The annual Offbeat Festival is a hive of new performance in Oxford showcasing brand-new theatre, comedy, dance, family shows, spoken word and music right on the doorstep. A collaboration between Oxford Playhouse and Arts at the Old Fire Station, it incorporates live and pre-recorded performances streamed from the Old Fire Station and Burton Taylor Studio. Take a chance on something exciting; here are details of dance shows at Offbeat.

Wednesday 13th July 8.00-9.00pm: Commonality

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

Tickets: £10 – book online here

Shared experiences in a world of division, with Thomas Page Dances.  Featuring contemporary dance, a unique score, live photography and an interactive set, Commonality looks at the parts of life that everyone has in common. Through the exploration of shared experiences and feelings, this performance paints the possibilities of coming together as one community.

Friday 15th July 8.00-9.00pm: Going Global

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

Tickets: £10 – book online here

Aradhana Arts are excited to bring Going Global to the Old Fire Station as part of Offbeat Festival, bringing together an ensemble of talented musicians presenting a rich mix of music from around the globe. The ensemble is led by the critically acclaimed Tabla Master Sanju Sahai and features versatile violinist Alice Barron, talented Sitarist and Vocalist Debipriya Sircar, versatile Guitarist Giuliano Modarelli and North Indian classical Kathak dance by Jaymini Sahai. Suitable for ages 10 years+

Sunday 17th July 11.00am-12.00: Apple ‘n’ Spice

Venue: BT Studio, Gloucester Street, Oxford OX1 2BN

Tickets: £8 – book online here

Sanskruti Dance introduces children to storytelling, dance and shadow puppetry with Apple ‘N’ Spice, an original, interactive and multi-cultural performance incorporating bharatanatyam and contemporary dance. This new fairy tale tells the story of two stepmothers; one from the East and one from the West, watch the plot thicken as their stories entwine. “Children and their families watched on in awe.” – Colchester and North Essex Gazette. Suitable for ages 5 years+

Ballet Black’s confident and authoritative performance on Wednesday night brought the Oxford audience to its feet.  The programme of two new works, Say It Loud and Black Sun was original, thought-provoking, and beautifully danced.  Ballet Black’s twentieth anniversary tour is a celebration, and both dances, in their very different ways, were about identity and belonging.

Say It Loud, by Cassa Pancho, looks at the company’s history using seven dance ‘chapters’.  To set the scene, the seven dancers listen to a list of quotations from reviews and social media, responding physically to criticism and praise, before the series of vignettes explores the company’s place in both British society and the world of ballet itself.  Pancho is serious, but handles difficult political issues with a gentle touch and even humour: there is plenty to be angry about, but her dancers firmly assert their right just to dance, expressing their hope and love of classical ballet.

Black Sun, a co-commission with The Barbican, choreographed by Gregory Maqoma, dives deep into the origins of the earth to discover a shared sense of humanity.  It feels like the beginning of the world when a dancer, slender and ethereal, a mysterious bird-creature on pointe, weaves her way between beams of light, parting invisible curtains.  Maqoma has created a collective creation myth, drawing on the each dancer’s ancestral lineage.  He suggests universal themes, which the audience might see through the eyes of their own culture: for me, the fall from grace, the outcast, the chosen maiden and sibling rivalry were all there.  The dancers (José Alves, Isabela Coracy, Alexander Fadayiro, Sayaka Ichikawa, Mthuthuzeli November, Cira Robinson and Ebony Thomas), speak, sing and play drums, as well as dancing, in this totally absorbing and powerful work.  The audience loved it.

Maggie Watson

2nd June 2022

Richard Chappell’s work Infinite Ways Home opens with five dancers grouped upstage right in a partial darkness that is pieced by beams of light.  On a day when the news was filled with terrible accounts of the citizens of Mariupol sheltering in basements, this felt like a cave, in which people awaited salvation from the world above.

The creative team, led by choreographer Richard Chappell, have drawn on ideas of community and ritual, finding links between the Druids’ ancient connections with the natural landscape and the collective experience of rave culture.  The work follows the arc of a trip, as dancers and audience share an intense multi-sensory experience.  Towards the end, violinist Enyuan Khong comes on stage, raising the intensity of the sound to a level that feels almost unbearable.  At the after-show discussion, led by Miranda Laurence, Chappell described how he had worked remotely with composers Matthew Allmark and Kai Hellstrom (collectively known as Larch) during the first lockdown, as they developed the pulsating electronic score.  Remarkably, the superb lighting design by Joshua Harriette, which felt intrinsic to the production, was created afterwards.

Chappell’s collaborative process fully involves the dancers (he generously acknowledged previous dancers on the programme sheet) and he ran an exciting workshop the following day at the United Reformed Church Hall in Oxford for advanced and professional performers.  His choreography involves strong, supple and sensual movements with full use of the entire body to shift smoothly between upright positions and the floor with energy and dynamism.  Although he has to work with free-lance dancers, they all take company class together and their performance showed a powerful sense of shared purpose and commitment.  Looking around the auditorium, it was clear that Chappell’s work reaches audiences that might not ordinarily attend dance works, and at the end dancers Fay Stoeser, Iris Borras, Edd Arnold, Imogen Alvares, and Theo Arran received wild and enthusiastic applause.

Like Chhaya Collective, which appeared at The Mill Arts Centre Banbury the previous week, Richard Chappell Dance is based in the West Country:  we owe a big ‘thank you’ to the Dancin’ Oxford Festival for helping to bring these companies to Oxfordshire.

Maggie Watson

20th March 2022

Dancin’ Oxford‘s Spring Festival features exciting guest companies, local companies and newly commissioned work as well as a host of participatory activities such as workshops and discussions. Here follows a list of performances, with links to more information and booking details:

Moving With the Times, now in its 11th year, features three new works from exciting emerging companies, co-commissioned by Dancin’ Oxford and Pegasus Theatre. In Excessive Human Collective‘s piece Post Truth Whatever, three female performers create and broadcast propaganda in a fictional world which is eerily similar to our own. Night People Events present The Rave Girl; housed within a colourful visual landscape, the rave girl explores how hype, rave, and expression can collide, creating a complex, yet otherworldly persona that demands to be seen. In light of the horrific murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa, Phoebe Tompsett Dance work The Daily Male casts a stark light on the measures that women are forced to take every day simply to remain safe.

Date: Friday 4th & Saturday 5th March 7.30pm

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

Tickets: £13, concessions £10 Book online here

Recommended age: 12 years+

For the Festival Opening Oxford’s Westgate shopping centre will come to life with a series of short shows from national and local companies to make you think, smile and want to dance. Richard Chappell presents Infinite Ways Home – a multisensory production that explores ritual, rave and human connection. Unlock the Chains Collective depicts a community united in grief and anger as it remembers and mourns the lives of those lost at the hands of the state. This outdoor piece is commissioned by Dancin’ Oxford and supported by TORCH. Joli Vyann presents an innovative duet fusing circus, dance and theatre – blurring the boundaries of dance and circus skills. Also performing will be vibrant and talented youth dance troupes from across Oxford including Step2 Dance, Body Politic, TPD Young Artists and Mini Professionals. Join the Zumba party for fun and to learn some moves.

Date: Saturday 5th March 12.00-5.00pm

Location: Leiden Square, Westgate, Queen St, Oxford OX1 1TR

Free, and suitable for all ages

KHAOS & HYMNOS – Chhaya Collective

A double bill of two extraordinary dance pieces about women resisting oppression. In HYMNOS, inspired by the story of Iranian artist Saba Zavarei and her online platform Radio Khiaban,”even the most captured woman guards the place of the wildish self, for she knows intuitively that someday there will be a loophole, an aperture, a chance, and she will hightail it to escape.” In KHAOS live musicians join six contemporary dance artists to revel in the joy, tenderness and the power of wild women.

Date: Thursday 10th March 7.30pm

Venue: The Mill, Spiceball Park, Banbury OX16 5QE

Tickets: £16 Book online here

Recommended age: 13 years+

Body Politic – Them

Directed by Emma-Jane Greig and with choreography by L’atisse Rhoden, THEM flicks through the journal pages of three survivors of sexual violence, exploring the women’s struggles to navigate the trauma and its impact on their mental wellbeing, their loss of self, and finding healing. Inspired by American poet and novelist Kim Addonizio’s poem To The Woman Crying Uncontrollably In The Next Stall, this powerful and gripping display of hip-hop dance draws movement from the stark and vivid imagery of her words.

Date: Friday 11th March 7.30pm

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

Tickets: £14 (concessions £12, under-25 £10) Book online here

Recommended age: 14 years+

Stay after the show for Talk About Dance, an opportunity to join Body Politic Artistic Director Emma-Jane Greig in conversation with independent dramaturg Miranda Laurence, share your thoughts, ask questions and join the discussion. 8.45-9.30pm, free.

Wriggle Dance Theatre – Squidge

Do you squish or squash, handshake or hug, stretch out or snuggle in like a bug? A truly magical and funny interactive dance show with live music and digital projection, taking a light-hearted look at our sense of touch and how it influences our everyday lives; at its heart a tale of  friendship and compromise. An immersive shared experience to delight children and their grown-ups alike.

Date: Saturday 12th March 11.00am and 2.00pm

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

Tickets: £8 (concessions £6) Book online here

Running time: 50 minutes Suitable for ages 3-8 years

Watch the Squidge film and participate in a workshop at the Mill Banbury – find out more here

Richard Chappell DanceInfinite Way Home

Critically acclaimed choreographer Richard Chappell presents his most ambitious work to date, a multisensory production that explores ritual, rave and human connection. Using a diverse choreographic language of ballet, contemporary dance and improvisation, Infinite Ways Home looks to redefine our sense of community and home, in a mesmerising feast of colour and pulsating sound. Performed by an ensemble of extraordinary dancers, it features electronic music by award-winning experimental duo Larch, alongside live violin by acclaimed soloist Enyuan Khong.

Date: Monday 14th March 7.30pm

Venue: Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW

Tickets: £10 – £16.50 Book online here

Duration: 60 minutes Suitable for ages 7 years+

Stay after the show for Talk About Dance, with choreographer Richard Chappell and Miranda Laurence, to share your thoughts, ask questions and join the discussion. 8.45-9.30pm, free.

Botis Seva – BLKDOG

A beautifully brutal commentary on how the youth of today are coping in a world not built for them. Through emotionally charged Hip Hop dance, BLKDOG reveals how self-discovery leads to self-destruction. Through haunting childhood memories and adult life traumas, how do we fight through our vices to find a sense of peace? The music has grown from a long-standing collaboration with Torben Lars Sylvest and words performed by  Far From The Norm and guests. Tom Visser’s lighting brings a dark smog of disillusion, while hooded caps and padded costumes by Ryan Laight echo the protection and comfort of childhood. BLKDOG won an Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production in 2019 and in 2021, and has been was nominated for a Black British Theatre Award 2022 for Best Dance Production.

Date: Wednesday 16th & Thursday 17th March 7.30pm

Venue: Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW

Tickets: £10 – £26 Book online here

Suitable for ages 11 years+

Find a full programme of Festival activities including participatory workshops here

The latest work from ‘genre-defying’ choreographer Alexander Whitley harnesses motion capture technology to explore the biological form of the human body. This spectacular new stage production asks, are organisms just algorithms? Is life just data processing? Whitley’s experimental new work Anti-Body uses motion capture technology in a unique and visually thrilling dance experience that sees dancers perform together live and in virtual space.

Renowned for creating ambitious, interdisciplinary, and thought-provoking work with innovation and digital technology at its core, Anti-Body is Whitley’s first new work for the stage since the Covid-19 pandemic and will preview at DanceEast on Friday 8th October 2021 and Oxford Playhouse, in partnership with Oxford Science and Ideas Festival (IF Oxford), on Tuesday 26th October 2021.

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Oxford’s annual theatre festival Offbeat hosted by Oxford Playhouse and Arts at the Old Fire Station is back after a year’s absence. The brand-new, socially distanced festival brings the best of thought-provoking, entertaining theatre to in-person, online and outdoor audiences from 22nd to 27th June. Here are details of some dance and physical theatre events to watch online from 10.00am Tuesday June 22nd to 9.00pm Sunday June 27th, and a live streamed performance by Drishti Dance on Saturday 26th June at The Old Fire Station.

Kattam Katti transports you to Uttarayan, the world-famous festival in North India where millions of people fly kites together to mark the transition from winter into spring. Tapping into the competitive chaos, creativity and colour of the event, this film brings life to kite flying with lyricism, drama and exquisite technique. Kattam Katti is created and Choreographed by Artistic Director, acclaimed dance artist, Urja Desai Thakore in collaboration with Award-winning Screendance production company, The Motion Dance Collective. Featuring a new generation of Asian British dancers and musicians.

By Pagrav Dance Company

Duration 19 minutes: watch online, on-demand for free: please book online here

Ina Ama is a dance project with the goal of showcasing and facilitating a space for Filipino artists. Jason Mabana writes: As a choreographer with a Filipino heritage, I felt it was necessary to provide a safe space where the dancers, the collaborators and I could exchange and share a few aspects from our culture.

The project started from one of the many articles which mentioned that 20% of the NHS Staff that died during Covid 19 were Filipino. We were all astonished by this shocking number and wanted to help in our own way. The piece is looking at a few subjects such as mental health which is not talked about widely in our culture but also have an approach which is more educating people to some facets of our culture such as Tinikling, The Bayanihan Spirit, family bonding…

We have worked with different collaborators such as The British Filipino Choir (HARAYA) who are a group of singers as well as nurses, Mikayla Teodoro who is a Filipino Set Designer specialized in Puppetry, Troy Cabida, a poet from London who shared his texts for our creation.

By Jason Mabana

Duration 30 minutes: watch online, on-demand, price £5, please book online here

Unfurl – A gallery of dance films without a choreographer. Three dancers from around the globe were invited to film themselves improvising on themes of connection, joy and kindness. Director Joe Lott edited their improvisations to create a portrait of each dancer. Join Bonnie Simons, Tingting Yang, and Karni Ishai, as they gently release their limbs, unwinding like ferns in the breeze. Moments of movement are playfully layered, interwoven and dissolved.

Joe Lott is a Brighton-based choreographer, film-maker and arts and education marketing professional. Follow Joe Lott on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joe_lott_ @Joe_Lott_
Explore Joe’s work: www.joelottdance.co.uk

Tingting Yang is a dance artist and language teacher based in Oxford.

Bonnie Simons is currently completing her Masters in Performance at Chichester University.
Follow Bonnie on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bonniesimonsdance_/ @BonnieSimonsDance_

Karni Ishai is a movement therapist and Jungian analyst.

Watch these films here

Through Our Eyes is a powerful, thought-provoking dance film by Shaquille Brathwaite-Blaggrove, inspired by Black Lives Matter protests. There are many people who still believe racism does not exist. There are many people who believe that systemic oppression does not exist. There are many people who think white privilege does not exist. We invite you to come and see what life is like for us. We want you to see things through our eyes.

Watch the film for free here

Color Me Rainbow

I colour myself a rainbow…
A full spectrum of the shades of yore…
I am embraced in their true brilliance-
From this day to the days of long before! ..

Theo Onken

A collection of short Kathak works from Drishti Dance, each exploring the nature of intricate bond that connects colours with human consciousness and nature. Colours are the outer manifestation of the elemental moods of inner world, joy, sorrow, grief, desire and above all love, and the collage of works is a joyful celebration of these complex emotional connections and their interplay through a combination of movement music and poetry.

Suitable for ages 6 plus. At the Old Fire Station Theatre – and livestreamed. Tickets £10, book online here

A Little Space is an artful collaboration between Gecko and Mind the Gap; exploring all the ways it means to be alone.  The show is fantastic physical theatre, in that it explores the complex emotional and institutional features of its main theme using a full range of theatrical tools.  The cast begin inside an apartment, where a group of people gather, speaking to each other through the rise and fall of their hands and shoulders, shifting weight, traveling through breath, and chattering casually with deft gestures.  From here we dive through the floorboards of the apartment, into memory, trauma, fear, and fantasy.  The boundary lines between each is successfully blurred.  But this abstraction doesn’t veer into the anti-emotional territories of other vignette fans: late modern (Cunningham) or early American post-modern dance (Yvonne Rainer).  Instead, A Little Space stays with feeling until the work begins to take on a haunting sense of associative logic.  This allows the show to attend to the aggregate sensations of joy, fear, hope, paranoia, and loneliness that accompany being alone, a complex physical state for many people currently, in a moment where large swathes of the world’s population are considering to self-isolation. (more…)

Dancin’ Oxford‘s annual festival of dance this year provides a packed and varied programme of performances, workshops and discussions, something for everyone to enjoy, in a range of venues.  Here for convenience is a list of all the performances: for details of practical workshops and taster sessions check out the Dancin’ Oxford website here or the links embedded to particular events.  Look out too for Dance Audience Club sessions on 29th February, 3rd March and 6th March; find out more about these friendly opportunites to think and talk about the dance you see with others here.  And if planning to take in several events, why not avail yourself of a Festival Pass which will get you reductions on ticket prices… find out about this here.  A reminder too that the exhibition of photographs by Colin Jones, Backstage at the Ballet, continues to the end of the Festival; further details here.

Moving with the Times:  Pegasus Theatre, Friday 28th & Saturday 29th February, 7.30pm

This annual platform features different companies in new work that is often explosive, moving and thought provoking.  This year’s companies are Amy Foskett Dance in Burning House, Thomas Page Dances in Commonality, and Drishti Dance in Sanket.  Find further information about the programme and how to book here

Festival Launch:  Westgate Centre, Saturday 29th February 12pm-5.00pm

A vibrant afternoon of free dance performances from professionals and local youth dance groups, including Infuse Dance’s BodyGuards, Step2Dance, Messy Jam, TPD Young Artists, Kapow Dance Circus Theatre, Pro-Motion and a special preview of Neon Dance‘s show Puzzle Creature.  Find out more here

Neon Dance Puzzle Creature: Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Sunday 1st March at 11.00am, 12.00pm, 1.00pm, 2.00pm, 3.00pm, complete performance 7.00pm

Experience 10 minute excerpts or a complete performance of this remarkable immersive contemporary dance piece from creative director Adrienne Hart, composer Sebastian Reynolds, designers Numen/For Use, and three exceptional dance artists. Find out more about the evening performance here, and afternoon Encounters here, and read Jenny Parrot’s report of the complete show in a recent performance here

Let’s All Dance Sleeping Beauty: Cornerstone Arts Centre Didcot, Sunday 1st March 1.00pm & 3.00pm

A family friendly version of this much loved ballet with Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous music, talented young dancers and gorgeous costumes.  Find out more here

Joelle Pappas Nocturne:  St Nicholas Church, Abingdon, Sunday 1st March 3.00pm

Lyrical contemporary dance from Oxford dance artist Joelle Pappas inspired by sculptures of Camille Claudel in a programme of French music and song with Diana Hinds (pianist) and Rory Carver (tenor).  Find out more here, and read Maggie Watson’s review of this atmospheric show here

Gecko and Mind the Gap in A Little Space:  Oxford Playhouse, Tuesday 3rd & Wednesday 4th March 7.30pm

Physical theatre company Gecko and performers from Mind the Gap, one of Europe’s leading learning disability theatre companies, come together in an exciting new show with stunning visual imagery.  Find out more here

Richard Chappell Dance Still Touch:  Pegasus Theatre, Friday 6th March 7.30pm

Choreographer Richard Chappell has collaborated with sculptor Anna Gillespie in an evocative work which explores touch through the relationship between three dancers and three life-size sculptures, find out more about this fascinating project here

Sonia Sabri Dance Same Same… but Different: The North Wall, Saturday 7th March 2.00pm

Another family show combining Kathak, hip hop, contemporary and street dance with live music and physical storytelling; playful and feel-good.  Find details here

Enjoy!

Facing a storm, be it meteorological or manmade, there are various responses, innate, considered or irrational, that people make – do nothing, batten down, evacuate, even chase, watching cloud formations or personal interactions, trying to comprehend the imminent impact. The publicity for The Storm from James Wilton Dance company asked, “In this storm can you find peace?”

Heading to Oxford Playhouse, then, a front of questions loomed. With the unavoidable political and environmental contexts, foremost was what type of storm was this? We were told only to expect seven contemporary dancers “combining acrobatics, break dancing and martial arts to specially composed thundering electro-rock”; what transpired to this viewer was a storm of human dimensions. (more…)

Award-winning dance company, Ballet Black, returns to Oxford Playhouse on Friday 1 November 2019 with a triple bill of bold and inventive choreography.

The exciting programme contrasts inventive story telling in a lively showcase of three modern ballets, commissioned especially for Ballet Black. Ingoma (song) by company dancer and choreographer Mthuthuzeli November, is a fusion of ballet, African dance and singing. This world premiere and Barbican co-commission portrays a milestone in South African history and imagines the struggles of black South African miners and their families in 1946 – when 60,000 of them took courageous strike action.

The second ballet is a revival of Martin Lawrance’s Pendulum, an intimate duo premiered in 2009, and the choreographer’s first work for the company. CLICK!, an original, up-beat piece by Scottish Ballet’s chorographer-in-residence Sophie Laplane, also a world premiere, completes the triple bill.

Performance:  Friday 1st November 8.00pm

Venue:  Oxford Playhouse, 11-12 Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW

Tickets: £10 to £25 | Discounts available  Book online here or call the Box Office on 01865 305305

Age guideline: 7+ (more…)