The annual Offbeat Festival is a hive of new performance in Oxford showcasing brand-new theatre, comedy, dance, family shows, spoken word and music right on the doorstep. A collaboration between Oxford Playhouse and Arts at the Old Fire Station, it incorporates live and pre-recorded performances streamed from the Old Fire Station and Burton Taylor Studio. Take a chance on something exciting; here are details of dance shows at Offbeat.

Wednesday 13th July 8.00-9.00pm: Commonality

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

Tickets: £10 – book online here

Shared experiences in a world of division, with Thomas Page Dances.  Featuring contemporary dance, a unique score, live photography and an interactive set, Commonality looks at the parts of life that everyone has in common. Through the exploration of shared experiences and feelings, this performance paints the possibilities of coming together as one community.

Friday 15th July 8.00-9.00pm: Going Global

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

Tickets: £10 – book online here

Aradhana Arts are excited to bring Going Global to the Old Fire Station as part of Offbeat Festival, bringing together an ensemble of talented musicians presenting a rich mix of music from around the globe. The ensemble is led by the critically acclaimed Tabla Master Sanju Sahai and features versatile violinist Alice Barron, talented Sitarist and Vocalist Debipriya Sircar, versatile Guitarist Giuliano Modarelli and North Indian classical Kathak dance by Jaymini Sahai. Suitable for ages 10 years+

Sunday 17th July 11.00am-12.00: Apple ‘n’ Spice

Venue: BT Studio, Gloucester Street, Oxford OX1 2BN

Tickets: £8 – book online here

Sanskruti Dance introduces children to storytelling, dance and shadow puppetry with Apple ‘N’ Spice, an original, interactive and multi-cultural performance incorporating bharatanatyam and contemporary dance. This new fairy tale tells the story of two stepmothers; one from the East and one from the West, watch the plot thicken as their stories entwine. “Children and their families watched on in awe.” – Colchester and North Essex Gazette. Suitable for ages 5 years+

‘Kaash’ means ‘if only’ in Hindi, and Kaash (Revival) begins ambiguously, blurring the boundary between performers and audience.  A dancer stands upstage right, broad shouldered and narrow waisted like an archaic statue, his back to the hubbub of the fully-lit auditorium as people settle into their seats.  His intense stillness, followed by a sudden blackout before a thunderous outburst of sound, light and movement is a magnificent piece of theatre, but Kaash (Revival), which forms part of the Southbank’s delayed celebration of Ravi Shankar’s 100th birthday, is far more than a dramatic entertainment.

(more…)

Long established and highly respected Oxford dance makers Cecilia Macfarlane and Joëlle Pappas join together this spring to curate a three day festival of professional, adult community, and youth dance at the Old Fire Station under the title Life Line. The three shows, suitable for audiences of all ages, comprise:

Life Line

This evening of dance with live music is curated by Cecilia Macfarlane and Joëlle Pappas who relish the opportunity to share the passion and deep artistic values that they hold in common. Their careers as dancers, directors, teachers and mentors are rooted in the knowledge that Dance is the key to healthy living and our surviving on this planet.

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.  The world will not have it.  It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions.  It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”  ― Martha Graham

Thursday 31st March 7.30pm

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

Book online here

Curious Dancing: DugOut Adult Community Dance

DugOut Community Dance Group present Curious Dancing, an evening of dance created and performed by its members and guests with direction from Cecilia Macfarlane. All the dancers celebrate how powerfully dance can release expression, feed the soul and entertain others. We celebrate difference; the excitement is not in uniformity but unique individuality that can powerfully change lives. Find out more about Dugout here.

Friday 1st April 7.30pm

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

Book online here

Ripples, Echoes…: Tac-au-Tac Youth Dance and guests

“Look out, now! We’re ready to jump!
Because the rhythm is jumpin’, jump session
Doo wadda doodoo wadda doodoo wat doo wah” ― Slim & Slam

Tac-au-Tac Youth Dance and Joëlle Pappas present two entertaining programmes of contemporary dance.

Ripples of the past, echoes of the present, dance carries us forward…

Saturday 2nd April 4.00pm

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

Book online here

Oxford Dance Forum are delighted finally to be back at Arts at the Old Fire Station to share an evening of new dance works in progress by ODF members, and invite feedback, comments and discussion with the audience.

Pragna Das – Bhoboghure

Moving ahead- sometimes it happens that we get stuck in a situation or a thing. This piece describes that feeling and the urge to move ahead, and how that process happens. The dilemma of being comfortable with people around, and when you are forced to move ahead without them as they were gone in the delinquent.

Susie Crow – Technical studies project

Over the course of the pandemic and under the limitations of lockdown I have been creating miniature dances arising from balletic technical challenges, that could be practised and performed at home. Western classical musicians have long written and published technical studies, making them available to all who wish to try playing them. I hope to make my dance studies similarly publicly available online, and am investigating appropriate formats and platforms for doing this.

Dancers: Ségolène Tarte, Evie Tucker and Thomas Page

Helen Edwards – Finding Stone

We are of the earth
Exploring a dialogue with stones found by the sea
Carrying these stones with me
My body feeling their weight, density, atmosphere and stories,
I am slowed by them,
Anchored in presence
The dance emerges from the body in the liminal spaces between the memories of stone and water
A residue of this ancient knowledge
The strata of life and layers of time

Date: Wednesday 9th February 7.30pm

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

Tickets: £5 on the door or book online here

Oxford Dance Forum would like to thank Arts at the Old Fire Station and all their team for supporting this event.

Find out more about Oxford Dance Forum via the website here and on Facebook here

Agudo Dance Company’s Carmen takes a fresh look at a familiar narrative, using a movement vocabulary that draws on Flamenco, Kathak and contemporary dance.  At the start, seven beams of light from above gradually illuminate each of the dancers, as they crouch in darkness on the floor, slowly creeping towards the audience, their hands clasped behind their backs.  The four men and three women dance barefoot, so the sound of Flamenco rhythms comes not so much from their beating feet as from composer Bernhard Schimpelsberger’s percussive score.

Jose Agudo has created an expressive and exciting dance style that successfully integrates Kathak-like footwork with the strong oppositions, arched backs and intense focus of Flamenco, and the freedom and generous breadth of contemporary dance technique.  The dancers move with strongly supported upper backs and arms as they perform swift glissade-type steps, pirouettes en dehors in attitude, dramatic spinning turns that freeze abruptly, and quick backward flicks of the foot.

Although there is a story, taken direct from Prosper Mérimée’s novella rather than from Bizet’s opera, this is not a detailed retelling of the tale.  Carmen’s relationships with the other dancers form the heart of the work, whether she is competing angrily with another woman or ensnaring the man who will eventually kill her.  We know that he is an outsider from the subtle flashes of red in the lining of his jerkin, which match her scarlet dress as they perform a duet that consists almost entirely of complex and erotically charge lifts, in which she seems hardly to touch the ground.  The women’s swirling skirts, the rugged machismo of the men, and the music interwoven with a thread of Cuban Bolero create an exotic, dangerous and reckless atmosphere.  Carmen’s death seems inevitable, and when at the end her lover holds her lifeless body in his arms, she seems to be a sacrificial victim, mourned by her companions in a frenzied dance.

This was collective work, and as the cast list did not attribute roles to individuals, I name all the dancers:  Nikita Goile, Joshua Scott, Luke Watson, Yukiko Masui, Faye Stoeser, Juan Sánchez Plaza and Nicola Micallef.

Maggie Watson

3rd November 2021

Find out more about Jose Agudo and his company here

The latest work from ‘genre-defying’ choreographer Alexander Whitley harnesses motion capture technology to explore the biological form of the human body. This spectacular new stage production asks, are organisms just algorithms? Is life just data processing? Whitley’s experimental new work Anti-Body uses motion capture technology in a unique and visually thrilling dance experience that sees dancers perform together live and in virtual space.

Renowned for creating ambitious, interdisciplinary, and thought-provoking work with innovation and digital technology at its core, Anti-Body is Whitley’s first new work for the stage since the Covid-19 pandemic and will preview at DanceEast on Friday 8th October 2021 and Oxford Playhouse, in partnership with Oxford Science and Ideas Festival (IF Oxford), on Tuesday 26th October 2021.

(more…)

DANSOX Summer Programme 2021 continues…

DANSOX invites you to a sharing of new choreography Sum Dance – A Collaborative Response by renowned Rambert dancers, Liam Francis and Simone Damberg Würtz.

Date: Sunday 22nd August 2pm.

Venue: Jacqueline du Pre Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Cowley Pl, Oxford OX4 1DY

No charge, but limited seating, so please rsvp susan.jones@ell.ox.ac.uk and
cc marcus.bell@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk to confirm a place.

You are welcome to drop in to watch the making of the work any day/time between 17th and 22nd August but please email us first (Covid rules).

DANSOX looks forward to welcoming you during the week or for an after-lunch Sunday treat.

Find out more about DANSOX here

Watch previous DANSOX events on the DANSOX YouTube channel here

Oxford-based Thomas Page Dances‘ thought provoking and beautifully mesmerising contemporary dance show A Moment is available online via Arts at the Old Fire Station, Oxford until 4th July, as part of a national mix-mode tour.

Responding to Bren Gosling’s play Moment of Grace, two contemporary dancers (Llewelyn Lewis and Thomas Page) explore what it was to be Queer in the 80s and Princess Diana’s opening of Britain’s first AIDS unit.

“I used to be interested in clothes, clubs, buying records. And men. Now my life…what life? – Quote from Moment of Grace, Bren Gosling.

After being featured in Offbeat Festival’s Supported Artists Programme, Thomas Page Dances, are presenting this intimate duet, with the hope to spark a new wave of conversations around HIV/AIDS helping to raise awareness whilst creating a physical archive of such a vital part of our history. The performance moves through gestural phrases and intricate partnering to create different episodes and relationships creating a highly visceral experience for the audience. Set to a delicate, yet powerful score by composer Robert Singer.

Premièred in London with a sold-out run at the Bloomsbury Festival in a double bill with Gosling’s play, the show uses Page’s signatory blend of detailed hand gestures and contortion fused with Contemporary dance, and has already sparked a growing following in with just two runs of performances in London and Oxford.

If you’re a fan of contemporary dance, come for a gorgeous piece by a fantastic emerging company. If you’ve never come to a dance performance before, come for a heartbreaking duet: the perfect first dance show.” – The Old Fire Station’s programming team

★★★★ “In a different league” – The Sunday Express on Thomas Page Dances

“An incredible piece giving a platform to allow for conversation. Truly mesmerising and awakening.” Audience member, 2019

“The National HIV Story Trust is recording and preserving stories told by people who have been touched by HIV/AIDS Since the 1980s. We seek also to re-imagine those experiences through the arts and are proud to associate with the dynamic Thomas Page Dance Company.” – Paul Coleman, National HIV Story Trust

Available online to watch until end of Sunday 4th July

Duration: 40 minutes

Tickets: Standard £10, Pay more £15, Pay less £5

Book for the show and buy tickets here

Find out more about Thomas Page Dances here

Oxford’s annual theatre festival Offbeat hosted by Oxford Playhouse and Arts at the Old Fire Station is back after a year’s absence. The brand-new, socially distanced festival brings the best of thought-provoking, entertaining theatre to in-person, online and outdoor audiences from 22nd to 27th June. Here are details of some dance and physical theatre events to watch online from 10.00am Tuesday June 22nd to 9.00pm Sunday June 27th, and a live streamed performance by Drishti Dance on Saturday 26th June at The Old Fire Station.

Kattam Katti transports you to Uttarayan, the world-famous festival in North India where millions of people fly kites together to mark the transition from winter into spring. Tapping into the competitive chaos, creativity and colour of the event, this film brings life to kite flying with lyricism, drama and exquisite technique. Kattam Katti is created and Choreographed by Artistic Director, acclaimed dance artist, Urja Desai Thakore in collaboration with Award-winning Screendance production company, The Motion Dance Collective. Featuring a new generation of Asian British dancers and musicians.

By Pagrav Dance Company

Duration 19 minutes: watch online, on-demand for free: please book online here

Ina Ama is a dance project with the goal of showcasing and facilitating a space for Filipino artists. Jason Mabana writes: As a choreographer with a Filipino heritage, I felt it was necessary to provide a safe space where the dancers, the collaborators and I could exchange and share a few aspects from our culture.

The project started from one of the many articles which mentioned that 20% of the NHS Staff that died during Covid 19 were Filipino. We were all astonished by this shocking number and wanted to help in our own way. The piece is looking at a few subjects such as mental health which is not talked about widely in our culture but also have an approach which is more educating people to some facets of our culture such as Tinikling, The Bayanihan Spirit, family bonding…

We have worked with different collaborators such as The British Filipino Choir (HARAYA) who are a group of singers as well as nurses, Mikayla Teodoro who is a Filipino Set Designer specialized in Puppetry, Troy Cabida, a poet from London who shared his texts for our creation.

By Jason Mabana

Duration 30 minutes: watch online, on-demand, price £5, please book online here

Unfurl – A gallery of dance films without a choreographer. Three dancers from around the globe were invited to film themselves improvising on themes of connection, joy and kindness. Director Joe Lott edited their improvisations to create a portrait of each dancer. Join Bonnie Simons, Tingting Yang, and Karni Ishai, as they gently release their limbs, unwinding like ferns in the breeze. Moments of movement are playfully layered, interwoven and dissolved.

Joe Lott is a Brighton-based choreographer, film-maker and arts and education marketing professional. Follow Joe Lott on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joe_lott_ @Joe_Lott_
Explore Joe’s work: www.joelottdance.co.uk

Tingting Yang is a dance artist and language teacher based in Oxford.

Bonnie Simons is currently completing her Masters in Performance at Chichester University.
Follow Bonnie on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bonniesimonsdance_/ @BonnieSimonsDance_

Karni Ishai is a movement therapist and Jungian analyst.

Watch these films here

Through Our Eyes is a powerful, thought-provoking dance film by Shaquille Brathwaite-Blaggrove, inspired by Black Lives Matter protests. There are many people who still believe racism does not exist. There are many people who believe that systemic oppression does not exist. There are many people who think white privilege does not exist. We invite you to come and see what life is like for us. We want you to see things through our eyes.

Watch the film for free here

Color Me Rainbow

I colour myself a rainbow…
A full spectrum of the shades of yore…
I am embraced in their true brilliance-
From this day to the days of long before! ..

Theo Onken

A collection of short Kathak works from Drishti Dance, each exploring the nature of intricate bond that connects colours with human consciousness and nature. Colours are the outer manifestation of the elemental moods of inner world, joy, sorrow, grief, desire and above all love, and the collage of works is a joyful celebration of these complex emotional connections and their interplay through a combination of movement music and poetry.

Suitable for ages 6 plus. At the Old Fire Station Theatre – and livestreamed. Tickets £10, book online here

Another fascinating online dance event coming up from DANSOX: International choreographer, Kim Brandstrup, currently one of two Director’s Fellows at New York University’s Center for Ballet and the Arts (CBA) for 2019/20, will give the lecture, Hearing Footsteps – the ear and the audible in dance and choreographic practice, with practical demonstration from dancers, Estela Merlos and Thomasin Gulgec.

This event will be added to the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building’s YouTube channel from Wednesday 9th December. Watch this and more on the DANSOX playlist.