Dance Scholarship Oxford (DANSOX) hosts no less than three exciting summer intensives this July. International artists, writers, choreographers and guests explore themes of creativity and dance-making in relation to other arts. Alice Oswald and Saju Hari explore epic through different media; Thomas Page Dances develops current research on Commonalities; emerging dancers at Rambert School and the Royal Scottish Conservatoire make new dance narratives by and about women.  Guest lecturers include international dance critic Alastair Macaulay and eminent biographer Lyndall Gordon. Visitors are welcome to drop in at any time to watch the processes unfolding, but do book places for the public sharing events listed below.

Venue: Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Cowley Place, Oxford OX4 1DY

Alice Oswald with Saju Hari and Dancers 11th-14th July

Oxford’s Professor of Poetry Alice Oswald collaborates with internationally renowned contemporary Indian dance and martial arts expert Saju Hari, developing work for the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama All-Night Epic project to come in 2023.

Public Sharing including Q&A: 14th July 5.30pm

Thomas Page Dances: Commonalities 15th-20th July

Thomas Page Dances develops new dance work and discusses the themes of commonality in relation to dance theories, histories and practice.

Public Keynote Guest Lecture given by Alastair Macaulay: ‘Commonalities, Communities, Utopia’ 15th July 11.30am

Public Sharing of the work with Thomas Page Dances including Q&A: 20th July 5.30pm

Deborah Norris, Rambert School and Guests: Women and Choreography 21st-25th July

This exciting choreographic intensive brings together a group of students of the Rambert School and the Royal Scottish Conservatoire in classes and workshops with guest teachers, and to make new work.

Public Keynote Guest Lecture given by Lyndall Gordon: Charlotte Brontë (Villette) 21st July 5.30pm

Public Sharing of Woman-Made! An evening of new short ballets created by women including Q&A

25th July 5.30pm

To book for Keynote Lectures and Public Sharing events please email Professor Sue Jones here

Dance Scholarship Oxford (DANSOX) and TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities) collaborate to present Day of Dance: Transnational Conversations, a rich mix of dance practice, research and discussion involving leading dance artists and distinguished scholars, and centring on Bronislava Nijinska‘s seminal work Les Noces.

Programme:

10.00am-12.00pm Welcome and Liam Francis choreography session – making new work.

1.15-2.00pm Keynote: Jane Pritchard on Nijinska’s Les Noces

Throughout the day from 1.00pm- 6.00pm, those attending can drop in on a showing of Future Rites by Alexander Whitley Dance Company in the Rooftop Suite

2.05-2.50pm Deirdre Chapman leads dancers in a demonstration and workshop of choreography from Les Noces

3.00-3.30pm Marcus Bell presentation Rites of Spring

3.30-4.00pm Meindert Peters presentation Kafka and Arthur Pita

4.00-4.30pm Hélène Neveu Kringelbach presentation Avant-garde dance in Senegal

5.00-6.00pm Book launch of Lynn Garafola‘s biography La Nijinska: Choreographer of the Modern with Judith Mackrell

6.10-7.15pm Keynote: Alexander Whitley on Future Rites? with dancers, followed by discussion

7.15pm Reception

Date: Friday 10th June 10.00am-7.45pm

Venue: Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Cowley Place, OX4 1DY

Tickets: Free of charge; to register for the event please use this link.

If you would like to watch the livestream of the day please use this link.

For further info please contact susan.jones@ell.ox.ac.uk & marcus.bell@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk

Finally, if you would like to attend the inaugural meeting of TORCH Network
Britain and the Soviet Union: Cultural Encounters you can sign up for a group discussion led by Gabriela Minden – on the London performances of Les Noces by Ballets Russes in June 1926, a month after the General Strike – by following this link.

The final event in Dance Scholarship Oxford’s current series Interrogating the Dance ‘Classics’ is a discussion with Dr Arabella Stanger of her new book Dancing on Violent Ground: Utopia as Dispossession in Euro-American Theater Dance. This fascinating and thought-provoking event is free and open to all, but seats are limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, so advance booking is essential. It will also be live streamed, and available to watch after the event.

Date: Tuesday 19th April 5.30pm BST

Venue: Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Cowley Place, Oxford OX4 1DY

Booking: To register for this event please email Professor Sue Jones or Marcus Bell

Find out more about DANSOX here

Alastair Macaulay delivered the first face-to-face DANSOX lecture of 2022 against a background of loss and tragedy.  The loss was the death of the critic Clement Crisp at the age of 95; the tragedy, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.  Macaulay dedicated his lecture to the memory of the former, and  acknowledged his initial difficulty in speaking to a topic that might have seemed trivial against the background of the latter. 

He then delivered a talk that proved quite the opposite.  Taking inspiration from Arlene Croce’s assertion in 1973 that ‘Swan Lake is not a drama about birds – it’s a drama about freedom’, Macaulay cogently argued that it is a ballet about power and subjugation; bondage and liberation; trust and betrayal, which extends beyond the personal tragedies of Odette and Siegfried into the wider social and political domain.

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DANSOX (Dance Scholarship Oxford) and TORCH (The Oxford Centre for Research in the Humanities) join forces to present Yorke Dance Project in a moving tribute to Sir Robert Cohan, as an extension to The Grace Project, continuing the discussion “Dance as Grace: Paradoxes and Possibilities”. Director Yolande Yorke-Edgell will present Cohan’s ideas on grace. On 28th October dancers from the Company will show excerpts from Cohan’s works Canciones del alma and Communion, followed by discussion. On 29th October Yolande Yorke-Edgell will dance, and there will be a special screening of Cohan’s lockdown project – Lockdown Portraits – the last series of solos he created – followed by a discussion with the director of the film.

Dates: Thursday 28th October 4.00-6.00pm, Friday 29th October 4.00-6.00pm

Venue: Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Oxford OX4 1DY

Tickets: Admission free, but numbers limited for social distancing: book to reserve a seat by emailing susan.jones@ell.ox.ac.uk
and copying in marcus.bell@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk

The third annual DANSOX summer school was a scholarly investigation into the relationship between dance and inscription.  It treated both concepts in the broadest sense: ‘dance’ encompassed Western movement styles ranging from the Baroque to the contemporary; ‘inscription’ embraced not only the written word and notation, but also the traces preserved in art, photography, film and the dancing body itself.  The format was hybrid, with a small socially distanced audience present in the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, and a recorded live stream for external participants.

Alastair Macaulay’s opening lecture looked at literary sources of inspiration for dance and the role of notation in protecting, preserving, and challenging our perceptions of works.  Macaulay’s wide ranging discussion, liberally illustrated with film clips and photographs, raised themes developed in the subsequent lectures and dance workshops.  He noted the subtle ways in which choreographers such as Merce Cunningham have drawn on a literary sources, and cited Pam Tanowitz’ interweaving of dance, music and poetry in her Four Quartets.  Macaulay also discussed the ways in which dances change over time; the problems and inadequacies of recordings; the significance of context, and the readability or otherwise of notation, whether that of Vladimir Stepanov or Vaslav Nijinsky.

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During July a week-long summer residency sponsored by TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) and supported by DANSOX and APGRD (Archive of Performance of Greek and Roman Drama) took place in the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. Curated by Marina Warner the residency brought together international choreographer Kim Brandstrup and two renowned dancers, Laurel Dalley Smith and Liam Riddick to develop a new dance-piece Cupid and Psyche with commissioned score by Edmund Finnis as part of the Dancing with Apollo project, originally devised by violinist Sara Trickey.

Read Professor Sue Jones‘ account of the project here

And view a short film of the residency made by Rocio Chacon now available to view on YouTube here

DANSOX Summer Programme 2021 continues…

DANSOX invites you to a sharing of new choreography Sum Dance – A Collaborative Response by renowned Rambert dancers, Liam Francis and Simone Damberg Würtz.

Date: Sunday 22nd August 2pm.

Venue: Jacqueline du Pre Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Cowley Pl, Oxford OX4 1DY

No charge, but limited seating, so please rsvp susan.jones@ell.ox.ac.uk and
cc marcus.bell@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk to confirm a place.

You are welcome to drop in to watch the making of the work any day/time between 17th and 22nd August but please email us first (Covid rules).

DANSOX looks forward to welcoming you during the week or for an after-lunch Sunday treat.

Find out more about DANSOX here

Watch previous DANSOX events on the DANSOX YouTube channel here

The Grace Project is an interdisciplinary investigation into the concept of ‘grace’ in all its forms, which evolved from the research of Professor Sue Jones on literature and dance.  Grace has been central to the development of dance aesthetics, but it has also been challenged by practitioners of modern and contemporary dance.  These two seminars, which were attended by socially-distanced groups of academics, practitioners and interested local people, interrogated the question of what constitutes grace by examining five contrasting dances performed by, and discussed with, members of the Yorke Dance Project led by Yolande Yorke-Edgell.

The dancers presented works by Robert Cohan, Kenneth MacMillan and Yorke-Edgell, the latter consciously channelling the influences of Richard Alston and Bella Lewitzky (who was herself influenced by the choreographer Lester Horton).

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“Modern dance is a bottomless pit of possibilities and I have only scratched the surface” (Paul Taylor)

This year’s DANSOX Summer School was, of course, conducted online. At a time when the coronavirus has made us acutely aware of our bodily fragility, I was particularly struck by a focus on the corporeal in these seven lectures, the first two concentrating on American choreographer Paul Taylor, the second of which is discussed in detail here. All of the lectures remain available on YouTube via the St Hilda’s website.

I must confess to not having heard of Taylor – but was relieved to hear from the webinar that followed that I was not alone. As well as Alastair Macauley’s guest lecture, I highly recommend his obituary of Taylor in the New York Times – the comments are a joy to read and show how highly regarded Taylor was in his native land. (more…)