Dance? Mime? Theatre? Peut-Etre . . .

When I was asked to review a children’s show called Tidy Up, I immediately anticipated an hour or so of theatrical fun. I also gleefully anticipated that my children, aged five and nine, would receive a subliminal message that tidiness is COOL! I was not disappointed.

The three Tidy Up performers had a giggling North Wall audience in the palms of their hands from the very beginning, accompanying the slapping of their hands on their bottoms with cheeky, over the shoulder winks. With the performers enjoying themselves, the fun was infectious. (more…)


On the evening of the 4th of May, the Oxford-based DEC Drawing Dance group will be performing for Headington & Marston Artweeks at All Saints Church, Headington offering a unique artistic experience.  Dancers, musicians and visual artists interact in composed and improvised performance using live video projection of painting and drawing in the moment.  In celebration of Artweeks DEC will also be projecting artwork submitted by local children as a stimulus.  Accoustic music group AMV specialize in the inauthentic playing of early music, with witty and tuneful interpretations of songs old and new.  Come along and experience a playful and poetic evening of  cohesion of  music, dance and art. (more…)

To the Female Choreographers’ Collective programme “The Experiment” at the Laban Theatre last Tuesday 23rd April.  FCC’s Holly Noble and Jane Coulston convened a programme of six works, three by male choreographers and three by female, to be anonymously performed, to test the hypothesis that choreographic work is influenced by gender, and to discover if there might be any bias in the audience towards male and female authored works.  The audience filled in anonymous questionnaires about their dance viewing habits and impressions of the works being presented.

The curious can now find out the identities of the featured artists which have been revealed on the FCC website:

A substantial labour of data analysis now lies ahead for the FCC to discover what their lively audience made of the evening; however some forthright comments have already been posted about it on online dance magazine Bellyflop:

Meanwhile the debate about sexism in dance and the invisibility of work by female choreographers has now reached beyond the confines of the dance world thanks to a powerful article by Observer dance critic Luke Jennings:

Scroll down after reading to a succession of thoughtful and passionate postings in response… Add you own or post a comment about this here on Oxford Dance Writers…

This Friday 2nd November, a chance to see Lost Dog‘s Place Prize winning duet It Needs Horses at the Corn Exchange in Newbury, alongside the company’s newest work Home for Broken Turns.  Blackly comic and highly physical dance theatre performed by an international cast of performers from some of Europe’s most reputable dance and physical theatre companies, including Hofesh Schechter Company, Fabulous Beast and Gecko.  It Needs Horses tells the tale of a down at heel circus duet and their increasingly desperate attempts to entertain the crowd… (more…)

Rising –  Aakash Odedra Company, 26 September, Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford Playhouse

Aakash Odedra is an extraordinary dancer and it is not surprising that other choreographers have chosen to create works on his body.  In Rising we saw a solo by Aakash Odedra himself followed by three others by Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant, and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.


Diamond Nights at Brookes Studio Theatre 28th January 2012 – Susie Crow writes:

The seventh edition of Café Reason’s regular “Diamond Nights” was an intimate evening of poetic experiments in theatricality.  Introduced by Ana Barbour and lit by Pete Green, the performance began with Ayala Kingsley’s Trunk.  In near darkness assistants drew aside a black velvet curtain to reveal a trunk which began to creak and twitch, its lid tentatively ajar to reveal slivers of torchlight; then streams of bubbles, followed by two grey clad hands as exploring creatures.  Gradually the trunk opened to reveal Ayala as an enigmatic siren bathing and ultimately paddling off on a sea of fabric with her bath-brush… a succession of winning images worth developing.

Flavia Coube’s solo Child juxtaposed her insightful portrayal of childishness with a haunting song by Joanna Nielson which gave an edge of darkness.   In a baggy dress with oversized checks, and hair held by an unruly pink bow Flavia’s comical persona was communicated through wide eyes and ungainly limbs.  Admirable articulation in the fluid and expressive detail of every part of body and face gave this solo clarity and touching authenticity.

A powerful opening to Ségolène Tarte’s Splice as her shadowy figure found its agitated way to a central hanging rope and pool of light.  This work in progress has expanded since previous performances, building its emotional resonance as Ségolène has developed a vulnerable and shifting relationship with the rope, almost lending it life and a character of its own.  She is finding a personal dance language which integrates her balletic grace and vocabulary with strongly defined expressive movement.

Cellist Bruno Guastalla and Macarena Ortuzar continued their fruitful collaboration with Slate.  Sophisticated software allowed the live and recorded cello to be fragmented and randomly fed back and layered, creating an atmospheric sound world into which Macarena crept down the stairs.  Bent back with a layer of skirt over her head, she felt her way into the space with tremulous fingers.  At times she seemed headless, I lost the sense of which was her body’s back and front.  Once fully revealed the image conveyed by her demure cream frock was subverted with movement of delicacy and anguished grotesquerie, suggesting deep and painful stories.

Dariusz Dziala’s video short Cabbage was a lighthearted and surreal collage of images set to a Polish folk song, dazzling in its witty unpredictable invention and inclusion of dance footage both historic and of Café Reason dancers.  Here was editor as choreographer, making surprising combinations of literal and abstracted images dance.

Finally A Walk, a structured group improvisation by Jeannie Donald McKim, Fabrizia Verrechia, Flavia, Ségolène and Ayala with Bruno on cello and singer Janna Ferrett, triggered by Ivor Cutler’s Life in a Scotch Sitting Room, with playful interaction and exchange of a variety of hats.  Hats off to the Café Reason team this evening for conjuring up such arresting dream worlds…

Cafe Reason are hosting another ‘Diamond Nights‘ at the Brookes Drama Studio, Headington Hill campus this Saturday 28th January.
A variety of experiments and works in progress by members of Cafe Reason and invited guests with dance, theatre, live music, word and video.
They look forward to seeing you there.
Please arrive 7.45 for 8.00 start as the door opens straight on to the stage.
Donation (£3-5) appreciated.
For directions please check the Cafe Reason website: