Fresh from a sold-out week run at the Barbican, Rhiannon Faith’s current work, Smack That (a conversation), has been touring the UK to critical acclaim, and will be performed at Oxford’s Burton Taylor Studio on 25th April.  Rhiannon Faith is a socially conscious contemporary dance artist whose work is an agent for discourse and change; she makes form-defying autobiographical shows that have guts, and that take guts.  Her creative process draws  stories from the communities and artists she works with. The result is work which uses dance and theatre (in their widest meanings) to take the audience on a narrative led journey, which is both challenging and accessible.

In Smack That Beverly is having a party and you are one of her guests. Each member of the all-female cast fearlessly takes on the persona of Beverly to convey real experiences.  The unusual setting creates a safe space for them to reveal the turbulence and challenges they have faced and celebrate their endurance with the audience. Expect games, dancing, humour and a very raw and honest account of domestic abuse.

Rhiannon Faith’s work often involves a wide range of collaborating partners including a psychologist, a neuroscientist, a domestic abuse charity, and most recently a philosopher on virtue ethics and moral psychology.  Smack That (a conversation) has also been published by Oberon Books as an instructional dance play.

Performance:  Thursday 25th May 7.30pm

Venue:  Burton Taylor Studio, Gloucester Street, Oxford OX1 2BN

Tickets:  £10 Book online here, or call the Oxford Playhouse Box Office on 01865 305305

Duration:  1 hour 20 minutes with no interval

Age Guideline:  18+

Find out more about Rhiannon Faith here

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Lucy Suggate and James Holden’s performance of Pilgrim, an investigation into what it is to lose yourself in music, is unforgettable. The theatre was dimly lit, the light diffused by a tinge of pink and blue, with chairs arranged around the edge of the room to leave as much performance space as possible. It was a wet night, and our shoes left damp patches on the dance floor as we edged around it to our seats, but fortunately Lucy Suggate is a ‘terpsichore in sneakers’ – literally – wearing tracksuit bottoms and a long dark shirt buttoned to the neck, which in time she removes revealing a gleaming mosaic-encrusted evening top. (more…)

What’s so special about losing yourself in movement and music?

This is the question that Lucy Suggate and James Holden are trying to answer with Pilgrim. This new show combines Suggate’s irreverently entertaining dance style with Holden’s otherworldly electronic score to create an experience that will entrance all lovers of music and dance.

Lucy Suggate is a choreographer whose been making fascinating dance theatre since 2003. In that time, she’s honed her creative and bold style, creating numerous five star shows that overflow with grace, humour and passion. An international success, she comes to Oxford now with a performance that’s sure to entrance you with its poise, vulnerability and rhythm.

For Pilgrim, she is joined by the spine-tingling music of James Holden. A musician and DJ whose been making hit music since 1999, Holden’s first album was described by the Guardian as “astonishing”. His intricate rhythms make the perfect landscape for Suggate to explore and lose herself in.

To summarise: we think that this partnership is incredibly exciting and that Pilgrim is that special kind of dance show that will take your breath away. Don’t miss it.

Date:  Friday 6th January, 7.30pm

Venue:  Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford Playhouse, Gloucester Street, Oxford OX1 2BN

Tickets:  £10 (discounts £8)

Call Ticket Office on 01865 305305 or book online at http://www.oxfordplayhouse.com

Critic turned critic-entrepreneur Donald Hutera is creating and curating opportunities for dancers to perform who might otherwise have few occasions to show their work. Oxford is a first for GOlive and there is a further outing at the Chesil Theatre in Winchester on July 24. The venues are small — the original GOlive venue at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town holds 60 people and the Burton-Taylor studio seats 50 — but their intimacy works well for the small-scale works Hutera is presenting. One of the advantages of this proximity is the value given to the subtleties of communication; there are elements of this evening’s program that provide a master class in the art of integrating the head and eyes in the moving body, a vital aspect that is all too often overlooked in dance training. (more…)

Getting a ticket to a dance programme arouses comfortable expectations of pleasure – of colour, patterning and conformity. In Oxford’s Burton Taylor studio last week, Donald Hutera’s GOlive programme was satisfyingly full of all of these – but it was also never predictable, oddly fragmented and often deeply unsettling. And in my head the after-images are of faces as much as of body shapes – a heat of emotional impact – a sense of hope – a touch of catharsis.

The very ordering of the programme forced strange juxtapositions. It began with what Shane Shambhu described as his “lecture-demonstration” – a cogent dance drama through which his personal narrative wove a coherent thread. Twenty-seven years of bharatanatyam dance gave his work an assured technical underpinning. But it was its immediacy and variety that made it so accessible to academic, pensioner and child in the fifty-strong studio audience. For this was a narrative that flowed by Nritta – by taps and clicks and thumps – through sounds vocal and guttural – as well as by the mime and dance of Natya, the shifting registers of formal delivery, of conversational English, of interactive name games and the musicality of Shane’s native Kerala tongue. Never before have I been more aware of dance as one member of so intimately interconnected a family of languages. (more…)

We are up close and personal in the Burton Taylor Studio at the Oxford Playhouse.  Presenting dance in small space makes fresh demands on performers as well as those of us watching.  The proximity of the dancers intensifies the experience. The degree of intimacy is a little unsettling, but we are a friendly crowd and a warm camaraderie fuels goodwill.

Curated by Donald Hutera, GOlive is in its third year.  Introducing the programme Hutera is like a kid in a sweet shop and his enthusiasm is infectious.  All six works had something new to offer.  My Own Private Movie choreographed and performed by Susan Kempster involves some of the audience entering the performance space and engaging in very simple improvisations. Kempster gives us all MP3 players with unique soundtracks.  In something akin to my daily commute, my head and my body are in two different places.  And perhaps this is Kempster’s point, the delicious contradiction of social media: together and not together, caught between the virtual and the physical but unable to belong wholly to either. (more…)

Donald Hutera has brought Oxford a remarkable programme of innovative dance, which is also an exciting opportunity to see local artists’ work in a broader context.

The evening opened with Marina Collard’s And So It Goes On, a beautifully thought out dance that combined live performance and film. Collard danced in relation to her filmed image, projected onto the brick wall at the back of the stage, in a work full of subtle reflections and repetitions. Elegant, intense, yet restrained, the vertical focus of the live dance on the flat floor in front gained an added dimension from the video beside it, not only because there seemed to be a second dancer moving in a different plane, but also because the feeling of a raked stage at a different angle behind. Next, Oxford hip hop dancers Beat Street followed with Heart Cry, a graceful and surprisingly gentle work performed by three young men, who used the genre in an original and unusual way. (more…)