This year, star performer and founder of the Sona Lisa Dance Company, Sonia Chandaria Tillu, appeared in Oxford as a solo dancer, having established her own choreography and proving that alone on a stage she is able to hold her audience to a spell-binding performance of Kathak dance.  She now bills herself as “an independent artist working in dance, choreography and education.” Her formal training in the classical dance form of Kathak expands to show the influence of other dramatic forms including ballet, yoga, kalaripayattu and ballroom dancing.  Sonia notes that she particularly enjoys performing work which evokes an emotional response in her audiences. (more…)

A powerful new dance show based on issues of migration, culture and identity premieres in Oxford, ahead of its international tour. Sona Lisa Dance Company presents the first outing of its new triple bill solo dance show – UNTAGGED – at the Old Fire Station.  The show comprises three distinct dance pieces themed around issues of identity and discarding labels attached by society. These powerful narratives are told through the medium of Indian classical dance form Kathak and contemporary dance with flamenco influences by award-winning dancer and University of Oxford alumni Sonia Chandaria Tillu.

Commissioned by Midlands-based arts organisation Sampad (and with grant funding from Arts Council England and the British Council), Breaking Ground depicts the journey of Sonia’s family migratory story traversing India, Kenya and finally the UK. More broadly, the piece explores how we can resolve some of the emotional conflicts that arise from multicultural identity by viewing them as heritage rather than cultural baggage.  The performance has been choreographed by UK’s renowned Kathak exponent Urja Thakore, with music by the hugely popular Shammi Pithia and poetry by Ugandan poet Wobusobozi Amooti Kangere.

Āgraha is inspired by the extraordinary life of Indian freedom fighter Aruna Asaf Ali and the many contradictions that defined this compassionate radical. Through stunning contemporary dance, with influences from Kathak and flamenco, Āgraha explores deeply ingrained notions of binary identity, challenging us to break out of the boxes we are cooped into by society and ourselves.
Commissioned by Dance Hub Birmingham, Āgraha has been choreographed by renowned contemporary dancer Jose Agudo and the bespoke music score has been created by Bernhard Schimpelsberger.

A pure classical Kathak dance production, Devi (Goddess) uses the expressional and rhythmical qualities of the dance form to explore ideas of spiritual identity, and what it means to be spiritual. The piece has been choreographed by UK’s foremost Kathak dancer and choreographer Sujata Banerjee MBE.

Performance:  Thursday 27th February 7.30pm

Venue:  The Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2AQ

Tickets:  £10-£14, book online here or buy at the Box Office

Sonia Chandaria Tillu is an award-winning Kathak dancer and Artistic Director of the Sona Lisa Dance Company. Disciple of UK’s leading Kathak expert Sujata Banerjee MBE, Sonia’s dance imbibes the rhythmical and musical richness of Kathak, while also extending the fabric of classical movements. Sonia’s work is influenced by her exposure to dramatic arts, ballet, yoga, kalaripayattu and ballroom dancing. Sonia has performed extensively within the UK at prestigious venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and Sadler’s Wells as well as internationally, including in the USA, Kenya, Spain and India.

Sonia says “The purpose of Sona Lisa Dance Company is to develop new audiences that span generations, ethnicities and cultures and this is exactly what ‘Untagged’ does. It takes an age-old art form and applies it to reflect the contemporary world, in this instance by interrogating notions of binary identity. I am really excited to be premiering the show at the OFS, ahead of its tour in Kenya and across the UK. Being OU alumni, I just love Oxford! I received a very warm response from the audiences here when I premiered a previous production here last June as part of Oxford’s Offbeat festival.”

Find out more about Sona Lisa Dance Company here

 

 

 

First Look is a preview of new dance works commissioned by Dancin’ Oxford and Pegasus for Moving With The Times, the dance showcase an established part of the annual Dancin’ Oxford Festival.  An exciting chance to see this year’s companies present three incredible works in progress, followed by Q&A with the artists.

Burning House is a high physical contemporary dance piece that explores human mortality from Amy Foskett Dance. “Our bodies and our planet. Ignorance is bliss and we are blissfully ignoring it. Disregarding death and highlighting dangerous immortality…”

In a time of tick boxes, labels and separation Thomas Page Dances Commonality looks at the parts of life that everyone has in common. Through the exploration of shared experiences and feelings this performances paints the possibilities of coming together as one community. Featuring contemporary dance, a unique score, live photography and lots of tape!

Drishti Dance, is a well established performing arts organization producing high quality classical Indian dance works. Choreographed by Anuradha Chaturvedi, the Artistic Director, the work will be a contemporary expression of Kathak dance tradition, in all its exquisite grace and composure, creating a dynamic fusion of movement and rhythm set to the music of Shammi Pithia.

Performance:  Friday 17th January, 7.30pm

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

Tickets:  Moving With The Times – First Look is a Pay What You Can night.  Book your place(s) online or through the box office in advance and pay on the night – if you enjoy the evening and can pay more than a standard ticket price – please do, if you can’t – pay what you can.  Pegasus can’t take payments online in advance so if you wish to pay any amount by card in advance please call the box office 01865 812 150 and they will process your payment. Otherwise cash or card payments can be made on the night.

The final triple bill Moving With The Times will be at Pegasus 28th & 29th February 2020

There are no age restrictions for this piece and younger audiences are very welcome, but it is likely to be enjoyed most by those aged 11+

As part of the Oxford Offbeat Festival, the Sona Lisa Dance Company performed Eleven, twelve, thirteen at The Old Fire Station, a series of dances and spoken reflections based around the traditional rhythms of Indian Kathak. It was a fascinating program, impressive in its professional standard and its often breath-taking beauty; a show of multiple collaborations, devised and woven together by Artistic Director Sonia Chandaria Tillu.

Kathak is the Hindustani name for one of the eight major forms of Indian classical dance. The origin of Kathak is traditionally attributed to the traveling bards of ancient northern India known as Kathakars or storytellers.  It is important to the art of these North Indian dances that they communicate an entire story through non-verbal actions and bodily movements: head turnings, eye glancings, finger shapings, distinctive torso positions from squats to turns and leaps. The intricacies of the stories must be honoured, as well, by the costume colours, the breathing, the hair style and its ornaments of flowers and/or jewels. All the visible details of deportment and dress signify elements of the dramatic story. (more…)

A performance that is entirely, purely, dance is a rare treat in Oxford, but it is what Anuradha Chaturvedi’s company Drishti Dance gave us at the Old Fire Station on Friday in Facet, as part of the Offbeat Festival.  Chaturvedi brought together professional and student dancers in a vivid and innovative double bill of two interlinked works that were quite simply about dance.

Kathak is an ancient, sophisticated and complex Indian classical dance form, redolent of a history that goes back beyond the Moghul kings of North India, with a vocabulary of detailed gestures, stamping and rhythmic spins that thrilled and enthralled the audience on Friday night; and what an audience it was!  The excitement in the auditorium beforehand was palpable, as we heard the sound of the dancers’ ankle bells as they gathered in the wings.  A little boy behind me exclaimed ‘they are like gods!’ – and so they were, in their gorgeous green, blue, orange, black and gold silks, bathed in a mist of coloured light. (more…)

Becoming an established fixture in Oxford’s arts calendar this year’s Offbeat Festival is the third, now bigger and better with over 60 shows across five spaces in the centre of Oxford from the 22nd to the 30th June.  The Festival aims to offer some of the best up-and-coming contemporary performing arts including  theatre, comedy, dance, music, spoken word and family entertainment.  Why not take a risk, dive in and encounter the fantastic creativity of artists from across the country in a stunningly varied programe of work, all new to Oxford.

Dance is represented by three short performances at the Old Fire Station as follows:

Wednesday 27th June 6.15pm:  Thomas Page Dances in Normative

“Categorised. Converted. Conformed.”  This intense work delves into the recent traumatic events of Chechnya, Russia and challenges the way societies create conformity.  Using contemporary dance infused with the virtuosic stylings of Vogue and Contortion this mesmerising performance creates a powerful reflection on the reality of today’s society. It will make you question “Is being normal really worth it?”

Tickets: £10 available on the door, or online here

Running time:  50 minutes

Thursday 28th June 6.15pm:  Forged Line Dance in Lina

A powerful and playful contemporary dance duet, inspired by the lives of brother and sister astronomers William and Caroline Herschel.  Both talented musicians and celebrated scientists, they studied the universe and mapped the stars from their back garden in 18th Century Bath. Lina delves into their complex relationship, where family ties are tested by individual ambition. Dancers swoop and soar like comets, taking us on an extraordinary journey of stars, music and family.

“This was the performance of two exceptionally talented dancers, delivering a choreographic narrative of tangible beauty and humanity…truly enchanting”– Bathcast

Tickets:  £10 available on the door or online here

Running time:  50 minutes

Friday 29th June 7.00pm:  Drishti Dance in Facet

Facet is a Kathak double bill featuring two interlinked works, exploring the evolving facets of the classical Indian form; a reflection on its ever changing aesthetics as it collides with modern values.  Aur-Ek Antaraal contemplates the poetical abstraction of contemporary Hindi poem ‘Aur Ek Antaraal’ penned by India based Dr Rashmi Chaturvedi.  Re-Textured is a study of rhythm, textures and structures. It creates space for reformulating movement vocabulary through absorbing  contemporary human experiences.

Tickets:  £10 available on the door or online here

Running time:  1 hour

Find out more about the Offbeat Festival and check out the complete programme here

Dancin’ Oxford, 1 – 11 March 2013, has 6 fabulous free street dance events in addition to an exciting array of performances in the city’s venues. Participants are professional and amateur, choreographers and dancers mostly from Oxfordshire though with some notable exceptions. (more…)