Motion & Meaning presented by DANSOX and the Liveness, Hybridity & Noise Series has been an exciting multi-disciplinary collaboration between dancers, choreographers, composers, instrumentalists and audio-visual artists facilitated by a week-long residency at St Hilda’s College. The project culminated last Friday in a ‘showing’ of the work in progress, alongside an exhibition by artist Simon Klein and sculptor Guillaume Klein. Open rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday last week revealed some of the opportunities and challenges intrinsic to truly collaborative work: the importance of grace and generosity in allowing other artists in different media sufficient time and space; the need for mutual respect, and the courteous adjustments to be made to accommodate different etiquettes and conventions. (more…)

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DANSOX and the Liveness, Hybridity & Noise Series join forces for this multi-disciplinary presentation of three new works that stretch the synthetic possibilities of music and dance. Over a four-day residency at St Hilda’s College, one of Holland’s leading contemporary music groups, Ensemble Klang, will be working with three composers from Oxford and a team of leading contemporary dancers and choreographers (Malgorzata Dzierzon, Estela Merlos, Patricia Okenwa, Liam Riddick and Piedad Albarracin Seiquer). ‘Open’ rehearsals will take place each afternoon on 4-5 July (15:00–17:00), as well a fully-staged performance at 19:30 on Friday 6 July (tickets required for all sessions and spaces limited so booking early advised).

CUE by Anna Appleby (Rambert Music Fellow and St Hilda’s alumna) is a quirky and comical piece that plays with the audience’s perceptions of the boundaries between dance and music. Grim’s Ditch by composer Joel Baldwin (St Hilda’s) explores melancholia, politics, artistic expression and meaning through the layering of multimedia, sound and physical motion.  Joel’s work features the talented Austrian vocalist Michaela Riener, whose recent solo engagements include works by Steve Reich, Michael Gordon (with dance company EmioGreco|PC), Louis Andriessen (La Passione, TAO) and Hanns Eisler (with the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble).  Her soloistic capabilities, as well as her experience with Ensemble Klang and numerous early music ensembles, make her the ideal candidate for this central role of Grim’s Ditch.  Joseph Currie (Wadham) investigates different kinds of time in movement, motivated by the structural difference of heartbeats and breaths, alongside ideas about gendered breath and the expressive apparatus behind screaming.  A new instrumental piece for the ensemble, written by former Oxford composer, Sophie Sparkes, will also be premiered at the main performance on Friday evening.

Anna Appleby – CUE
Joel Baldwin – Grim’s Ditch (feat. Michaela Riener – mezzo soprano)
Joseph Currie – How many eyes do we have then, being two…
Sophie Sparkes – new work

Both open rehearsals (3-5pm on 4th and 5th July) and the performance at 7:30pm on 6th July will be livestreamed.

Date(s):  Friday, 6 July 7:30pm
Venue:  Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Oxford OX4 1DY
Tickets:  £25 (+£5 per open rehearsal session); £15 students (free entry to open rehearsals) Available online here
St. Hilda’s Alumnae Ticket Offer:  There is a 20% discount offer available for the alumnae of St. Hilda’s College to mark the 125th Anniversary of St. Hilda’s College. Please email the Development Office for more information.

You can find more information about this event here

Cut and RunChoreographer: Martin Lawrance

The fierce cut and jib of this work was evident from the first moment: music and movement battled for dominance, both rhythmic and rigorous. The choreography had a disjointed quality; the many pauses – some fleeting and others broad – prevented a sense of fluid motion. However this suited the music, which had pounding yet uneven rhythms and was often a cacophony of sound. The dancers rarely moved together; instead they seemed to fight, to exist alone, and to defy and reject each other. The level of technical command was impressive: each movement (or sudden stillness) was precise and controlled, and the dancers negotiated dizzying transitions between standing, lying, rolling and turning. (more…)

Richard Alston Dance Company returned to Oxford this week for one evening at the New Theatre. The programme opened with Martin Lawrance’s Cut and Run, to music by Michael Gordon and Damian LeGassick for ten dancers dressed in ‘urban wear’ with metallic decoration that glinted in the dim light. Starting and stopping, dodging and colliding, they broke out of the purple patch of illumination that seemed at first to confine them, and spread across the darkened stage. An interval of silence, then the lights changed to orange, adding a fresh sense of urgency to their frantic race, until the work concluded, with the dancers once more bathed in a purple glow. (more…)

Last week, Richard Alston Dance Company brought Oxford Playhouse a programme that was all about surprising encounters: tango and contemporary dance; Britten and Purcell; Scarlatti and Andalusia; Indian and Western classicism.

The evening opened with Martin Lawrance’s Tangent, a clever take on tango for four couples, set to Piazzolla’s Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas, which was played at the grand piano on stage by Jason Ridgway. Lawrance uses steps such as picked up foot-crossing walks, sharp changes of direction and occasional close holds to hint at tango, but this contemporary dance piece is not at all like ‘Strictly’, although there is plenty of spectacle. (more…)

It was exciting to see a programme on Saturday that included Richard Alston’s Lachrymae and Illuminations in Benjamin Britten’s centenary year.  The company opened with The Devil in the Detail, to Scott Joplin’s music (piano accompaniment by Faith Leadbetter, the only “live” music in the programme).  Kenneth Macmillan’s Elite Syncopations is a hard act to follow, but Nancy Nerantzi led this gentler dance work with charm and grace, bringing out the delightful sense of fun in the choreography, which ripples through the music like a stream of water.  The only problem is the score, which although pleasure to listen to, doesn’t seem to go anywhere (and so neither can the dance). (more…)

In the programme, Richard Alston quotes Balanchine’s statement “see the music, hear the dance”, and the music that he invites us to “see” in this triple bill is typically diverse:  Jo Kondo for Buzzing Round the Hunnisuccle; Mozart and Ferruccio Busoni for Unfinished Business, and finally Julia Wolfe for Martin Lawrance’s work Madcap.

I saw this programme twice, once from the Stalls and once from the Circle, and each was a completely different experience.  (more…)