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…)

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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…)

Last Thursday, on a snowy night, St Hilda’s College Oxford warmly welcomed the local dance community to learn more about Fred Astaire, arguably the greatest dancer of the twentieth century. New York Times critic Alastair Macaulay gave an entertaining, witty and enlightening talk, as he showed us a series of filmed dance excerpts, while placing Astaire’s work in its cultural and choreographic context. (more…)

Aptly following its recent showing of the documentary film New Wave Ballet, another DANSOX event exploring legendary dance performances on film.  DANSOX welcomes as distinguished guest lecturer Alastair Macaulay, Chief Dance Critic of the New York Times, who will discuss the legendary Fred Astaire’s life and work with illustration and film footage. Not to be missed!

Date:  Thursday 1st March 2018 5.30pm

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

Free and open to all, followed by drinks reception
Reserve a seat via: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dansox-lecture-alastair-macaulay-on-fred-astaire-tickets-41211053370

There was much to celebrate tonight at St Hilda’s, when five years of fascinating DANSOX events programmed by Professor Susan Jones coincided with the 125th anniversary of the college that so generously hosts these events. It was a wonderfully inclusive evening that centred round a screening of Lynne Wake’s New Wave Ballet, a documentary film about the early ballets of Kenneth MacMillan, before a packed audience that included members of the college and wider University, participants in the local dance community, practitioners and dance scholars from further afield, Dame Monica Mason, and Deborah, Lady MacMillan.

Wake’s introductory talk vividly described how eager she had been to see Edmée Wood’s films of Royal Ballet productions, her initial disappointment at the poor quality examples that she found, her excitement at discovering the original recordings, and the work involved in their restoration for the Royal Opera House. Her documentary is an outstanding example of the use of archival footage to bring back to life the essence of dances that might otherwise be lost, by showing film alongside interviews with the actual dancers, who know the works from the inside.

Next, Dame Monica spoke about her experiences working with MacMillan, as a dancer and as his répétiteur, noting the wide range of his artistic interests, his willingness to take risks and work with new collaborators, and his ability to reprove but then move on. Almost five years to the day since she spoke at the first DANSOX event celebrating the centenary of The Rite of Spring, she described what it was like to be the Chosen Maiden, dancing between the criss-crossing legs of the corps de ballet as they lay face down on the stage, or being passed from hand-to hand high overhead (an image reminiscent to me of Greek vase paintings of the sacrifice of Iphigenia). I remember seeing her in the role in 1982, and still carry pictures of her performance in my head.

At the reception following the brief question and answer session, St Hilda’s Vice Principal Dr Georgina Paul thanked DANSOX patron Sheila Forbes (the former Principal of St Hilda’s) and proposed a toast to DANSOX’ other patron, Dame Monica, to mark the fact that she is now an Honorary Fellow of the College.

Maggie Watson

19 February 2018

Dance Scholarship Oxford‘s first event of 2018 is a real treat; a film night featuring a screening of New Wave Ballet, Lynne Wake‘s documentary film about the early work of twentieth-century choreographer Kenneth MacMillan, newly reversioned for last autumn’s anniversary festival Kenneth MacMillan: A National Celebration.  The film includes historic and lovingly restored footage of some of the ballets as well as interviews with original interpreters.  The showing will be followed by a talk by Lynne Wake on the making of the film, and Dame Monica Mason will also talk about the experience of working with Kenneth MacMillan.  Not to be missed!

Date:  Monday 19th February 5.30pm

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

Free and open to all followed by drinks reception, but booking advised

Book here:  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dansox-presents-film-night- new-wave-ballet-tickets-41209915968

Further information about DANSOX and its programme of events can be found here