Oxford’s annual theatre festival Offbeat hosted by Oxford Playhouse and Arts at the Old Fire Station is back after a year’s absence. The brand-new, socially distanced festival brings the best of thought-provoking, entertaining theatre to in-person, online and outdoor audiences from 22nd to 27th June. Here are details of some dance and physical theatre events to watch online from 10.00am Tuesday June 22nd to 9.00pm Sunday June 27th, and a live streamed performance by Drishti Dance on Saturday 26th June at The Old Fire Station.

Kattam Katti transports you to Uttarayan, the world-famous festival in North India where millions of people fly kites together to mark the transition from winter into spring. Tapping into the competitive chaos, creativity and colour of the event, this film brings life to kite flying with lyricism, drama and exquisite technique. Kattam Katti is created and Choreographed by Artistic Director, acclaimed dance artist, Urja Desai Thakore in collaboration with Award-winning Screendance production company, The Motion Dance Collective. Featuring a new generation of Asian British dancers and musicians.

By Pagrav Dance Company

Duration 19 minutes: watch online, on-demand for free: please book online here

Ina Ama is a dance project with the goal of showcasing and facilitating a space for Filipino artists. Jason Mabana writes: As a choreographer with a Filipino heritage, I felt it was necessary to provide a safe space where the dancers, the collaborators and I could exchange and share a few aspects from our culture.

The project started from one of the many articles which mentioned that 20% of the NHS Staff that died during Covid 19 were Filipino. We were all astonished by this shocking number and wanted to help in our own way. The piece is looking at a few subjects such as mental health which is not talked about widely in our culture but also have an approach which is more educating people to some facets of our culture such as Tinikling, The Bayanihan Spirit, family bonding…

We have worked with different collaborators such as The British Filipino Choir (HARAYA) who are a group of singers as well as nurses, Mikayla Teodoro who is a Filipino Set Designer specialized in Puppetry, Troy Cabida, a poet from London who shared his texts for our creation.

By Jason Mabana

Duration 30 minutes: watch online, on-demand, price £5, please book online here

Unfurl – A gallery of dance films without a choreographer. Three dancers from around the globe were invited to film themselves improvising on themes of connection, joy and kindness. Director Joe Lott edited their improvisations to create a portrait of each dancer. Join Bonnie Simons, Tingting Yang, and Karni Ishai, as they gently release their limbs, unwinding like ferns in the breeze. Moments of movement are playfully layered, interwoven and dissolved.

Joe Lott is a Brighton-based choreographer, film-maker and arts and education marketing professional. Follow Joe Lott on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joe_lott_ @Joe_Lott_
Explore Joe’s work: www.joelottdance.co.uk

Tingting Yang is a dance artist and language teacher based in Oxford.

Bonnie Simons is currently completing her Masters in Performance at Chichester University.
Follow Bonnie on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bonniesimonsdance_/ @BonnieSimonsDance_

Karni Ishai is a movement therapist and Jungian analyst.

Watch these films here

Through Our Eyes is a powerful, thought-provoking dance film by Shaquille Brathwaite-Blaggrove, inspired by Black Lives Matter protests. There are many people who still believe racism does not exist. There are many people who believe that systemic oppression does not exist. There are many people who think white privilege does not exist. We invite you to come and see what life is like for us. We want you to see things through our eyes.

Watch the film for free here

Color Me Rainbow

I colour myself a rainbow…
A full spectrum of the shades of yore…
I am embraced in their true brilliance-
From this day to the days of long before! ..

Theo Onken

A collection of short Kathak works from Drishti Dance, each exploring the nature of intricate bond that connects colours with human consciousness and nature. Colours are the outer manifestation of the elemental moods of inner world, joy, sorrow, grief, desire and above all love, and the collage of works is a joyful celebration of these complex emotional connections and their interplay through a combination of movement music and poetry.

Suitable for ages 6 plus. At the Old Fire Station Theatre – and livestreamed. Tickets £10, book online here

Oxford’s Offbeat is a festival of brand-new theatre, comedy, dance, family shows, spoken word and music.  A collaboration between Oxford Playhouse and Arts at the Old Fire Station now in its 3rd edition, it offers a host of opportunities to see something which wouldn’t usually come here.  It’s a blind date with a show you could fall in love with – right on your doorstep.

Take a chance on something exciting. This year’s festival runs from Monday 17th to Saturday 29th June with performances across the Old Fire Station and Burton Taylor Studio.  Here is a list of the dance shows:

Eleven, twelve, thirteen – Friday 21st June 6.00-7.00pm, Old Fire Station.  Ages 12+. Tickets £10, book online here

Eleven, twelve, thirteen explores the importance of numbers in our lives, from the significance of the number 11 in the world around us through to the iconic era of the Sufis during the 1200s and a light-hearted exploration of the troublesome thirTEENS. The production comprises a variety of original pieces that innovatively combine dance, music and the spoken word, and sprout unique collaborations between UK’s finest young British Asian artists across genres. Sona Lisa Dance Company is a Birmingham (England) based dance company set up by Artistic Director Sonia Chandaria Tillu in 2018, building a dance style and vocabulary based on one of the oldest classical Indian dance forms, Kathak, but speaking to contemporary audiences.

“…I also admired Sonia Chandaria Tillu for the way in which she contained and then released energy… the performance only lasted an hour, but I could have watched these dancers all night.” – Maggie Watson (Oxford Dance Writers) review on Sonia as a guest performer in FACET for Drishti Dance at the Offbeat Festival 2018

Find out more about the production and Sona Lisa Dance Company here

Jane – Saturday 22nd June at 12pm, 1.30pm and 3.30pm, Gloucester Green. Each performance lasts 20 minutes.  All ages, free – just come along.

A new dance theatre piece from Moxie Brawl looking inside the head of pre-Raphaelite artists’ muse Jane Morris. Playing with power, femininity with a touch of art history.  With bright blue costumes that turn into puppets, mesmerising choreography and cheeky performers, this show will brighten up your day as we tell Jane’s story.

‘Gloriously unsubtle’ – The Observer

Findo out more about Moxie Brawl here

A Moment – Tuesday 25th, Wednesday 26th, Thursday 27th June 8.30-9.30pm, Old Fire Station.  Suitable for all ages.  Tickets £10, book online here

‘I used to be interested in clothes, clubs, buying records. And men. Now my life…what life?’  Two performers explore what it was to be gay in the 80s when the UK was full of fear and ignorance, in a response to Bren Gosling’s ‘Moment of Grace’. An intimate duet moving through themes of paranoia, intimacy and oppression. The work also gives thanks to those who made it possible to say “HIV is no longer a death sentence.”

Thomas Page Dances is part of Offbeat’s supported artist programme.

★★★★ “In a different league” – The Sunday Express

Find out more about the production and Thomas Page Dances here

Sound Cistem – Wednesday 26th, Thursday 27th, Friday 28th June 7.00-7.50pm, Old Fire Station Studio. Ages 14+.  Tickets £5, book online here

“These are our bodies. What do you see?”  Two transgender performers say f**k you to the binary, and invite you to their radically queer dance party!  Set in nightclubs, Sound Cistem is an exuberant dance show about the cisgender gaze on the transgender body. Through riotous, glittering disco, shame is rejected and a self-love manifesto made. Unafraid to punch hard, Sound Cistem asks you to see the beauty in these bodies: and your own too.  This is a work in progress.

Plaster Cast Theatre is part of Offbeat’s supported artist programme.

Praise for their previous work:  ★★★★ “Unflinching” – The Scotsman
★★★★ “Gripping” – The List  ★★★★ “Extremely powerful” – North West End
★★★★★ Spectacular” – The Mancunion

Find out more about the production and Plaster Cast Theatre here

A welcome performance at the Pegasus by Drishti Dance led by exquisite Kathak dancer Anuradha Chaturvedi, showing recently developed works.  Chaturang, or the four colours, is an exploration of the vast breadth and versatility of the traditional Indian form Kathak through a dynamic quartet of dance works, each varied in characteristics, yet uniquely beautiful.  This production is an experiment in adapting the dance form not only to explore varied narrative styles, but also to emphasize its vast breadth and versatility.
Dramatic in essence,  Mohini dips into the ancient Puranic story to present a ballad.  Laya Anulaya (la-ei Anu-la-ei), an in-depth technical study, is an inward facing narrative, a dialogue between the percussionist and dancer.  Panchatva, explores the connections between the elements and human senses, re-imagining the Nritta (pure dance) aspect of Kathak in tandem with Digital Media.  Antaraal is a contemporary Kathak work bringing together movement, music and poetic text by Mohan Rana, exploring the journey through time and the spaces between. (First seen at Pegasus in Moving With the Times in February 2016).

Concept and Choreography – Anuradha Chaturvedi
Dancers – Aiyana Tandon, Anuradha Chaturvedi, Anju Rajukumar, Meena Anand, Sonali Sibal Alim, Sarika Shah and Shyam Patel
Poem (Antaraal) – Mohan Rana
Tabla – Amritpal Singh
Santoor – Kaviraj Singh
Music – Malcolm Atkins, Gulshan Bharati
Rhythm Compositions (Laya Anulaya) – Late Arjun Mishra, Vikas Mishra and Anuradha Chaturvedi
Costumes – Shruti Mohan
Images – Anand Muthuswamy

Date:  Saturday 11th June 2016, 7.30pm

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

Tickets: £13, £9 concessions, £6 under 18s, (£1 off for Dancin’ Oxford Pass holders)

Book online here, or call the Box Office on 01865 812150

Find out more about Drishti Dance here

Glide through the airlock and float free with Joe Lott Dance…

Promising company, Joe Lott Dance, take to the road this autumn for their first tour.  Catch their original brand of energising and innovative dance at Pegasus.  Joe Lott Dance take on micro-gravity and mythology in a dynamic billing at Pegasus Theatre on Friday 30 October: including new work EVA and a preview of Detox by renowned guest choreographer Urja Desai Thakore of Pagrav Dance (BBC, National Theatre, South Bank).  The performances will be followed by a Q&A opportunity. This promises to be a delightful, thought-provoking evening of dance from two innovative choreographers. (more…)

Getting a ticket to a dance programme arouses comfortable expectations of pleasure – of colour, patterning and conformity. In Oxford’s Burton Taylor studio last week, Donald Hutera’s GOlive programme was satisfyingly full of all of these – but it was also never predictable, oddly fragmented and often deeply unsettling. And in my head the after-images are of faces as much as of body shapes – a heat of emotional impact – a sense of hope – a touch of catharsis.

The very ordering of the programme forced strange juxtapositions. It began with what Shane Shambhu described as his “lecture-demonstration” – a cogent dance drama through which his personal narrative wove a coherent thread. Twenty-seven years of bharatanatyam dance gave his work an assured technical underpinning. But it was its immediacy and variety that made it so accessible to academic, pensioner and child in the fifty-strong studio audience. For this was a narrative that flowed by Nritta – by taps and clicks and thumps – through sounds vocal and guttural – as well as by the mime and dance of Natya, the shifting registers of formal delivery, of conversational English, of interactive name games and the musicality of Shane’s native Kerala tongue. Never before have I been more aware of dance as one member of so intimately interconnected a family of languages. (more…)

Drishti Dance led by Anuradha Chaturvedi invites you to Aangika, its annual show case of Kathak choreographic works. The evening features Panchtatva – The five elements, an exquisite interpretation of the five elements and their association to our senses through a dynamic interaction of Kathak and digital media. The evening also features other contemporary and rare traditional Kathak compositions drawn from ancient Indian philosophy, mythology, folklore and mediaeval Indo-Persian literature.  Sweeping abstract body movement, complex rhythm patterns executed through fast paced foot stamps timed to precise mathematical cycles, and exquisite subtle emotive expressions, integrate seamlessly in a stunning display of the technical nuances of this classic dance form. (more…)

A rich and thought provoking evening, Drishti Dance’s Aangika at the Old Fire Station on 30th November included the first public performance of Presence, in which  Kathak exponent Anuradha Chaturvedi and ballet dancer Ségolène Tarte came together in a partially improvised dialogue between venerable classical dance traditions.  Marcella Vigneri gives her impressions:

When I was first asked to write a review for this piece of dance work, I thought carefully about what to expect from such an original and in some regards daring choreographic experiment: two very different classical dance styles, incredibly demanding in practice and interpretation, each requiring very specific emphasis on both footwork tempi and the many possible developments of body extensions and lines. (more…)

Drishti Dance led by Kathak dancer Anuradha Chaturvedi returns to the Old Fire Station with Aangika, a rich programme combining traditional Kathak dances and exciting new choreographic works, featuring a dynamic interaction of Kathak and Ballet.  New choreographic works on show include Panchtatva – the Five Elements which explores the concept of the elements through a dynamic interaction of Kathak and digital media.  In an intriguing new work performed by Anuradha Chaturvedi and ballet exponent Ségolène Tarte, the classical dance forms of Kathak and Ballet come together in an intricate cross cultural dialogue.  Ségolène Tarte will also be presenting her work Triple Entendre, premiered to critical acclaim at Moving with the Times 2013. (more…)

In my opinion the most remarkable of this year’s Dancin’ Oxford festival events, out of those I saw, was Decreasing Infinity, an evening of classical Indian dance and contemporary work at the Pegasus Theatre. First came two pieces for a solo male dancer in the Bharatanatyam dance form of the Tamil Nadu region in South India. It is very energetic and virile, with a lot of stamping, turning, and flexing of the hands. The stamps especially show great power, as if the force of the movement goes right into the ground below the dancer. Legs are held bent at the knee for long periods. The strength held in the thighs seems quite superhuman. In the jumps the dancer’s torso remains at the same height, moving only horizontally. He seems held up by the energy he has taken from the ground, while the legs move from stamp to stamp independently. (more…)

Rising –  Aakash Odedra Company, 26 September, Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford Playhouse

Aakash Odedra is an extraordinary dancer and it is not surprising that other choreographers have chosen to create works on his body.  In Rising we saw a solo by Aakash Odedra himself followed by three others by Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant, and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

(more…)