It is that time of the year again, suddenly Christmas is looming with urgent gift shopping imperatives.  But don’t worry, once again Oxford Dance Writers is here to help with our round up of dance publications reviewed and received this year, from the highly academic and practical to the entertaining memoir and gorgeously illustrated records of companies and dancers; for the dance lovers in your lives, or to add to your own Christmas wish list…  Great thanks once again to all our reviewers! (more…)

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Last night I saw Juju Alishina perform Red Night in Stroud, a mesmerising and compelling evening, with three contrasting pieces showcasing different aspects of Alishina’s style. First a mysterious creature, in textured layers of kimono, looked out at the world from beneath a red veil, tasting the elements with her tongue. This was a wonderful play of power and rebellion, a dark liturgy mixing the religious fervour of a demented nun with the sweeping turbulence of a torrent of water.  Next Alishina transformed into a dynamic martial figure, a Japanese anime heroine, moving with direct impactive choreography to an impressionistic soundtrack of Japanese street sounds.  Viol player Thol Mason brought frisson to the final piece, Desire for infinity, in which Alishina’s red dress and a white sculptural costume conjured images of sea life, the moon and the goddess: the frills of a cuttlefish and the clouds of heaven. Alishina created starkly beautiful images, moving with elegant precision and flow, leaving a feeling of an encounter with some beautiful profound inner truth. (more…)

Café Reason Butoh Theatre is an experimental performance group specialising in butoh, the iconoclastic dance form that originated in postwar Japan.  Established in Oxford in 1997, Café Reason is the only permanent butoh company in the UK outside London and has achieved a fine reputation for its innovative theatre, site-specific and improvised performances.  An abandoned dolls’ house and an unclaimed bag of costumes were the unexpected starting points for the group’s enigmatic new show Dolls’ House which premieres at the Pegasus Theatre on Friday 16th January.  Through the compelling medium of butoh, with live music and film, it explores the dream symbol of “the House” and reveals the inhabitants’ secret lives and eternal dilemmas.  Dark, moving and humorous, the physical performance is underpinned by live music from a trio of multi-instrumentalists, complementing their compositions with digital effects and found sound to create a haunting soundscape.

Dolls’ House is a collaboration between Café Reason, film maker Dariusz Dziala, and musicians Malcolm Atkins, Bruno Guastalla and Pete McPhaill.  This truly original theatre experience has lighting design by Josh Tomalin.  Dancers are Jeannie Donald McKim, Ayala Kingsley, Fabrizia Verrechia, Ana Barbour and Cath Blackfeather: also appearing are Alex Donaghy, Andreia Paixao, Alan Frank and Paula Esposito.

Performances:  Friday 15th, Saturday 16th January 7.30pm

Venue:  Pegasus Theatre, Magdalen Road, Oxford OX4 1RE

Tickets:  £13, £9 concessions, £6 under 18s

Book online here or call 01865 812150

Find out more about Café Reason here and follow them on Facebook here

Twitter:  @CafeReason #dollbutoh

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…)

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…)

Movement on the edge of stillness…sound on the edge of silence…

Sound for Butoh workshop, South Devon, 22 and 23 September 2012.

Space and time seemed to open up on this weekend workshop – perhaps it was the voice and breathwork that stilled my monkey-mind and allowed me to see more deeply into the heart of things. I remember Kate standing on the rocks of Bell Tor on Dartmoor, hair blowing in the wind, her long limbs mirroring the flight of a crow and the sweep of the desolate landscape; Fabrizia rolling her soft body on the jagged rocks by Prawle Point as the wild whipping sea crashed around her. This was the fourth in a series of workshops co-led by musician Adrian Freedman and myself exploring how butoh dancers can create soundscapes within which to move. (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…)