“Spring is coming…” I wrote in posting an advance round-up of performance and other events for this year’s edition of Dancin’ Oxford Festival 1st – 11th March 2018. It would perhaps have been more appropriate to post “Winter is coming…” as the arrival of the “Beast from the East” took some casualties in the first weekend of programming. Heavy snowfall and consequent travel disruption led to the postponement to a later date (to be announced) of the one day Dance and Academia conference, with several guest speakers unable to get there. That same day (Saturday 3rd March) Company Chameleon’s performance at Pegasus Theatre was also cancelled.

Other companies who had arrived in Oxford a day or two earlier before the snow were able to continue with scheduled performances in true “the show must go on” style, and with encouragingly healthy audiences. At the end of Theatre Ad Infinitum’s Friday evening performance of Odyssey at The North Wall, performer George Mann gave a heartfelt thanks to those that had made it. I found this lively retelling of Homer’s great story of journey and homecoming well worth crunching through silent snowy streets for. (more…)

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Late on Monday 6th November 2017 Ana Barbour, much loved, inspirational and guiding presence in the Oxford dance scene, passed away having battled with cancer.  Her touching funeral at the home she loved on Sunday 12th November was attended by numerous family, friends, and colleagues, and was a celebration of her life and achievements in speeches, songs and dance.  I felt honoured to speak on that occasion about Ana’s work as a dance artist in Oxford, and I am posting here my speech to pay tribute to her.  You can also find links below to her own blog Anadances, Cafe Reason of whom she was an integral part, and the DEC Project; and her own occasional writings for this blog.  Oxford Dance Writers would really welcome other voices in this endeavour of remembrance, so please use the comments facility below to add to this partial picture your particular memories of Ana.  Thank you!

Ana Barbour

When I mounted the Solos Project for Oxford dance artists in 2008 Ana was one of six dancers who showed solos in the Burton Taylor’s intimate studio space. Her Butoh inspired piece Baggage accompanied by the atmospheric music of her long term friend and collaborator Malcolm Atkins was a remarkable episode in which having entered bowed down by a bundle on her back she burrowed into the baggage itself, morphing into surreal shapes and images of confined struggle that were humorous, poignant and dreamlike. It was my first experience of Ana as creative imagination and compelling performer. (more…)

Dancin’ Oxford’s annual Spring Festival offers something for everyone. From international choreographers, to free outdoor experiences, a Dance-A-Thon, professional and amateur companies, plus shows for children and workshops, Dancin’ Oxford 2017 has programmed a festival of treats.

Now in its 11th year and funded by Oxford City Council and Arts Council England, Dancin’ Oxford goes from strength to strength. Claire Thompson, Oxford City Council Dance Officer said “We find that each new festival is rewarding in so many ways. Oxford’s vibrant dance scene love it as do many people who have never experienced dance before. The free dance event in the city brings a variety of dance styles to the shoppers some of whom have been known to join in.’

Dancin’ Spaces (4 March), in and around the City Centre, is a variety of programmed dance performances and promenade pieces. Shoppers might find they are chosen to be ‘protected and defended’ by dancing Bodyguards, discover a dance about football fusing hip hop with contemporary dance, watch a performance for children in the Museum of History of Science or a duet in the Weston Library foyer. All this runs alongside a plethora of local dance companies which will entertain and delight shoppers. (more…)

This year Oxford celebrates the 10th anniversary of its very own springtime dance festival in Dancin’ Oxford 2016.  Watch out for an action packed 11 days including performances by locally based companies and visiting national and international artists, as well as a host of enticing workshops in a range of genres.  Here is a calendar of performance dates for your diary with links to further information and booking:

Friday 26th-Saturday 27th February, Pegasus Theatre:
Moving With the Times.  The annual platform of new work by Oxford dance artists includes Dancin’ Oxford & Pegasus commissioned pieces from in.motion dance (contemporary), Body Politic (hip hop) and Drishti Dance (contemporary/kathak) and We Were Youth, choreographed and performed by 3 male dancers who started dancing in Oxford and are now at the top of their game, dancing with such international companies as DV8, Hofesh Shechter and Peeping Tom.

Further info here

Saturday 27th February, Bonn Square:
Dancin’ Spaces.  Celebratory open air free performances in the city centre; companies performing Hawk Dance Theatre, infuse DANCE, Granny Turismo, Company Chameleon, Ajos Dance and Sole Rebel Tap.
Monday 29th February, Old Fire Station:
Leap Day Dancing.  A special programme of works featuring dance, live music and film to join Dancin’ Oxford’s tenth anniversary celebrations. Including Oxford artists Crossover Intergenerational Dance, Joëlle Pappas Projects, Susie Crow, Paulette Mae, Alan Hutson and the UK premier of Jos Baker’s new solo work Of No Fixed Abode.
Further info here
Wednesday 2nd March, The North Wall:
In The Happiness  Karla Shacklock Company combine choreography, spoken word and live sound in fast and furious devised physical theatre.
Further info here
Friday 4th- Saturday 5th March, Old Fire Station:
Duet Squared and More.  Joëlle Pappas choreographs and directs a poetic programme of contemporary dance to piano duets by Maurice Ravel and Erik Satie, played live by Diana Hinds and Elizabeth Kreager. The evening also presents dance to compositions by Douglas Young and Benjamin Britten.
Further info here
Friday 4th-Saturday 5th March, Oxford Playhouse:
Thomas Noone and Mercat de los Flors Barcelona present the UK premiere of Medea, Noone’s powerful version of Euripides’ ancient tragedy, an exquisite evening of dance packed with emotional charge.
Further info here
Saturday 5th March, Pegasus Theatre:
The Black Album. A triple bill in which three distinctly different hip hop choreographies are woven together like a concept album, taking you on a soulful journey through many shades of black.
Further info here
You can find the full Dancin’ Oxford 2016 festival programme including all the workshops here
Book soon, most venues will quickly fill…
Enjoy!

I arrived late to find myself in the middle of Selfies x4 by Marina Collard Company. On stage were 4 young female dancers Lorea Burge, Alice Labant, Mathilde Lepage Bagatta and Carolina Ravaioli – dressed in jeans and a pairing of blues and reddish tops. Sometimes they stood and gazed vacantly, other times they preened, sat, walked, jumped or danced; some lovely consecutive moves, responses, stopping and starting between the pairs. Behind them, ‘selfie shots’ – pictures of faces – built up in a mosaic of squares over the back screen and disappeared again to reappear in another configuration. The soundtrack a hubbub of background noise: talking, sometimes in English, sometimes in a foreign language, a lot of giggling and awkward noises, the clattering, clanking sounds of a canteen. The whole aptly expressing the isolating (alienating?) contentment and self absorption of selfie culture.  At the end we were treated to the two pairs becoming a four and posing for each other and us; a connection warmly appreciated by the audience. This work was a collaboration between Marina, Paul Whitty (sound/music) and Vicki Rucinska ( film/projection). (more…)

Once again Oxford puts on its dancing shoes for its annual festival Dancin’ Oxford.  This year’s edition starts on Wednesday 25th February and ends on Monday 9th March; its lively and wide ranging programme includes not only performances but workshops and activities to join in.  The Festival’s public launch will take place on Saturday 28th February between 10.00am and 4.00pm with free outdoor performances in the city centre, including Broad Street and Bonn Square, and featuring previous festival favourites Granny Turismo, Body Politic and Being Frank.

Companies performing in the Festival include:

The Pneûma Project at St John the Evangelist Church, Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th February

Moving With the Times, the annual showcase of work by Oxford based dance makers and performers, this year featuring Cecilia Macfarlane, Melissa Holding, Hilary Kneale, Justice in Motion, Marina Collard, and Alan Hutson and Nicola Moses-Thrower of Unlock the Chains Collective; Pegasus Theatre Friday 27th and Saturday 28th February (more…)

This Dance Scratch provides a chance to catch the artists chosen to present work as part of Moving With The Times, the annual Dancin’ Oxford platform for local professional choreographers, giving the first airing of their new choreography in a work-in-progress showcase at the Pegasus Theatre.  Get a sneak peek and contribute your feedback before the final production during the festival in February.

Artists and companies showing work include Justice in Motion, Marina Collard, Unlock The Chains Collective, Cecilia Macfarlane with Melissa Holden and Hilary Kneale.

Date:  Friday 23rd January 2015, 7.30pm

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

This is a free event but booking is essential.