature a range of talented young instrumentalists, emerging singer Anna Shackleton, a presentation by acclaimed Oxford theatre group Idle Motion, and performance by local dance artists such as Paulette Mae, Kathak dancer Anuradha Chaturvedi, Hannah de Cancho of Sole Rebel Tap, and street dance group BodyPolitic, as well as dance film by Erika Montenegro and video excerpts of Commedia by Susie Crow commissioned and supported by the Trust for Ballet in Small Spaces’ 2011 tour.  (more…)

Last year Oxford company Ballet in Small Spaces rehearsed, produced and opened its new show at the Castle, Wellingborough; a centrally situated municipal arts centre with a fully equipped flexible theatre capable of holding up to 500 people in conventional format or of showing work in the round, supported by a studio theatre rehearsal space, small dance studio and a full time professional technical and administrative team.  This April I was part of the company performing Dancing the Invisible at the Ivy Arts Centre, University of Surrey in Guildford, a similar flexible theatre space only recently converted from an old sports centre; here alongside the theatre a large dance studio where we rehearsed daily, other rehearsal rooms and production facilities, and a technical crew in which students from Guildford School of Acting could learn by working alongside seasoned professionals.

I revelled in these working conditions which on both occasions enabled focused professional work to be intensively developed, honed and presented at a high standard.  It is not currently possible to work like this in Oxford because Oxford lacks performing arts facilities like these.  (more…)

Dance Writers of the Future 2012

Following the successful Dance Writers of the Future project initiated by Ballet in Small Spaces in 2009, Oxford Dance Writers announces a second competition to find talented young writers on dance.  This year’s competition focuses on Dancin’ Oxford 2012, whose programme of exciting dance events, activities and performances from 18th February to 28th March provides multiple opportunities for reflective writing and critique.

  • Entrants are asked to submit a piece of original critical writing about an event taking place as part of the Dancin’ Oxford 2012 programme.  This could be a review of a performance, an account of a workshop experienced, discussion of a talk or conference presentation etc.
  • Length to be approximately 400 words.
  • Entries to be sent to Susie Crow of Oxford Dance Writers either by email, or hard copy by mail – see contact details below.  Please include with your entry your full contact details, including postal address, telephone and email, also date of birth.  Incomplete submissions cannot be accepted.
  • Deadline for submissions 5.00pm Monday 2nd April.
  • A panel of experienced professionals will judge entries and select winners in two categories; under 18 years and 18-22 years.
  • Prizes will include pairs of tickets for forthcoming dance performances in Oxford, including Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker, and dancers of English National Ballet and Flawless in Against Time at the New Theatre, and joint subscriptions to Dancing Times and Dance Today.
  • A selection of entries including the winners will be published online on the Oxford Dance Writers website, and the competition will be publicised in Oxford Times and nationally through Dancing Times who will publish two winning entries online.

Guidelines for writers:

“Good dance criticism is a multi-faceted endeavour.  It involves – at a minimum – description, interpretation and value judgement.”  – Roger Copeland

The judges will be looking for:

  • Flair, imaginative response
  • Evidence of some informed understanding
  • Inclusion of specific detail and useful information
  • Quality of written English

For the full Dancin’ Oxford 2012 programme:

http://www.dancinoxford.co .uk

For information and samples of writing from the previous competition:
http://www.balletinsmallspaces.co.uk/dance%20reviews.html

For further information about the competition, and to submit entries:

Susie Crow, Oxford Dance Writers

28 Victoria Road, Oxford OX2 7QD

Tel:  01865 557098              Email:  susiecrow@gmail.com