This appeared originally online as part of a series of ongoing reflections on the process of making and performing work for Jennifer Jackson’s mature dancers’ project Dancing the Invisible, which showed work in performance last year at University of Surrey’s Ivy Arts Centre, and at the Michaelis Theatre at Roehampton University.  In a recent blog post Susie wrote:

Ashton used to say that watching The Sleeping Beauty was like having a private lesson in the art of composition in classical ballet (Kavanagh 1996, p.309).  The richness of Petipa’s choreographic text (despite its mutability and variation from one production to another) and the particular poetic and historic symbolism of the work, give it layers of significance and the potential for depth in individual artistic interpretation; to my mind according it the equivalence in status of such canonical musical masterpieces as the Bach cello suites, which invite artists to measure themselves and make a definitive personal statement of their understanding through their performance of the work. (more…)

Another performance of work featuring Oxford artists, this time at Roehampton University…

In May we presented an evening of dance exploring dance and ageing at the Ivy Arts Centre in Guildford. Here’s the project website:
http://www.surrey.ac.uk/dft/research/currentprojects/dancingtheinvisible/

The first piece on the programme, Late Work, gets another outing on 21st November at Roehampton University as part of the event The Mature Performer, organised by Dance Diary at the Michaelis Theatre.

Late Work is for four performers – dancers (us) Susie Crow and Jennifer Jackson with musicians Malcolm Atkins and Andrew Melvin –  and interweaves set and improvised dances.  At the heart of the work are questions about how the individual artist is in dialogue with her/his own body or ‘instrument’ and the body of shared disciplinary knowledge – and how improvisation practices and collaboration might give artistic shape to this dialogue.  It is performance as research – so we need an audience who will enjoy engaging in the ideas and challenges that dance and ageing presents. (more…)

University of Surrey Dance Studies presents

DANCING THE INVISIBLE – LATE WORK

A live dance and music event that interweaves set and improvised dances and engages the audience in discussion about maturity, aging and dance

Tuesday 1st & Wednesday 2nd May at 19:30

Ivy Arts Centre , University of Surrey, Guildford

“of all the oppressions, the one that hits dance the hardest is ageism and it is the
last to be explicitly addressed.”
Jackie Lansley and Fergus Early in The Wise Body (2011)

Does the dancing stop when the body ages?
How does the older dancer draw on sensory memory and the imagination to make dances?
What does “mature ballet” look like?
‘what IS a mature dance?’

Jennifer Jackson (Senior Lecturer and ballet choreographer) leads a group of mature dancers with rich careers in companies such as the Royal Ballet, Rambert and Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet in dance performance that investigates these intriguing questions. (more…)

Drawing attention once again to dance practitioners’ blogging, for insights into local and professional dance practice, reflection on performances, dance development and creative work gradually taking shape in the studio… (more…)

Dancing the Invisible – Late Work

6.30-8.30pm Saturday 14th April 2012

United Reformed Church Hall, Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7HN

Does the dancing stop when the body ages?
How does the older dancer draw on sensory memory and the imagination to make dances?
What does mature ballet look like?
What IS a mature dance?’

Research lead by Jennifer Jackson explores these questions with a team of mature dancers (ages 45-65) whose career experience includes teaching and choreographing as well as dancing as independent artists and with prestigious companies. The project culminates in a live dance and music event interweaving set and improvised dances with discussion at the University of Surrey’s Ivy Arts Centre in May.

Here at URC Jennifer is joined by Oxford artists Susie Crow of Ballet in Small Spaces and musician composer Malcolm Atkins of Oxford Improvisers in extracts of the work in progress.  Please join us for this informal showing – old or young, your thoughts and feedback will be very welcome!

Entry charge of £5
Refreshments available for a donation
Doors open from 6.00pm

For more information about this project please join us online:
http://www.surrey.ac.uk/dft/research/currentprojects/dancingtheinvisible/
http://www.uniofsurreyblogs.org.uk/dancingtheinvisible/

Reading the elegiac epilogue of Jennifer Homans’ history of ballet Apollo’s Angels, I am struck by her sense of doom.  As a ballet practitioner I have found much of the book a gripping and exciting account, and have been stirred by its scope and the provocation of its ideas as to ballet’s place in an often inimical world.   Yet aspects of her thesis trouble me; arising from her interpretation, inevitably condensed and therefore incomplete, of the rise and as she sees it decline of British ballet in the 20th century. This is a period part of which I have lived from the inside; as a child growing up schooled through that peculiarly British institution the Royal Academy of Dancing, inspired by images of Fonteyn and the Royal Ballet, later as a student at the Royal Ballet School, and then as a young dancer in the Royal Ballet companies experiencing the most richly varied ballet repertoire in the world in my own body, now transmuting this learning to communicate through teaching and choreography. (more…)