Oxford’s long established butoh dance theatre group Café Reason first showed its  ecologically focused work Tipping Point at the University of Hertfordshire last year, the outcome of this collaborative company’s collective exploration and creative response to “the threats facing our fragile planet”. In January 2020 the company unveiled it in Oxford over two sold out nights, testimony to a solid and sympathetic audience support base, but also to the topical urgency of its theme, increasingly in the public eye as we followed the horrific development of Australia’s bush fires. Corpus Christi College’s Al Jaber auditorium proved an apt setting, its reuse of ancient wall providing a dramatic irregular boundary and contrast to an otherwise technologically functional modern space. (more…)

With the clock ticking for the world to take action on climate change, Café Reason’s timely and provocative new work offers a creative response to the threats facing our fragile planet. Eloquent dance and eclectic live music express the vulnerability of the earth and our own responsibility for it, past and future.  Tipping Point: Our World in Crisis weaves together surreal physical theatre, vocal improvisation, original video, bizarre costume, and found objects, to shine a slantwise, shifting light on our complex and evolving relationship with the Earth. At once beautiful and disturbing, it presents an absorbing, challenging, and moving audience experience.

Café Reason is an Oxford based experimental performance company specialising in butoh – a radical dance form that originated in post-war Japan. Its work has aways enjoyed a synergy with other disciplines, combining dance with original music, poetry and other texts, installation art, and video. Constantly innovating, the group seeks to extend the boundaries of perception and the interpretation of what it means to be human.

Performances:  Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th January, 7.30pm

Venue:  Al Jaber Auditorium, Corpus Christi College, Merton Street, Oxford, OX1 4JF 

Tickets: £12 book through Eventbrite

Find out more about Café Reason performances and classes here

Late on Monday 6th November 2017 Ana Barbour, much loved, inspirational and guiding presence in the Oxford dance scene, passed away having battled with cancer.  Her touching funeral at the home she loved on Sunday 12th November was attended by numerous family, friends, and colleagues, and was a celebration of her life and achievements in speeches, songs and dance.  I felt honoured to speak on that occasion about Ana’s work as a dance artist in Oxford, and I am posting here my speech to pay tribute to her.  You can also find links below to her own blog Anadances, Cafe Reason of whom she was an integral part, and the DEC Project; and her own occasional writings for this blog.  Oxford Dance Writers would really welcome other voices in this endeavour of remembrance, so please use the comments facility below to add to this partial picture your particular memories of Ana.  Thank you!

Ana Barbour

When I mounted the Solos Project for Oxford dance artists in 2008 Ana was one of six dancers who showed solos in the Burton Taylor’s intimate studio space. Her Butoh inspired piece Baggage accompanied by the atmospheric music of her long term friend and collaborator Malcolm Atkins was a remarkable episode in which having entered bowed down by a bundle on her back she burrowed into the baggage itself, morphing into surreal shapes and images of confined struggle that were humorous, poignant and dreamlike. It was my first experience of Ana as creative imagination and compelling performer. (more…)

Café Reason Butoh Theatre is an experimental performance group specialising in butoh, the iconoclastic dance form that originated in postwar Japan.  Established in Oxford in 1997, Café Reason is the only permanent butoh company in the UK outside London and has achieved a fine reputation for its innovative theatre, site-specific and improvised performances.  An abandoned dolls’ house and an unclaimed bag of costumes were the unexpected starting points for the group’s enigmatic new show Dolls’ House which premieres at the Pegasus Theatre on Friday 16th January.  Through the compelling medium of butoh, with live music and film, it explores the dream symbol of “the House” and reveals the inhabitants’ secret lives and eternal dilemmas.  Dark, moving and humorous, the physical performance is underpinned by live music from a trio of multi-instrumentalists, complementing their compositions with digital effects and found sound to create a haunting soundscape.

Dolls’ House is a collaboration between Café Reason, film maker Dariusz Dziala, and musicians Malcolm Atkins, Bruno Guastalla and Pete McPhaill.  This truly original theatre experience has lighting design by Josh Tomalin.  Dancers are Jeannie Donald McKim, Ayala Kingsley, Fabrizia Verrechia, Ana Barbour and Cath Blackfeather: also appearing are Alex Donaghy, Andreia Paixao, Alan Frank and Paula Esposito.

Performances:  Friday 15th, Saturday 16th January 7.30pm

Venue:  Pegasus Theatre, Magdalen Road, Oxford OX4 1RE

Tickets:  £13, £9 concessions, £6 under 18s

Book online here or call 01865 812150

Find out more about Café Reason here and follow them on Facebook here

Twitter:  @CafeReason #dollbutoh

On each Scratch Night at the Old Fire Station, local and regional theatre performers, comedians or dance artists perform works in progress for audiences to watch and give feedback on.  This month, DANCE SCRATCH takes place, supported by the wonderful organisation, Oxford Dance Forum (ODF) on Tuesday 21st July.  Dancers get a chance to try out works-in-progress in a safe space; for audiences it is an opportunity to see new dance work and give feedback.  Artists presenting on this occasion are Butoh group Cafe Reason, Paulette Mae, Anuradha Chaturvedi & Meena Anand, and Roosa Leimu-Brown & Anja Meinhardt.
(more…)

In The Heart’s Desire the world of the senses is revealed in voice and movement. Café Reason Butoh Dance Theatre and Moving Tone embark on a collaborative investigation into the five senses, Free Will, and the reconciliation of opposites among the classical statuary in the atmospheric setting of the Randolph Gallery of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, with a work-in-progress performance on this coming August Bank Holiday.  A chance to see the fruits of the first stage in development of a major new work, The Heart’s Desire, created jointly by Cafe Reason with voice artist Anne L. Ryan (Moving Tone). (more…)

Saturday June 1st was the eleventh in Cafe Reason’s series of Diamond Nights.  Conceived as a platform to share and show experiments and new work it continues to offer the chance to see interesting and experimental pieces in a small theatrical environment.

The evening began with Fabrizia Verrechia performing three pieces of Indian Classical Bharatanatyam dance.  Besides the beautiful, expressive dancing and lovely costume, Fabrizia introduced the audience to a little background information about this traditional form and also some of the meanings of the gestures.  This was interesting in itself and reminded me of the difference there can be in fully appreciating a classical dance form such as ballet and the means used to tell a story compared to a contemporary work.  (more…)

The eleventh in Cafe Reason‘s series of Diamond Night arts evenings, this time curated by Ana Barbour and Paul MacKilligin and featuring live music, voice, dance and film, bringing ‘uncut performance gems’ into the spotlight.

“…with an eye made quiet… we see into the life of things.”
(William Wordsworth)

Cafe Reason is engaged in a continuous process of exploration and experimentation through its classes and through works-in-progress, and has long-term ideas both for live performance and dance for film, as well as responding to opportunities that present themselves along the way. The group is always interested in collaborations with musicians, visual and film artists, or creating site-specific performances in unusual locations. (more…)

Café Reason’s 10th  Diamond Night.   24th November 2012

Six different works covering dance, poetry, projection, live music, film and voice in Café Reason’s 10th Diamond Night  organised this time by Paola Esposito and Fabrizia Verrechia.  There was a good turn out for the cosy space of Oxford Brooke’s drama studio.  Good to see this support for new work.

The first piece by Anne Ryan was a short vignette in which a face peers out from a frame.  A soundtrack of recorded voice traces a range of emotions expressed in the subtle changing nuances of the framed face. Simple, elegant and strong. (more…)

Cafe Reason presents Diamond Night 10

The tenth in Cafe Reason’s series of bi-monthly arts evenings, bringing ‘uncut performance gems’ by members of the group and guests into the spotlight.  Conceived by Jeannie Donald-McKim, Diamond Nights – Explorations in performance is an informal platform for sharing new performance ideas, choreographies, experiments and collaborations. (more…)