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…)

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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

Dance and Academia: Moving the Boundaries, convened by Miranda Laurence, returns this academic year with a thought-provoking series of three seminars exploring the provocative question “What is Dance without an Audience?“. For academics in all disciplines, dance artists and movement practitioners, and anyone else who wants to exchange thinking about dance!

Tuesday 3rd October 6.00-8.15pm: Chloe Metcalfe (Roehampton University)

When non-dancers dance: considerations of audience and performer in contemporary British community-dance events.

Social dance blurs the distinction between audience and performer. Nowhere is this more true than in community barn dances, usually held by non-performance based organisations across England. This evening will feature a brief talk about the concept of performer within this context, drawing upon PhD research of such dances in Buckinghamshire. This will be followed by a fun, practical workshop where the concepts of audience and performer are engaged with.

Tuesday 5th December 6.00-8.15pm: Susie Crow and Maggie Watson (Roehampton University and Oxford dance practitioners)

Looking in and looking out: ballet performance from the perspective of the viewer and the doer

Presentations and discussion which focus on the audience-performer relationship in ballet, seen from different perspectives but both raising questions about the identity of the work.  Maggie Watson uses the example of the first performances of Marius Petipa’s La Bayadère by the Royal Ballet in 1963 to reflect on how the historical and cultural context surrounding performance may colour audience perceptions of a work and understanding of its significance.  Susie Crow draws on her own experience as a ballet dancer and choreographer to reflect on the contribution of space, place and different publics to shaping the work in performance, and in consequence to the development of ballet as a form in itself.

Tuesday 6th February 2018, 6.00-8.15pm: 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.

  1. Does an audience have to be real?
  2. Is dance without an audience merely ritual, resulting in an altered state, and ifso, what kind?
  3. Is dance without an audience simply the confirmation of a heartbeat?
  4. Is the introspection of an intimate partner dance audience free, and if so, whatis being explored?
  5. Is dance without an audience the opportunity to invent and explore realitiesthat exist outside of the compass of shared experience?

Dates:  Tuesdays 3 October, 5 December 2017, 6 February 2018 6.00-8.15pm

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.

Presented as part of Dancin’ Oxford 2018 www.dancinoxford.co.uk

Black shapes twist and turn languidly in the water. Reflections ripple out. Now a foot, now a hand shows; a figure faces down into the water. The refraction of light causes strange foreshortenings of limbs, odd bulges break from the surface as air moves around a wetsuit. A twiggy chorus of hands lifts, turning slightly, then shifts apart again. Figures sway horizontally, pushed and pulled by the heavy liquid mass around them. Accompanied by a minimalist score of growing intensity, this is mesmeric watching.

Pond, a piece by Helsinki-based integrated dance company Kaaos Dance, takes place in the spa area of a hotel some 20-odd kilometres outside of the city. We audience members first encounter each other on a coach outside Madhouse theatre, which is hosting the event. During the journey through a bleak January afternoon landscape of dirty snow and black trees, we are instructed to turn off our smart phones and invited to relax into a ‘retreat’, an experience aiming taking us out of the real world for a short while. (more…)

It is that time of the year again, suddenly Christmas is looming with urgent gift shopping imperatives.  But don’t worry, once again Oxford Dance Writers is here to help with our round up of dance publications reviewed and received this year, from the highly academic and practical to the entertaining memoir and gorgeously illustrated records of companies and dancers; for the dance lovers in your lives, or to add to your own Christmas wish list…  Great thanks once again to all our reviewers! (more…)

This collection of essays has emerged at a time at which the term dramaturgy is increasingly heard and used within dance disciplines, particularly in the UK. Whilst, as the preface says, dramaturgy has been included in the choreographic process since the 1970s, it is still very much a term that has many different meanings and connotations within dance practice today, with artists and scholars often aware of the term but little else about the practice. This book’s contributors approach dramaturgy for dance from a number of different directions, and as a whole the book illuminates quite how diverse the practice of dance dramaturgy is, highlighting this very diversity as a strength of the practice of dramaturgy.

The book is divided into three sections, ‘Agency’, ‘Awareness’, and ‘Engagement’, with a mixture of theoretical essays, case studies and reflections on experiences written by dance scholars, dance artists and dramaturgs. (more…)