balletLORENT’s Rumpelstiltskin, is an engrossing story of love, parental betrayal and redemption. Rumpelstiltskin, a little boy rejected by his father the King following the death of the child’s mother, is cast out to live in the woods and hedgerows. Only the Shepherd’s Daughter is kind to him. They grow up, and when the Shepherd foolishly boasts that his daughter (Natalie Trewinnard) can spin straw into gold, the miserly King sets her to work, threatening to slaughter their sheep if she fails. (This is particularly poignant as the sheep are played by small children on all fours with sheepskins on their backs). Rumpelstiltskin (Gavin Coward) appears and for three long nights spins the straw into gold, in exchange for a ring, a kiss, and finally her first born child when she marries his father. When Rumpelstiltskin comes to claim the baby (there is an implication that the child is his), she breaks the contract by guessing his name. The outcast prince is re-united with his father, who conveniently dies, enabling the couple to marry. (more…)

In celebration of its 25th and last season of work, the Richard Alston Dance Company is embarking on an international farewell tour. The kind of endeavour you might normally associate with the break-up of a major band, or with Cher – who is perennially on her last tour, and I think has been saying farewell since at least the beginning of the last century, as is the whim of an eternal being. The scale feels only a bit different for Alston and his dancers. Final Edition: Oxford [1] is a culmination of many lives at work together, expanding the practices of modern, postmodern, and contemporary dance in the United Kingdom.

Because of his eponymous title the Etonian has a claim to canonical status and this tour could have become an overwrought monument to privilege and ego. Instead, what we witnessed in Oxford’s New Theatre on Wednesday night was a homage to a history of dance, branded, and shaped by Alston, advanced by collaborator Martin Lawrance, and most importantly, pulled off with immense style, presence, and love by a company of extraordinary dancers. (more…)

Why host an event which presents dance work focusing on various human rights issues in 2020?  This is a volatile time for many of us in the world, although the concept and ethos of human rights enables us to reflect upon the fact that at any given time human beings are fleeing persecution and seeking to affirm their human rights.  And so, in our turbulent times it is urgent to ask—what is our commitment as artists and human beings to the idea and practice of human rights?

My own introduction to human rights came a long time before I knew what that concept entails.  My political education was on the pro-Palestinian Israeli left, and so I’ve come to learn of human rights from the wrong side of history.  Even when my every day was shielded by walls and checkpoints from events of huge historical consequence occurring sometimes less than a few miles away, I knew well these events are part of my own life. And I realized early on that no one is free until everyone is free, and our human fate is entangled in others and so we have responsibilities towards them. (more…)

What can contemporary dance tell us about human rights? What can hip hop say about equality and human dignity? Join an evening of dance and discussion to find out.  Curated by scholar of dance and political philosophy Dr Dana Mills, this programme at the Old Fire Station is part of Oxford Brookes University’s forthcoming festival Think Human – what does it mean to be human in 2020?.

Dancing Human Rights offers an exciting opportunity to watch live dance that explores the theme of human rights, with powerful performances from respected dance artists Blakely White-McGuire, Eliot Smith and Oxford based emerging group Body Politic Dance; and to celebrate art’s power to challenge the social and political turmoil we face around the world today.

Performance:  Saturday 1st February, 6.00pm

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

Tickets:  The event now is sold out but if you would like to attend, or for more details, please contact Dana on d.mills@brookes.ac.uk

For more information about this programme read the curator’s blog here

Facing a storm, be it meteorological or manmade, there are various responses, innate, considered or irrational, that people make – do nothing, batten down, evacuate, even chase, watching cloud formations or personal interactions, trying to comprehend the imminent impact. The publicity for The Storm from James Wilton Dance company asked, “In this storm can you find peace?”

Heading to Oxford Playhouse, then, a front of questions loomed. With the unavoidable political and environmental contexts, foremost was what type of storm was this? We were told only to expect seven contemporary dancers “combining acrobatics, break dancing and martial arts to specially composed thundering electro-rock”; what transpired to this viewer was a storm of human dimensions. (more…)

First Look is a preview of new dance works commissioned by Dancin’ Oxford and Pegasus for Moving With The Times, the dance showcase an established part of the annual Dancin’ Oxford Festival.  An exciting chance to see this year’s companies present three incredible works in progress, followed by Q&A with the artists.

Burning House is a high physical contemporary dance piece that explores human mortality from Amy Foskett Dance. “Our bodies and our planet. Ignorance is bliss and we are blissfully ignoring it. Disregarding death and highlighting dangerous immortality…”

In a time of tick boxes, labels and separation Thomas Page Dances Commonality looks at the parts of life that everyone has in common. Through the exploration of shared experiences and feelings this performances paints the possibilities of coming together as one community. Featuring contemporary dance, a unique score, live photography and lots of tape!

Drishti Dance, is a well established performing arts organization producing high quality classical Indian dance works. Choreographed by Anuradha Chaturvedi, the Artistic Director, the work will be a contemporary expression of Kathak dance tradition, in all its exquisite grace and composure, creating a dynamic fusion of movement and rhythm set to the music of Shammi Pithia.

Performance:  Friday 17th January, 7.30pm

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

Tickets:  Moving With The Times – First Look is a Pay What You Can night.  Book your place(s) online or through the box office in advance and pay on the night – if you enjoy the evening and can pay more than a standard ticket price – please do, if you can’t – pay what you can.  Pegasus can’t take payments online in advance so if you wish to pay any amount by card in advance please call the box office 01865 812 150 and they will process your payment. Otherwise cash or card payments can be made on the night.

The final triple bill Moving With The Times will be at Pegasus 28th & 29th February 2020

There are no age restrictions for this piece and younger audiences are very welcome, but it is likely to be enjoyed most by those aged 11+

Richard Alston Dance Company’s Final Edition tour is part of their last season, the 25th no less, before the company sadly ceases to operate in April 2020.  Determined to go out with colours flying the Company has put together an exciting celebration of its unflagging creativity, with new works by Sir Richard Alston and Martin Lawrance, and also key works revived from the Company’s history, a richly diverse mix of dance and music.  Don’t miss their last visit to Oxford’s New Theatre because afterwards they really will be gone!

Final Edition includes: Red Run, set to Heiner Goebbel’s powerful music, evokes a terrain of shadows across which the dancers travel in nomadic clusters. Alston’s new Voices and Light Footsteps, is set to the sensuously expressive music of Monteverdi, genius of the Baroque.  Mazur, a duet to Chopin played live, offers an intense outpouring of longing for the composer’s beloved homeland.  Martin Lawrance’s new dance A Far Cry is set to Elgar’s impassioned Introduction & Allegro, and Isthmus (2006) to the intricate and delicate sounds of Japanese Jo Kondo.

‘The moment it ended I longed to see it again – immediately.’ ★★★★★ Culture Whisper

Performance:  Wednesday 22nd January, 7:30pm

Venue:  The New Theatre, 24-26 George St, Oxford OX1 2AG

Tickets:  From £19.90, book online here or in person at the Box Office

Find further information about Richard Alston Dance Company here

Another important evening programmed by DANSOX, and not to be missed.  As the Richard Alston Dance Company prepares and undertakes its final performances before the company’s closure in the spring after 25 years, major contemporary choreographer Sir Richard Alston brings dancers from his company to the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building prior to their performance at Oxford’s New Theatre on Wednesday 22nd January, to demonstrate his work as he and distinguished dance and music scholar Professor Stephanie Jordan reflect on his life and career.

Date:  Monday, 20th January, 5.30pm

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

Tickets: The event is free and open to all, but booking is essential. Book online here

Refreshments will be available.

 

Nocturne is a unique collaboration between classical musicians and Joëlle Pappas Projects which fuses unusual French music and expressive contemporary dance, in a way that enhances and enlarges the audience’s experience. The music is far more than a backdrop for the dance; and the dance is far more than an enactment of the music.  See this first in the Ante-Chapel of New College, with further performances in and around Oxford scheduled for early 2020.

A solo dance piece accompanies lyrical live music and song, exploring the dynamic relationship of movement and sound.  Joëlle Pappas performs a new contemporary dance work to Fauré’s Nocturne No 1 and Takemitsu’s Rain Tree Sketch II. She takes inspiration from the life and sculptures of Camille Claudel (1864 – 1943) who, after being Rodin’s talented assistant and muse, spent the last 30 years of her life interned in a psychiatric institution.

Tenor Rory Carver (winner Le Jardin des Voix 2019) performs a sequence of 19th-century French songs with pianist Diana Hinds. The songs include Fauré’s much-loved Clair de Lune (set to poetry by Verlaine), Debussy’s magnificent Le Jet d’Eau (Baudelaire) and finishes with a lovely French gem  L’heure exquise (Verlaine) by Reynaldo Hahn.

Performance:  Thursday 12th December 7.30pm

Venue:  New College Ante-Chapel, Holywell Street, OX1 3BN

Tickets:  £12/£10 available on the door

Find out more about Joëlle Pappas Projects here or on Facebook here

Further performances of Nocturne in 2020:

16th February, 7:30pm (£15) The Abbey in Sutton Courtenay

24th February, 1pm  St Michael at the Northgate, Oxford

1st March, 3pm (£10)  St Nicolas Church, Abingdon (Abbey Chamber Concerts)

Hosted by Dance Scholarship Oxford (DANSOX), Fertile Ground visits Oxford for the first time with a dynamic programme of dance, film and live music. Twilight Dances is a dance and music collaboration between Fertile Ground and Montréal based Quatuor Voxpopuli.  Fertile Ground’s current cohort of four young female professional dancers from the North East take to the stage in a new work created by Artistic Directors and former Rambert dancers Malgorzata Dzierzon and Renaud Wiser.  Performed to Schubert’s String Quartet No.14, Twilight Dances explores the eternal quest for the one thing that we cannot have – immortality.

The evening opens with a new musical performance composed by Voxpopuli’s Artistic Director Patrick Mathieu and a new film commission Trying to Make Sense – Make Sense of It by celebrated movement and theatre artist Wendy Houstoun.

Performance:  Wednesday 23 October, 7:30pm

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

Tickets: £15 regular/£5 students.  Book online here or call the Playhouse Box Office on 01865 305305

Find out more about the work of Fertile Ground here

Find out more about Wendy Houstoun here