The concentrated format of recent editions of Dancin’ Oxford has made it seem more like a festival, generating excitement through a swift succession of varied events and usually one night stands; however with that comes the difficulty of invidious choices, what to see and attend, and regrets at performances missed.  Particularly an issue for dance where much regular activity is squeezed into the evenings and weekends rather than the normal working day, and dance lovers and practitioners must therefore choose between doing and viewing.  Cheering to report that despite this a couple of shows by popular local performers managed to sell out, making me for one less guilty about not having been able to support them from the audience.  I chose to focus on the interaction of science and dance, a dominant theme of this year’s festival, with plenty of opportunities for questions and discussion. (more…)

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How can dancers and scientists collaborate, and why would they? Can dance inspire new scientific research, and can science give meaning to new choreography?  This year’s conference programmed by DANCE & ACADEMIA: Moving the Boundaries in partnership with Dancin’ Oxford 2015 and Oxfordshire Science Festival presents Science and Dance – Finding Commonalities, to be held at The Jam Factory on Sunday 8th March.  This lively and interactive day brings together as facilitators and presenters a distinguished groiup of artists and academics, and will give movement practitioners, academics, scientists and anyone interested in any aspect of movement or dance an opportunity to stretch their mental and physical muscles, exploring shared and diverging understandings of science and dance and how these might fit together.

Facilitators on the day include:

Subathra Subramaniam is a choreographer, dancer and educator. She is the artistic director of Sadhana Dance. Suba’s choreography navigates the confluence of arts and science drawing from her belief that dance can play a part in the public understanding and engagement with scientific concepts. Her work combines contemporary choreography and Bharata Natyam, an ancient South Indian dance form.

Bronwyn Tarr recently completed her doctoral thesis at University of Oxford, Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group, in which she managed to formally integrate her interests in social behaviour and dance. She advocates the use of dance as an ecologically and culturally valid platform for scientific research into topics of motor-coordination, music psychology, social agency and even autism therapies.

The Captured Thought is a collaboration between Nicky Clayton, Professor of Comparative Cognition and also Scientist in Residence at Rambert, and Clive Wilkins, Artist in Residence, both based in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge. The opportunity for an artist to collaborate uniquely with a scientist arose out of a chance encounter on one of life’s dancefloors. A tango dance floor in fact…

Also joining the panel will be Morten Kringelbach, Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, and Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, Associate Professor of Modern Drama, both of the University of Oxford.

Conference date:  Sunday 8th March, 10.30am-4.30pm with Panel Discussion 5.00-6.00pm

Venue:  The Jam Factory, 27 Park End Street, Oxford OX1 1HU

Tickets: £18, £15 concessions (includes lunch); Panel Discussion only: £5

Book online via Tickets Oxford here or call the Playhouse Box Office on 01865 305305

All welcome.

Find out more about Dancin’ Oxford 2015 here

Dull Roots / Spring Rain, performed by the Dream Again Dance Company at the O’Reilly Theatre, Keble College, Oxford on 6 February 2013

It is a great achievement for a group of students to form a dance company and be ready to perform original work within a few months. The evening consisted of three new works, danced in swift succession, the first by Martha Masoero, the second by Emily Romain, and the third a collaboration between the two choreographers, performed by a cast of female dancers. Although only the second work was a “story ballet”, the first and the third had narrative threads that gave them their structure. They were linked by shared themes and the allusion in their titles to the opening lines of The Waste Land. Programme notes informing the audience of the significance of each work, rather than letting it emerge from the performance perhaps revealed a lack of confidence. All three felt like early works, in which the choreographers were trying things out, and the dancers still seeking their own performance styles, and the result was an interesting and enjoyable evening. (more…)

It’s always good to see students taking the initiative in the arts, and this is a great example. It takes little independent thinking to put on a Shakespeare play, though I’m not saying it’s easy, and still less so to do Pinter or Sarah Kane. To found an undergraduate contemporary dance company, apparently organising from scratch, must have required a good deal of determination, and for this Dream Again’s Artistic Director, Emily Romain, is to be very highly commended. But despite showing potential, the first show from the all female group, a mixed bill based loosely on themes from the myth of Persephone, seems less than it could have been, had music choices and some specifics of the choreography been better. (more…)