Late on Monday 6th November 2017 Ana Barbour, much loved, inspirational and guiding presence in the Oxford dance scene, passed away having battled with cancer.  Her touching funeral at the home she loved on Sunday 12th November was attended by numerous family, friends, and colleagues, and was a celebration of her life and achievements in speeches, songs and dance.  I felt honoured to speak on that occasion about Ana’s work as a dance artist in Oxford, and I am posting here my speech to pay tribute to her.  You can also find links below to her own blog Anadances, Cafe Reason of whom she was an integral part, and the DEC Project; and her own occasional writings for this blog.  Oxford Dance Writers would really welcome other voices in this endeavour of remembrance, so please use the comments facility below to add to this partial picture your particular memories of Ana.  Thank you!

Ana Barbour

When I mounted the Solos Project for Oxford dance artists in 2008 Ana was one of six dancers who showed solos in the Burton Taylor’s intimate studio space. Her Butoh inspired piece Baggage accompanied by the atmospheric music of her long term friend and collaborator Malcolm Atkins was a remarkable episode in which having entered bowed down by a bundle on her back she burrowed into the baggage itself, morphing into surreal shapes and images of confined struggle that were humorous, poignant and dreamlike. It was my first experience of Ana as creative imagination and compelling performer. (more…)

Advertisements

Café Reason returns this weekend with the 13th in their series of informal platform performances Diamond Nights.  At this Diamond Night, as the company will be trying out material for their upcoming new production The Heart’s Desire – created in collaboration with voice artist Anne L. Ryan – some of the evening will take the form of an open rehearsal. It will be a chance to see part of this work-in-progress and for audience to give some feedback to help the group develop the piece before its full performance at The Old Fire Station on June 13 and 14.  The occasion is also still open for artists who may have work they would like to present and share. (more…)

Saturday June 1st was the eleventh in Cafe Reason’s series of Diamond Nights.  Conceived as a platform to share and show experiments and new work it continues to offer the chance to see interesting and experimental pieces in a small theatrical environment.

The evening began with Fabrizia Verrechia performing three pieces of Indian Classical Bharatanatyam dance.  Besides the beautiful, expressive dancing and lovely costume, Fabrizia introduced the audience to a little background information about this traditional form and also some of the meanings of the gestures.  This was interesting in itself and reminded me of the difference there can be in fully appreciating a classical dance form such as ballet and the means used to tell a story compared to a contemporary work.  (more…)

Diamond Night 24th November 2012 – Writing for the first time for Oxford Dance Writers, Lizzy Spight gives us a different perspective on a stimulating evening…

Another very enjoyable evening full of little gems and diamonds being worked on. The space is intimate enough for the audience and the performers to get close to each other and for sensing the exchange between both. It creates an atmosphere of openness and being involved with the work in progress of each artist. (more…)

Cafe Reason presents Diamond Night 10

The tenth in Cafe Reason’s series of bi-monthly arts evenings, bringing ‘uncut performance gems’ by members of the group and guests into the spotlight.  Conceived by Jeannie Donald-McKim, Diamond Nights – Explorations in performance is an informal platform for sharing new performance ideas, choreographies, experiments and collaborations. (more…)

Saturday 26th May 8.00pm, Drama Studio, Oxford Brookes, Headington Hill Campus

Diamond Nights is a series of bi-monthly arts evenings, hosted by Cafe Reason, which brings uncut performance gems to a wider audience.  Conceived by Jeannie Donald-McKim, this informal platform is for sharing new performance ideas, choreographies, experiments and collaborations… (more…)

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…