On Sunday, Oxford Dance Forum celebrated Evolution, its three-year professional development programme for dance artists, funded by Arts Council England and Oxford City Council. Events were free to attend, but had sold out quickly and I was lucky to catch performances by Jenny Parrott, Naomi Morris, and Joëlle Pappas with musician Christopher Redgate, before a discussion led by dance dramaturg Miranda Laurence.

Jenny Parrott’s part-planned, part-improvised performance of With or without (tea and cake) in the OFS Café created an intimate and friendly atmosphere as she led us through a daydream laced with absurdity and gentle humour, built around ordinary domestic objects (a cup of tea; a ball of wool; a hat …). Initially her props were hidden beneath a cloth but she was visible, then in a neat reversal she removed the cloth so that we could see the objects, before covering her face. It was an enjoyable opening to this part of the afternoon programme. (more…)

In an exciting day at the Old Fire Station sharing the recent work of Oxford dance makers, Oxford Dance Forum (ODF) celebrates its Evolution Programme, acknowledging the end of this productive three year Arts Council England/Oxford City Council funded initiative, and marking the beginning of a new entirely independent phase for Oxford Dance Forum.

In December 2019 Claire Thompson, who has overseen ODF since 2006 as part of her role as Dance Officer for Oxford City Council, will be taking a step back to enable the Forum to become fully artist-led. Claire has been pivotal in fundraising for initiatives that support local dance artists as well as building partnerships both within Oxfordshire and other regions, and ODF members are extremely grateful for her work over the past 13 years, as well as for the contributions of many local dance artists who since 2006 have voluntarily given their time as members of the ODF Steering Group.

ODF’s aim is to support Oxfordshire dance artists in their ongoing research and development as makers, teachers, and performers, so please encourage those you know to come along to this event to celebrate its work to date, or consider donating to the ODF collective to help it to continue supporting Oxford’s vibrant and dynamic dance community.

Screenings of dance films, documentaries and performances will run through the afternoon in the dance studio and foyer alongside performances and sharings of Oxford dance artists’ work, see full programme below.

Date:  Sunday 13th October 1.30-9.00pm

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

Tickets:  All tickets are free, but booking is essential.  You can book online for individual events here, or call the Box Office on 01865 263990

as follows:

Mae
1.30pm & 4pm (15 mins) Dance Studio
An informal and intimate opportunity to listen to a specially created podcast by Mae based upon her explorations into creating sound, particularly the use of contact mics, as part of her Evolution funding. Mae will be present to share her feelings on dance experimentation whilst also showing film clips and objects used within the research.

Jenny Parrott, Joëlle Pappas and Christopher Redgate, and Naomi Morris
1.50pm & 4.20pm (1 hour approx) Cafe and Loft
An intriguing and entertaining promenade event of dance, live music, projections, and dialogue that takes place in the Cafe and Loft. Ages 18+ (contains nudity).

Miranda Laurence
3.05pm (45 minutes) Dance Studio
Join Miranda Laurence for a discussion exploring how to watch dance and get more out of it. This talk is open to all – dance makers, regular dance watchers, and those who may have little or no experience of watching dance.

Body Politic, Justice in Motion, Segolene Tarte, Sole Rebel Tap, and Unlock the Chains Collective & Kuumba Nia Arts
6pm (1.5 hours approx) Theatre
A rare opportunity to experience an eclectic mix of works created by 5 Oxford based dance artists and companies, presenting short excerpts in styles ranging from hip hop to butoh, tap to physical theatre, and ballet to performance poetry.

The award-winning Company Chordelia (Nijinsky’s Last Jump, Lady Macbeth: Unsex Me Here) return to The North Wall with their latest production, direct from its world premiere at Edinburgh Fringe 2019.  Created and directed by Kally Lloyd-Jones, The Chosen is an intensely moving dance piece about dying and embracing the art of living.

How do we choose to live in the face of the inevitable and how do we think about the final stage of our life cycle? Increasingly, as medicine advances, knowledge of imminent death has become a reality for everyone; The Chosen addresses our individual mortality from the shifting perspectives of ourselves and our loved ones.

“elegant and eviscerating” ***** The Stage

Performance:  Saturday 14th September 8.00pm

Venue:  The North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade, Oxford OX2 7JN

Tickets:  Full Price: £16, Concessions: £14, Members: 15% off

Available online here, or call the Box Office on 01865 319450

Age Guidance: 12+

Dance Audience Club 6.30pm

If you are curious about dance, but sometimes feel a bit stumped about how to process it or talk about it, then Dance Audience Club is for you! A friendly, informal opportunity to give language to an art experience that can sometimes feel a bit difficult to pin down.

This pre-show discussion is an independent project led by Miranda Laurence, supported by The North Wall and Oxford Dance Forum. It’s free to take part, with discounted tickets to The Chosen. To book your place, email Amy Walters on waltersa@thenorthwall.com

Open Rehearsal 2pm – 5pm

Drop in to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of The Chosen as part of Oxford Open Doors.

Find out more about Company Chordelia here

Dance and Academia presents another thought-provoking seminar in its current series, which continues the theme What is Dance without an Audience?, following three seminars in 2017/18 exploring diverse perspectives from the dance world and beyond.  Convened by dance dramaturg Miranda Laurence, this evening includes presentations by Cathy Seago (University of Winchester) and Lizzie Sykes (University of Bournemouth), and by Lise Smith:

A Somatic Lens

Lizzie Sykes (screen-based artist) and Cathy Seago (dance artist) have been working collaboratively to generate work by asking somatic and filmic questions about content and presentation. We are exploring the nature, impact and materiality of the ‘screen’ and the ‘lens’ in mediating emergent work that has potentially live and digitised elements. Responding organically to site and place via a somatic and kinetic focus we have questioned the spectator’s role and impact on the work at different stages – be they live, mobile, choice-making, unsuspecting, distanced, imagined, and/or literate in particular codes. This presentation will share some of the questions, processes and findings about presence, perspective and environment for dance/ film audiences.

The Critic as Audience Member: reflecting on the role of the reviewer

We often think about the relationship between a Theatre reviewer and the artist reviewed or the work presented. But what about the critic as audience member? How does a critic’s place in the audience reflect and impact in their experience of a performance? How do they speak for, to and on behalf of the watching audience? And why does it sometimes feel like the reviewer and the rest of the audience have just watched two completely different works? Dr Lise Smith (often a reviewer, frequently an audience member, mostly a producer and sometimes a performer) opens these and other questions to discussion.

Date:  Thursday 1st November 2018, 6-8pm
Venue:  St Aldate’s Room, Town Hall, St Aldate’s, Oxford OX1 1BX
Tickets: £6 (pay cash on the door – please bring exact money if possible)
Reserve a place by emailing miranda@mirandalaurence.co.uk. Places are limited.

Dance & Academia: Moving the Boundaries is an Oxford-based project set up in 2007 and run by dance dramaturg Miranda Laurence. The project aims to facilitate dialogue between practitioners, academics in any field, and lay people, who have an interest in any aspect of dance or movement.
Oxford is a city with a rich academic heritage and is also host to a strong community of professional dance practitioners. Dance & Academia aims to be a genuinely interdisciplinary platform where intersections between research and practice in dance can be explored. The group welcomes everyone regardless of background, and intends to be an egalitarian space respecting and exchanging all kinds of different ways of knowing.
More information available here.

Dance & Academia is supported by Dancin’ Oxford festival.

Miranda Laurence is a dramaturg, working mostly with dance makers. In this role she accompanies a director or choreographer during the process of creating a new work, attending to the rhythm of all elements in the piece, and actively noticing responses from the viewer’s perspective.  Miranda is currently undertaking a self-led professional development project in dance dramaturgy funded by Arts Council England.

Here for Oxford Dance Writers Miranda gives a revealing insight into her role in assisting the development of new work within the privacy of the dance studio.

I’m sitting in the faded splendour of Swindon Dance’s main studio, which is adorned with huge vintage mirrors, curlicued window frames and chunky old-fashioned radiators. As usual, I’m tucked away in a corner, sitting on the floor, taking in the size, shape, feel and details of the space around. Out on the floor, two dancers (Thomasin Gülgeç and Estela Merlos) undergo their warm-up, twisting and weaving fluidly through the space, mirroring each other or going off on tangents. I think: “am I earning my money as a dramaturg by watching these dancers warm up? How should I warm myself up?” (more…)

PinDrop Creative & Oxford University Buddhist Society present a fascinating forthcoming event, Journey into Jatakas.  Oxford based Composer/Producer Sebastian Reynolds will be joined by the curator of the Ashmolean Museum’s acclaimed Imagining the Divine exhibition Jas Elsner, Jataka scholar Dr Sarah Shaw and Oxford University Classics scholar Professor Fiona Macintosh for a lunchtime talk on new dance and music production Mahajanaka Dance Drama – a collaboration between internationally renowned artists from Bangkok, Thailand and the UK.  Join in with the discussion facilitated by dramaturg Miranda Laurence to discover Jataka mythology, and how one of the oldest surviving stories in the world has inspired a contemporary re-telling. In the forthcoming production Neon Dance Artistic Director and choreographer Adrienne Hart and composer Sebastian Reynolds collaborate with musicians and dance artists from Thailand and the UK to retell the story of Mahajanaka Jataka, a shipwrecked prince who survives alone at sea until the goddess of the ocean comes to his rescue. Bringing together eastern and western musical traditions, this beautiful show fuses ancient and modern, and will preview at Wiltshire Music Centre on 2nd April 2018.

Date:  15th February 12.00 – 1.00pm

Venue:  Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Free Entrance

Facebook event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1953595548239167/

Tickets for the Mahajanaka Dance Drama preview at Wiltshire Music Centre can be bought here

Dance and Academia‘s fascinating seminar series programmed by Miranda Laurence continues this week with its third session presented by Professor Nicky Clayton and Clive Wilkins (Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge):

What is dance without an audience? An investigation beyond language and the complexity of our social interaction to explore wordless thoughts~ to include demonstrations of tango and magic.

i. Does an audience have to be real?
ii. Is dance without an audience merely ritual, resulting in an altered state, and if so, what kind?
iii. Is dance without an audience simply the confirmation of a heartbeat?
iv. Is the introspection of an intimate partner dance audience free, and if so, what is being explored?
v. Is dance without an audience the opportunity to invent and explore realities that exist outside of the compass of shared experience?

Date:  Tuesday 6th February, 6-8.15pm

Venue:  Heritage Learning Centre, Town Hall, St Aldate’s, Oxford OX1 1BX

Tickets: £5 cash on the door per seminar (£1 off for any repeat attenders). Please email miranda.c.laurence@gmail.com to reserve your place.

The seminar series concludes with a Culmination Conference  during the Dancin’ Oxford Festival.  A whole day provides opportunities  for exploring responses around questions of dance and audience. Themes will include dance in ritual and worship contexts; the role of the dance critic; a workshop on the Visual Matrix Method of accessing audience response; investigations into performer-audience connections across Bharatanatyam dance, site-specific work and other disciplines.

Date:  Saturday 3rd March, 10.30am-4.30pm

Venue:  Harold Lee Room, Pembroke College, St Aldate’s, Oxford OX1 1DW

Tickets:  £20 – please book here
Includes lunch and refreshments

For further information visit www.mirandalaurence.co.uk