It is that time of the year again, suddenly Christmas is looming with urgent gift shopping imperatives.  But don’t worry, once again Oxford Dance Writers is here to help with our round up of dance publications reviewed and received this year, from the highly academic and practical to the entertaining memoir and gorgeously illustrated records of companies and dancers; for the dance lovers in your lives, or to add to your own Christmas wish list…  Great thanks once again to all our reviewers! (more…)

Yorke Dance Project’s innovative programme at The Mill Arts Centre was an exceptional and exciting opportunity to see both new work and a rarely performed twentieth century ballet.

Sea of Troubles, inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which Kenneth MacMillan created for Dance Advance in 1988, has been reconstructed by its notator Jane Elliott and rehearsed by Susie Crow, who was one of the original cast. Breaking free from the constraint of strict narrative structure, MacMillan’s barefoot ballet explores the psychological trauma that lies beneath the surface of the play as Hamlet, an embodiment of the ‘outsider’, is tormented by the need for revenge. Dancers must turn on an emotional sixpence as they share roles, representing first one character and then another, to music that, unusually for ballets of the nineteen-eighties, ‘spliced’ together pieces by different composers (Anton Von Webern and Bohuslav Martinu). (more…)

Angela Pickard roots this thought-provoking study in her own experience of ballet training, opening with a frank and vivid personal account of her absorption as child and teenager into the world of ballet practice, embracing her gradual embodiment as a ballet dancer.   Following a twenty year professional dancing career, now an academic she reflects on the formation of her own identity; the research that generated this book in addition to her own lived experience is a four year longitudinal study of adolescent ballet students as they develop in vocational schools in the north and south of England. Her ethnographic approach combining observation and interview draws largely on the testimonies of 12 young dancers as to their experiences of both pain and pleasure, in her desire to give a voice to their emerging senses of identity between the ages of 10 and 18 years. (more…)

Women GOLive has continued to surprise, excite and entertain Oxford audiences with eclectic but well chosen performances of highly original work. The second and third nights of this four-night run included traditional and experimental South Asian dance from Arunima Kumar and Anuradha Chaturvedi, new contemporary dance works from visiting artist Salah El Brogy and Welsh company Ffin Dance (who bravely gave new takes on iconic music), a fresh work from Hanna Wroblewski, Mara Vivas’ and My Johansson’s interactive performance installation, and humour from Sarah Kent and Aliki Mbakoyianni. A terrific line-up. (more…)

Another exploratory, innovative and exciting programme of original dance work has just been presented at Oxford’s Old Fire Station Theatre under the aegis of Donald Hutera. Hutera’s remarkable ability to gather together able but neglected choreographic skills and to present them in a continually-changing four-day programme has already been demonstrated at the nearby Burton Taylor Studio. On this latest occasion, however, despite there being no diminution in the range of remarkably distinctive approaches on offer, the overall impact was far more cohesive.

For this three elements seem primarily responsible. The first is the universality of the myth and legend on which much of the work draws; the second is the power – on a bare stage – of the overall visual impact of each of these pieces, and the third is the extraordinary range of emotional intensity evoked by the quality of these performances – drawing chuckles and tears and the long silence of chastened realisation that precedes the best appreciative applause. (more…)

Women GOlive is a showcase of dance by female performers – and men are welcome too!  Kicking off next Wednesday, 13 July, the mini-festival hosted by Arts at the Old Fire Station features some of the best talent around.  Curator and Times dance critic Donald Hutera has assembled a four-day line-up of short works for intimate spaces, cherry-picking four enticingly varied evenings of multi-generational talent from the UK and abroad, mainly but not exclusively the work of a group of fascinating and independent female artists. Local performers Ana Barbour, Susie Crow, Cecilia Macfarlane, Anuradha Chaturvedi, Jane Connelly, Anja Meinhardt and Roosa Leimu-Brown are joined by national and international names such as Jemima Foxtrot and Mara Vivas.   Performances will be refreshingly unconventional and always eclectic: expect the unexpected!

Performances:  Wednesday 13th – Saturday 16th July 7.30pm

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

Tickets:  £10/£8 from www.ticketsoxford.com or 01865 305305.

Programme:

Wed 13th:  Ana Barbour, Jane Connelly (Smidgen Dance Company), Lorna V, Richard Chappell, Susan Kempster, and Jemima Foxtrot

Thurs 14th: Lorna V, Ana Barbour, Arunima Kumar, Susie Crow (Avid for Ovid), Salah El-Brogy, Sarah Kent (Dysfunctional Dance), and Hanna Wroblewski

Fri 15th:  Lorna V, Susie Crow, Sarah Kent, Mara Vivas with My Johansson,  Anuradha Chaturvedi Seth, and Sue Lewis (Ffin Dance)

Sat 16th: Lorna V, Mara Vivas with My Johansson, Sarah Kent, Sue Lewis (Ffin Dance), Anja Meinhardt (Justice in Motion) with Roosa Leimu-Brown

More programme information here: www.oldfirestation.org.uk | 01865 263980

 

 

Dance enthusiast Katrina Strathearn was looking for a way to continue dancing following illness and despite a complicated work schedule.  Here she writes about her experience of a ballet based online training programme, Sleek Technique:

I have found the best way to exercise – it’s easy to commit to, gets results, and I can wear my robe before and after class.

In December 2013, I was suffering from Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome (a cousin of Chronic Fatigue) and was looking for a way to maintain some of the dance fitness I once had in a measured, bite-sized way.  Having danced from the age of 13 and covered styles from jazz ballet and tap, to hip hop, salsa, jive and Zumba, I knew that dance was the type of exercise that I enjoyed most, and that gave me the best results for my body type.  But there were a few obstacles in the way.  (more…)