The Dancing Lives conference at Wolfson College offered an exceptional opportunity for archivists, academics and dance practitioners to discuss and discover new ways to research and write about dance and dancers’ lives.

The speakers for first panel, on Historical Dancing, demonstrated the vast range of material that dance historians draw upon to investigate the past. Mike Webb and Jennifer Thorp used Jeffrey Boys’s manuscript annotations in his almanac of 1667 to paint a picture of the social dancing scene in seventeenth century London; Michael Burden used caricatures vividly to recreate and interpret the scandalous adventures of Mademoiselle Mercandotti, and Julia Bührle showed how the technological invention of the lithograph helped to make Marie Taglioni a ‘superstar’. While the first four speakers showed how creatively scholars use documents, images and ephemera to advance our knowledge, the plenary session, in which Sue Jones expertly interviewed Jennifer Homans, began to explore what the dance itself can reveal. (more…)

How do people write about the lives of dancers and choreographers?  How does dance as a silent form represent life stories?  The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing and Dance Scholarship Oxford (DANSOX) are hosting a one-day colloquium Dancing Lives on Saturday 8th July exploring this.  The day will feature: Jennifer Homans, Founder and Director of The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University, in conversation with Professor Sue Jones; Dame Monica Mason, former ballet dancer, teacher, and artistic director of the Royal Ballet, on travelling and dancing; contributions from Michael Burden, Mike Webb, Jennifer Thorp, Jane Pritchard, Judith Mackrell, Michael Huxley, Funmi Adewole, and Ramsay Burt; and a closing performance by Simone Damberg Würtz & Liam Francis from the Rambert Contemporary Dance Company.

Date:  Saturday 8th July, 9.00am-6.30pm

Venue:  Wolfson College, Linton Road, Oxford OX2 6UD

Tickets:  £20, or £10 for unwaged delegates. Booking here: http://bit.ly/OCLW-Dance

There are a small number of B&B rooms available at Wolfson College for 7th and 8th July. These can be booked here using the Promotional Code: DANCE2017

For more details please contact The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing here

Download the full colloquium programme here

Rambert’s adventurous programme shows a commitment to new work and artistic collaboration that gloriously affirms the company’s long heritage and roots in the post-Diaghilev dance diaspora.  The evening opened with Kim Brandstrup’s Transfigured Night, followed by Didy Veldman’s The 3 Dancers, and concluded with a revival of Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances. Live musical accompaniment was intrinsic to the immediacy and vigour throughout.

Brandstrup’s study of painful choices as a couple’s relationship teeters on the brink of failure courageously uses the music (Arnold Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht) that Antony Tudor chose for his ballet Pillar of Fire, but his conception is original and completely different from Tudor’s. (more…)

Kim Brandstrup’s residency at St Hilda’s last week was a rare opportunity to observe part of the process of creating new dances through a series of open workshops and two ‘showings’. When I crept into the Gallery of the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building on Tuesday the atmosphere below was quiet and studious. Brandstrup sat on the edge of the stage. Behind him, dancer Liam Francis was silently stretching, curling and extending his body, waiting his turn, while Simone Damberg Würtz and Tobias Praetorius used the specially-laid dance floor to work on a duet. It gradually became apparent that the dancers, the choreographer and cellist and composer Oliver Coates were collaboratively investigating questions about the relationship between rhythm, music and dance. (more…)

Inspired by a painting, a poem, Bach, Stravinsky, Schoenberg and the CERN Hadron Collider, Rambert’s exciting and innovative triple bill showed how choreographers can start from utterly different places.

Rambert has a scientist in residence (Professor Nicola S. Clayton), but it was artist Katie Paterson who took Mark Baldwin to CERN, where he found out about the properties of quarks. The Strange Charm of Mother Nature is a virtuoso dance piece in two movements; the first, to Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks, gives us slow duets, set against dancers who ricochet across the stage like neutron stars; the second, to Bach’s third Brandenburg Concerto, bursts through space in a blaze of colour with spectacular spins and leaps, the embodiment of cosmic energy, yet strangely cool and scientific. (more…)