If his more recent works are Hollywood blockbusters, Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures is more like quaint, arthouse cinema (a metaphor that seems very apt regarding Bourne’s filmic inspirations). The whole evening has a gentle feel, more subdued and less emotionally diverse than Bourne’s full length productions. This is presumably attributed to the fact that all three works deal more with concepts and ideas opposed to narrative storylines (which more naturally lend themselves to an emotional journey), however this style of choreography brings its own charm, creating a light-hearted and relaxed atmosphere. (more…)

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The Times dance critic Donald Hutera’s 4-day festival of contemporary dance concludes with an eclectic array of diverse and dynamic performances. The final evening showcases some of the highlights from previous nights of the four-day festival, yet also introduces new works for the audience to experience for the first time in this central Oxford venue.

The show on the mainstage of the Old Fire Station is preluded by informal installation Remember to Remember choreographed by Mara Vivas. As the audience enter the intimate space, they are encouraged by a written sign to “touch, watch, listen, write.” These instructions are somewhat ambiguous, yet the dancers’ (Vivas herself accompanied by My Johansson) perform with an openness that invites spectators to participate. (more…)

“The psychology of oppression is thus self-inflicted in a constant struggle where man hypocritically creates standards of life that they themselves perpetually contradict” – Duane Campbell

C-A-G-E-D is the recent, ambitious choreographic debut from aspiring choreographer Thomas Page. Originally from Oxford – having taken class with Lunas Dance Project – Page is now a contemporary dance student at the renowned Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.  However, despite relocating, Page stays committed to the Oxford dance scene by commuting back to his hometown at the weekend to teach dance at Authentic Performance Academy.

Thomas is an individual with guts and motivation, having approached the conservatoire’s Student Union at the beginning of his first year, asking for support in producing a full length dance work to explore his interest in the psychology of oppression. It was on 16th and 17th June that this ambition manifested itself in reality, and Page presented his work in the Laban Studio Theatre, costumed and lit. It was performed by a quintet of diverse and mesmerising dancers – all students of Trinity Laban aside from Iona McGuire, a prospective student of London Contemporary Dance School. (more…)

Ovid’s Metamorphoses – an epic poem exploring myths of transformation, love and loss – is the inspiration for a new work created by young Swiss dance company Le Marchepied. Their latest work – forming part of their tour of the UK – is the result of their collaboration with Ancient Dance in Modern Dancers (ADMD).  ADMD is a TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) funded project that seeks to investigate the Roman dance form tragoedia saltata (Roman pantomime) and to “develop ways of articulating the knowledge derived from kinaesthetic engagement with ancient material.”

The performance itself was preceded by a free workshop in the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford.  The workshop was open to anyone who wanted to learn more about the form of trageodia saltata and how it may be used in a contemporary setting to generate movement material or interpret ancient texts.  Helen Slaney (Classics Fellow at St. Hilda’s College) of ADMD kicked off proceedings with an intriguing, informative introduction to the form of Roman pantomime.  Referencing texts by ancient satirist Lucian, Slaney detailed the necessity of narrative precision in the dance form and also stated particular movements – such as freezing, falling or reaching – that would have been used by performers to physically recount the mythological tales. (more…)

Swing is a comedy about dancing”. Fishamble’s international hit refreshingly explores the nature of dance comically through the eyes of a different art form, reminding the dancers and dance enthusiasts among us of the true values of movement. Not a perfectly aligned arabesque, but communication, escapism and fun.

The play begins suddenly and humorously, as the double act (Arthur Riordan and Gene Rooney) enter through the audience, asking spectators “is this Swing?” subsequently unloading their bike helmets and bags onto the stage from their supposed commutes. This opening sets the tone for whole production, as throughout the performance the actors involve and directly address the audience. In their roles as the larger than life hosts of a Swing Dance society, they welcome the audience with black humour – “we’re all swingers here!” – and perform demonstrations of humorous dance steps, including monkey walks and “fish bums.” This use of direct address is engaging and transforms audience members from their status as theatre-goers in the Oxford Playhouse, to attendees of a swing dance class in an unspecified area of the Republic of Ireland. (more…)

“I want everybody to think alike… It’s happening here all by itself without being under a strict government; so if it’s working without trying, why can’t it work without being Communist? Everybody looks alike and acts alike, and we’re getting more and more that way. I think everybody should be a machine.” – Andy Warhol

On Thursday 7th April, The Ashmolean Museum opened its doors after hours for “Warhol Late” – a celebration of the recent Andy Warhol: Works from the Hall Collection exhibition. The evening event transported visitors back to 1960s New York by transforming the Ashmolean’s café into an underground “Factory Party”. The party was an eclectic array of happenings and performances inspired by Warhol; DJs, a “Warhol yourself” station kitted out with a variety of wigs, a silent disco, participatory screen tests… and contemporary dance. (more…)