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…)

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Dance? Mime? Theatre? Peut-Etre . . .

When I was asked to review a children’s show called Tidy Up, I immediately anticipated an hour or so of theatrical fun. I also gleefully anticipated that my children, aged five and nine, would receive a subliminal message that tidiness is COOL! I was not disappointed.

The three Tidy Up performers had a giggling North Wall audience in the palms of their hands from the very beginning, accompanying the slapping of their hands on their bottoms with cheeky, over the shoulder winks. With the performers enjoying themselves, the fun was infectious. (more…)

Delighted to welcome Nicholas Minns, whose thoughtful blog writingaboutdance is a must-read for those interested in current dance performance of all kinds, as a guest reviewer for Oxford Dance Writers during this year’s Dancin’ Oxford Festival.  Here is his take on Ad Infinitum’s Translunar Paradise at the North Wall last week.

As part of its tenth anniversary celebrations, Bristol-based Theatre Ad Infinitum is touring two works, Odyssey (2009) and Translunar Paradise (2011). Each show takes up a full evening slot, so it was only the latter work we saw on the second night at The North Wall in Oxford. It’s always a pleasure to have the opportunity to see a Lecoq-trained mime company though a little unexpected in a line-up of the Spring Dance Festival programmed by Dancin’ Oxford, ‘the leading dance organization in Oxfordshire’ that ‘significantly raises the profile and visibility of dance in the city’. Hmmm.

Theatre Ad Infinitum’s co-artistic director George Mann wrote and directed Translunar Paradise and he also plays the role of William, a widower who finds it hard to let go of the memories of his late wife, Rose (Deborah Pugh). It is clearly something close to his heart, for the playing out of the story is infused with a sense of detail and empathy that come from close observation. (more…)

dotdotdot dance uses flamenco as a medium to create innovative dance, challenge conventional perceptions and explore how traditional flamenco can be expressed in a contemporary context.  In No Frills, they set out to strip flamenco down to its bare essence to access and express the raw and nuanced energy that is awoken in both performer and spectator.

The North Wall are delighted to welcome back Yinka Esi Graves, Noemí Luz and Magdalena Mannion of dotdotdot dance once again following the sell-out success of their show in 2015.  Don’t miss this opportunity to experience these superb dancers and musicians in authoritative and expressive performance.  Read Susie Crow’s previous review of No Frills here

Performance:  Friday 29th September, 8pm

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

Tickets:  £16/£13 concessions/£10 members
Book online: https://www.thenorthwall.com/whats-on/no-frills/

PLUS Flamenco Taster Workshop – 5.30pm-6.30pm
£10 per person
Email dotdotdotflamenco@gmail.com for more details

My interest was piqued by the chance to watch a dance piece exploring issues of oppression with our current cultural context as a narrative backdrop to hold in my mind – as well as wearing multiple hats: dancer, student of psychology and working in medical research. I wondered how dance as an art form rooted in movement can offer space to explore, express, embody and perhaps come to terms with oppressive situations. How can oppression be conveyed in essence?

We are living in social and political instability resulting from the particular moment, embedded in history. It seems reasonable to propose that people of less privileged demographics – in increasing numbers and inequality – are disenfranchised, feel excluded from opportunities or have experienced discrimination from ruling class decision-making. From narrowing school curriculums, our precarious gig economy, public service and infrastructure funding cuts, NHS privatisation or divisive Brexit strategies, to name but a few examples close to home.  The repercussions of such circumstances include levels of oppression that have psychological consequences such as depression.  (more…)

C-A-G-E-D performed by  Thomas Page Dances was a thought-provoking performance from a young choreographer who clearly has some strong ideas, and a company of very capable dancers.

In terms of the tone of the movement, there were some effective sections including the very start of the piece, and much of the second half – these showed a contrast between sharp, almost robotic accents and sinuous, natural movements.  These were, for me, the most interesting moments: the choreography developing organically and looking almost improvised, rather than the more gymnastic cartwheels and rolls at other points which felt a little engineered and out of place.  There was a very clear sense of strong emotions being portrayed, in particular panic, anxiety, a palpable tension, and loneliness and isolation. (more…)

Following an intriguing sample of work shown at the recent Dance Scratch Night at Arts at the Old Fire Station, Thomas Page Dances comes to The North Wall to present the restaging of their debut work C-A-G-E-D: a series of events questioning, challenging and deconstructing the preconceived idea of oppression.  Exploring the psychology of oppressive events in individual, social and anatomical constructs through the medium of contemporary dance, the work questions to what extent is the cause of oppression inflicted by the oppressor or the oppressed.  Including original scores, with emerging dance artists directed in an interdisciplinary style from an up and coming choreographer, this work is set to be a melting pot of creativity from fresh talent.

Performances:  Thursday 6th and Friday 7th July 7.30pm

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

Tickets:  £10, £8 concessions.  A transaction fee of £2 per booking will be applied to customers paying in person or over the phone with a credit or debit card (capped at £1 for a single ticket).

Book tickets online here or call the Box Office on 01865 319450

Read Emily May’s report of C-A-G-E-D in performance at the Laban Centre in 2016 here