In November 2019 Oxford Dance Writers (ODW) celebrated its 10th anniversary with a reception at the North Wall Arts Centre to mark the occasion. The evening provided a joyful opportunity for members of the wider Oxford dance and performing arts community to come together and catch up.  A panel of guest speakers discussed dance writing each from their own specific perspective.  Dance critic and historian Nadine Meisner entertained us with stories of the dance reviewer’s rackety life, but also described her experiences drawing together her authoritative biography of Marius Petipa published in the summer.  Dance artist Nicholas Minns, reflected thoughtfully on his emergence as a dance blogger and online critic covering a wide spectrum of dance performance, and the writers influencing him in developing a distinctive voice and perspective.  Professor Susan Jones, the driving force behind Dance Scholarship Oxford (DANSOX) which has scheduled so many fascinating events (talks, seminars, lecture demonstrations, residencies) in recent years, gave insight into the place and potential of dance within Oxford University, and its enriching contribution to innovative interdisciplinary research projects and outreach. Oxford University Press mounted an impressive display of its varied publications on dance for those attending to browse and purchase.

ODW emerged from Ballet in Small Spaces’ The Solos Project in 2009 as an initiative to encourage critical writing and online discussion of dance, and generate informed reviews of the work of local dance artists.  Since then it has become a valuable record of dance performance activity in and around Oxford, listing forthcoming events as well as reviewing, bearing witness to dance in Oxford; generating an archive of the diverse and idiosyncratic dance history of a particular place.  Aiming to be a space for informed debate it has played a significant part in raising the profile of dance in Oxford, and developing its audience.  ODW has run three Dance Writers of the Future competitions to encourage younger writers.  It tracks and reports on academic dance initiatives such as Dance Scholarship Oxford and Dance and Academia events, and regularly reviews dance publications both academic and popular.  It has had the support of Oxfordshire venues who provide press tickets for ODW reviewers, and of publishers who have provided review copies of dance books.

Over the last ten years 40 writers have been featured, with substantial contributions from Susie Crow and Maggie Watson.  As well as academics (such as Miranda Laurence, Dana Mills) contributors have included local dance artists (including Ana Barbour, Jane Connelly, Rachel Gildea, Lisia Newmark); occasional guest writers (Nicholas Minns of writingaboutdance.com, Rebecca Nice, Emily May, art historian Barbara Berrington, former Oxford Times dance critic David Bellan); local dance lovers (such as Jess Ryan-Phillips, Susannah Harris-Wilson, Susanna Reece); and young writers who have entered our competitions.   ODW reaches a significant number of dance professionals and enthusiasts in the Oxfordshire area, and despite its mainly local focus the site also has an international following.

ODW now extends its grateful thanks to all who have contributed writing and who have supported the site in other ways over the years.  A special thanks to Maggie Watson who has recently completed with distinction an MA in Ballet Studies at the University of Roehampton, for so regularly contributing thoughtful, perceptive and empathetic reviews of a wide range of performances and publications.  With particular reference to our anniversary celebration, special mention must go to our wise and encouraging speakers, to Oxford Dance Forum for its generous support, to The North Wall for hosting us in such welcoming fashion, and to Oxford University Press for its enticing display of dance publications which prompted much pre Christmas buying.  And a final shout out for local dance and visual artist Naomi Morris for her beautiful images for ODW publicity materials.

We look forward to continuing… watch this space!  Your interest and comments will be greatly valued.

Wishing you all the best for 2020 and the coming decade,

Susie Crow

 

You can find information about Nadine Meisner’s biography Marius Petipa: The Emperor’s Ballet Master here or why not drop into the OUP Bookshop at 116-117, High St, Oxford OX1 4BZ.

Read Nicholas Minns’ latest reviews on his blog writingaboutdance.com here

Find out about Dance Scholarship Oxford, DANSOX, here

and about Dance and Academia here

Information about Oxford Dance Forum and its activities can be found here

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.

Oxford’s next Dance Scratch Night presented by Oxford Dance Forum (ODF) will take place at the Old Fire Station on Tuesday 24th September.  Another exciting opportunity to support the emerging work of local and regional dance makers.  Artists showing their work for this edition will be Gemma Peramiquel, Jenny Parrott and guest artist Attila Andrasi; and there will also be a chance to view a film (work in progress) by Naomi Morris & Phil Oakley.

Performance:  Tuesday 24th Sptember, 7.30pm

Venue:  Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2AQ

Tickets:  £5, available online here, or call the OFS Box Office on 01865 263990

 

The Contemporary Arts Research Unit CARU celebrates its (slightly belated) 4th anniversary with a great line-up of performances by artists from different forms working in collaboration, and including work by Oxford dance artists Naomi Morris, and Macarena Ortuzar (member of MUE).  This event is dedicated to talented photographer  Pier Corona, CARU’s VVVIP, and the heart of Oxford, who had been with CARU since its very first event 4 years ago.

Participating artists:

Naomi Morris
Martin Hackett
MUE – Macarena Ortuzar, Dariusz Dziala, Bruno Guastalla, Daniel Balanescu, performing ANIMUS
Peta Lloyd
Georgia Pazarloglou
Claire Frampton
Rory Flynn
Janice Howard

Date: Saturday 25th November, 6pm – 8pm

Venue: OVADA Gallery, 14a Osney Lane, Oxford. OX1 1NJ

FREE & ALL WELCOME!

Find out more about the event here and about MUE here

Find out about Pier Corona here and read the Oxford Mail’s tribute here

Curated by Oxford Dance Forum this occasional platform provides a welcome opportunity for Oxford dance artists to try out works in progress in a safe space, and for audiences to get an insight into the development of new works, and give feedback.  In this richly varied edition the artists are Naomi Morris with Hugh Pryor, Emma Webb and Richard Jones, Jenny Parrott, Ellie Aldegheri and Lunas Dance Project and Thomas Page Dancers.  See below for further details about the works they will be showing.

Performance:  Tuesday 25th April 7.30pm

Venue:  Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2AQ

Tickets:  £5

Book online here (more…)

Having seen commissioned works in progress at Scratch Night in January, Lizzy Spight returned to see the finished pieces in Moving with the Times, the annual showcase for works by Oxfordshire based dance artists.  Here are her responses to them…

STONE’S THROW – AnaMorphic Dance Theatre

On stage two musicians in the back left corner, with horn and keyboard; pebbles spread all over the stage, on a big screen two children walking through a green landscape, eating sandwiches and leaving markers on the ground.  A man and a woman enter; they dance, talk, share childhood experiences and sandwiches, play with “markers”/ pebbles on the ground, run along pebble paths. (more…)