ODF Presents… at The Old Fire Station is becoming a crucial annual fixture in Oxford’s dance calendar, showing new works (in-progress) developed with the support of Oxford Dance Forum.  In this year’s edition Ségolène Tarte, Ajos Dance and Scarlett Turner invite you into their world of movement, music and storytelling, offering a preview of eclectic and mesmerising new works:

Ajos Dance & Company‘s Payson is inspired by the Philippine traditional art of chanting epic poems about the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Fusing Filipino arts culture with western contemporary dance, the work is a cross-art collaboration between dancers and live musicians.  Payson is a colourful and dramatic new celebration directed and choreographed by JJ Formento with dance artist Samantha Harper-Robins and musician Gendy Nicolson and her Oxford-based Filipino band members.  Ajos Dance is a social enterprise fighting poverty in the Philippines through education, arts and local community projects.

Scarlett Turner‘s Come as You Are is a solo piece exploring gender neutrality, obscure sexuality and personal identity.  Scarlett Turner identifies the self struggles of gender stereotypes, non-binary and pan sexual identity through personal experiences from childhood to adulthood.  This solo investigates statement of social identity through contemporary dance, spoken word and live imagery.

Imagine an intimate mythology unfolding through classical form and everyday objects. In her new piece Body-No-Body, set to an excerpt of Simeon ten Holt’s hypnotic Canto Ostinato, Oxford based dance artist Ségolène Tarte invites audiences to take a fresh look at ballet and butoh, and at their emotional eloquence.  With this poignant performance meandering between mystical reverence, angst and enlightenment, the dancer shapes a strange universe and is shaped by it.  Let yourself slip into this mysterious yet familiar world… be transported, charmed, moved by a constellation of delicate hesitant steps, balletic grace and pure expressive movement

“ODF Presents…” is part of a three-year Arts Council England funded professional development programme ‘Evolution’ – which aims to support artists in the development of their own artistic practice and the creation of new work.

Performance:  Saturday 14th July 7.30pm

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

Tickets:  £10, £8 concessions

Call 01865 263990 or book online here

Find out more about Oxford Dance Forum here

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In the intimate setting of The North Wall Arts Centre (Oxford), choreographer Ben Wright’s bgroup, in collaboration with the independent theatre studio China Plate, presented a new piece of dance theatre “Point of Echoes”, commissioned by the Rural Touring Dance Initiative (a newly funded initiative aiming to bring contemporary dance to rural areas).

The performance space is a circular and waist-high wooden platform with two slowly slopping access ramps on its outside; it is surrounded at the north and south ends by 4 rows of seats and to the east and west by seat-free galleries. Immediately upon entering, we are intrigued. (more…)

A reminder of the forthcoming Dance Scratch Night presented by Oxford Dance Forum (ODF) in partnership with Arts at the Old Fire Station) on 27th March.  These occasions provide a great opportunity to see work-in-progress by local dancers and groups, and contribute to a feedback discussion with the artists (guided by a facilitator).  Most of the artists presenting are recipients of ODF financial support (through the Evolution programme), which has helped them to develop these dances.

This occasion includes pieces by Ségolène Tarte, Smidgen Dance Company, Jenny Parrott & Unlock the Chains Collective.

Do come along to support the artists, and enjoy a great evening of emerging dance.

Performance:  Tuesday 27th March, 7.30pm

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

Tickets:  £5 through the OFS box office in advance online here or on the door.

Fresh from performances at the Cheltenham Festival Joëlle Pappas‘ latest exciting choreographic project in collaboration with evolutionary scientist Yan Wong comes to Oxford for open air performances.  Dancing the Tree of Life, a piece for 7 dancers and 1 musician, is loosely based on Richard Dawkins and Yan Wong’s 2016 book The Ancestor’s Tale, a comprehensive journey through the evolution of all life on earth.  The cast includes the Oxford-based dancers Melissa Bori, JJ Formento and Ségolène Tarte.
All the events are free!

Performances: Saturday 2nd July
1.30pm in Broad Street
3.00pm on the lawn at the Museum of Natural History, in Parks Road….weather permitting
4.00pm inside the Museum of Natural History

Joëlle and Yan will also be talking about their dance/science collaboration at 5.15 pm in the Museum of Natural History

All performances are free of charge.

The Ancestor’s Tale (2nd edn) is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, find out about it here and ways to purchase it here

Find out about Joëlle Pappas’ work here

Scholarly, artistic and professional, Avid for Ovid’s highly original creative work was on show in a series of performances as part of the Ashmolean’s wildly popular sell-out DeadFriday Halloween happening.

Accompanied by Malcolm Atkins, dancers Susie Crow, Marie-Louise Crawley and Ségolène Tarte used Roman pantomime to explore the grief and horror of death. As we sat on the floor of the Cast Gallery, a line of candles marking the edge of the performance area like footlights, we saw expressions of human and beyond-human emotion, the quality of each experience being powerfully affected by whether or not the dancers wore masks. Crow, who was unmasked, gave a profoundly moving portrayal of Aurora grieving for her son Memnon that fell firmly within the range of human empathy. On the other hand, when the dancers wore masks, Crawley’s dread-inspiring transformation into a tree and Tarte’s terrifying embodiment of a werewolf seemed almost to pierce the veil that hangs between the natural and the supernatural.

Among the academic papers, craft workshops, musical performances and a theatrical re-enactment of a Roman funeral, Avid for Ovid evoked both pity and terror in its audience: the ultimate Halloween experience.

Maggie Watson

1 November 2015

Getting a ticket to a dance programme arouses comfortable expectations of pleasure – of colour, patterning and conformity. In Oxford’s Burton Taylor studio last week, Donald Hutera’s GOlive programme was satisfyingly full of all of these – but it was also never predictable, oddly fragmented and often deeply unsettling. And in my head the after-images are of faces as much as of body shapes – a heat of emotional impact – a sense of hope – a touch of catharsis.

The very ordering of the programme forced strange juxtapositions. It began with what Shane Shambhu described as his “lecture-demonstration” – a cogent dance drama through which his personal narrative wove a coherent thread. Twenty-seven years of bharatanatyam dance gave his work an assured technical underpinning. But it was its immediacy and variety that made it so accessible to academic, pensioner and child in the fifty-strong studio audience. For this was a narrative that flowed by Nritta – by taps and clicks and thumps – through sounds vocal and guttural – as well as by the mime and dance of Natya, the shifting registers of formal delivery, of conversational English, of interactive name games and the musicality of Shane’s native Kerala tongue. Never before have I been more aware of dance as one member of so intimately interconnected a family of languages. (more…)

The GOlive Dance and Performance Festival has built an enviable reputation for breaking the rules in the mere two years since veteran dance/theatre critic Donald Hutera (the Times) first applied his encyclopaedic knowledge of international arts to curating a playful eclectic programme of performances for small spaces.  This year following a season at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town in June GOlive goes on tour, with performances in Oxford and Winchester.  Featuring performers from Oxford and across the UK in the Burton Taylor Studio’s intimate setting, GOlive Oxford offers something for all lovers of dance in two programmes over four days.  If ya gotta go, GOlive!

“If it’s worth seeing, Hutera has seen it”  METRO

“…it might be the piece that hooks you forever…” Luke Jennings, The Observer (more…)