‘I’m always accused of dealing only with sex and violence but what I really deal with is life and death.’  Thus quoted Monica Mason, opening the St Hilda’s College/DANSOX Conference Kenneth MacMillan: Making Dance Beyond the Boundaries held on Saturday 16th March 2019.

Dame Monica, former Principal Dancer and Director of the Royal Ballet Company, was just one of many sharing their memories of MacMillan and his creative approach at this smörgåsbord of delights blending academic research, choreography and performance. On a wet and windy day, in political and climatic times that can sometimes feel reminiscent of the dark events triggered at Mayerling, we were treated to talks by MacMillan’s widow Deborah on how MacMillan worked with designers, Guest Lecturer Natalie Wheen on his innovative use of music, choreologists on how Benesh notation helps to preserve his choreography, and academic specialists on his historical imagination. The conference concluded with excerpts from a reconstruction of Playground by Yorke Dance. (more…)

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The DANSOX Conference Kenneth MacMillan: Making Dance Beyond the Boundaries was an opportunity to reflect on and discover more about one of the twentieth century’s greatest choreographers. It was attended by distinguished practitioners and scholars in dance, and generously open to the wider University and general public.

Dame Monica Mason and Deborah, Lady MacMillan gave insights into what it was like to work with Kenneth MacMillan, his interest in contemporaneous events in society and the arts, his willingness to engage with designers new to the theatre, and his relationship with and support from Ninette de Valois. (more…)

Dance Scholarship Oxford (DANSOX) presents a one-day conference on the life and work of the great twentieth-century choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan (1929-1992). MacMillan stands among the great innovators of his time in theatre, film, art, music, and dance. This not-to-be-missed conference will discuss his work, the challenges of preserving the record, and explore little known early work, his literary and musical choices, design, and choreographic method. Guest speakers include: the artist and widow of Sir Kenneth, Lady MacMillan; the former Principal and Director of the Royal Ballet, Dame Monica Mason; the music expert, Natalie Wheen; and choreologist, Anna Trevien. Dancers, artists, and filmmakers who worked with Kenneth will join the conversation. A performance/lecture of the reconstruction of Playground with Yorke Dance will conclude the conference.

Date:  Saturday 16th March 10.00am-6.00pm

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

Tickets: Free and open to all, please book tickets here at Eventbrite

 

Upcoming; a fascinating seminar being hosted by Dance Scholarship Oxford (DANSOX) and the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama (APGRD) at Oxford University’s Ioannou Centre.  Dr. Nicole Haitzinger of Salzburg University will be talking about the construction and reception of the tragic in Jean-Georges Noverre‘s dance drama Agamemnon Vengé; a chance to gain insight into the ideas and practice of ballet’s great and influential 18th century thinker.

Date:  Thursday 8th November, 5.00pm

Venue:  Outreach Room, The Ioannou Centre, 66 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LU

Free, all welcome, no booking required.

Motion & Meaning presented by DANSOX and the Liveness, Hybridity & Noise Series has been an exciting multi-disciplinary collaboration between dancers, choreographers, composers, instrumentalists and audio-visual artists facilitated by a week-long residency at St Hilda’s College. The project culminated last Friday in a ‘showing’ of the work in progress, alongside an exhibition by artist Simon Klein and sculptor Guillaume Klein. Open rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday last week revealed some of the opportunities and challenges intrinsic to truly collaborative work: the importance of grace and generosity in allowing other artists in different media sufficient time and space; the need for mutual respect, and the courteous adjustments to be made to accommodate different etiquettes and conventions. (more…)

DANSOX and the Liveness, Hybridity & Noise Series join forces for this multi-disciplinary presentation of three new works that stretch the synthetic possibilities of music and dance. Over a four-day residency at St Hilda’s College, one of Holland’s leading contemporary music groups, Ensemble Klang, will be working with three composers from Oxford and a team of leading contemporary dancers and choreographers (Malgorzata Dzierzon, Estela Merlos, Patricia Okenwa, Liam Riddick and Piedad Albarracin Seiquer). ‘Open’ rehearsals will take place each afternoon on 4-5 July (15:00–17:00), as well a fully-staged performance at 19:30 on Friday 6 July (tickets required for all sessions and spaces limited so booking early advised).

CUE by Anna Appleby (Rambert Music Fellow and St Hilda’s alumna) is a quirky and comical piece that plays with the audience’s perceptions of the boundaries between dance and music. Grim’s Ditch by composer Joel Baldwin (St Hilda’s) explores melancholia, politics, artistic expression and meaning through the layering of multimedia, sound and physical motion.  Joel’s work features the talented Austrian vocalist Michaela Riener, whose recent solo engagements include works by Steve Reich, Michael Gordon (with dance company EmioGreco|PC), Louis Andriessen (La Passione, TAO) and Hanns Eisler (with the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble).  Her soloistic capabilities, as well as her experience with Ensemble Klang and numerous early music ensembles, make her the ideal candidate for this central role of Grim’s Ditch.  Joseph Currie (Wadham) investigates different kinds of time in movement, motivated by the structural difference of heartbeats and breaths, alongside ideas about gendered breath and the expressive apparatus behind screaming.  A new instrumental piece for the ensemble, written by former Oxford composer, Sophie Sparkes, will also be premiered at the main performance on Friday evening.

Anna Appleby – CUE
Joel Baldwin – Grim’s Ditch (feat. Michaela Riener – mezzo soprano)
Joseph Currie – How many eyes do we have then, being two…
Sophie Sparkes – new work

Both open rehearsals (3-5pm on 4th and 5th July) and the performance at 7:30pm on 6th July will be livestreamed.

Date(s):  Friday, 6 July 7:30pm
Venue:  Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Oxford OX4 1DY
Tickets:  £25 (+£5 per open rehearsal session); £15 students (free entry to open rehearsals) Available online here
St. Hilda’s Alumnae Ticket Offer:  There is a 20% discount offer available for the alumnae of St. Hilda’s College to mark the 125th Anniversary of St. Hilda’s College. Please email the Development Office for more information.

You can find more information about this event here

“Spring is coming…” I wrote in posting an advance round-up of performance and other events for this year’s edition of Dancin’ Oxford Festival 1st – 11th March 2018. It would perhaps have been more appropriate to post “Winter is coming…” as the arrival of the “Beast from the East” took some casualties in the first weekend of programming. Heavy snowfall and consequent travel disruption led to the postponement to a later date (to be announced) of the one day Dance and Academia conference, with several guest speakers unable to get there. That same day (Saturday 3rd March) Company Chameleon’s performance at Pegasus Theatre was also cancelled.

Other companies who had arrived in Oxford a day or two earlier before the snow were able to continue with scheduled performances in true “the show must go on” style, and with encouragingly healthy audiences. At the end of Theatre Ad Infinitum’s Friday evening performance of Odyssey at The North Wall, performer George Mann gave a heartfelt thanks to those that had made it. I found this lively retelling of Homer’s great story of journey and homecoming well worth crunching through silent snowy streets for. (more…)