DANSOX (Dance Scholarship Oxford) enters 2022 with a fascinating thematic programme of events over the Hilary (Spring) term. Interrogating the Dance ‘Classics’ began with a sparkling occasion on 25th January bringing together Dame Monica Mason (former principal dancer and Artistic Director of the Royal Ballet) with Jane Pritchard, Dance Archivist at the Victoria and Albert Museum. They talked about The Sleeping Princess and The Sleeping Beauty in the centenary year of the first performances of Diaghilev’s legendary production of The Sleeping Princess in London, bringing the history of this seminal Petipa work and its influence on ballet in Britain up to the present day. Forthcoming events include:

Monday 7th February 1.00-2.30 GMT online

Marcus Bell (St Hilda’s, Oxford) and Marie-Louise Crawley (Coventry) – Listening to Grace: Embodying Hidden Pasts, Imagining Just Futures. This joint presentation and discussion forms part of the ongoing DANSOX/TORCH series Dance as Grace: Paradoxes and Possibilities

Wednesday 2nd March 5.30-7.00pm GMT in person at the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Cowley Place, Oxford OX4 1DY

Alastair Macaulay, international writer and critic – Swan Lake

Attend in person or watch the live stream here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uoVO76hjZc

Tuesday 19th April 5.30-7.00pm BST in person at the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building

Arabella Stanger (Sussex) – Dancing on Violent Ground: Utopia as Dispossession in Euro-American Theater Dance

For online joining links and enquiries please contact susan.jones@ell.ox.ac.uk and marcus.bell@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk.

Unless otherwise stated all DANSOX events are free and open to all; if held in person the event will be followed by refreshments.

All future in-person events may be moved online subject to COVID19 precautions.

Find out about DANSOX here and watch videos of past events here

This was a beautifully planned evening of song, readings and dance, culminating in a performance of Franz Liszt’s Après une lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi sonata. Presented by the Oxford Dante Society to mark the 700th anniversary of the death of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri, it formed part of a season of Dante themed activities programmed and supported by TORCH, The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, as part of their Humanities Cultural Programme.  There were some last minute changes: tenor Seb Hill had stepped in overnight learning three solos at short notice, and speaker Anthony Hunt was unable to attend; his essay was read by pianist Jonathan Katz, who devised the event and also acted as an informal master of ceremonies.

The programme included two original dances, created with the support of DANSOX, Dance Scholarship Oxford.  The first was ‘That even I’, a solo created with movement direction by Estela Merlos and danced by Thomasin Gülgeç to music by Joseph Kay made by sampling extracts of spoken word.  Merlos, Gülgeç and Kay have worked together before, notably at the DANSOX 2021 summer school, and this piece seemed a logical development of work they showed then, in respect of its intensity, the dancer’s close attentiveness to the score, and the sense that the work had grown as an organic whole.

The second dance, ‘In a dark wood’, a duo choreographed by Susie Crow to music by Jeremy Thurlow, conjured up Dante’s wanderings through the forest at the beginning of Canto 1 of the Inferno, initially alone and then under the tutelage of  Virgil.  Cameron Everitt, as Dante, seemed to move aside invisible curtains of foliage, weaving his way beneath branches until he encountered Virgil, a severe but charismatic figure danced by Nicholas Minns.  At the end, the two made a stately geometric progress, exchanging places in a square pattern, as if Virgil were formally opening the way for Dante to go through a door, and leading him further on. 

The tiny floor area in a fully lit hall with the audience looking down from above was a very exposed stage for all three dancers.  Gülgeç, Everitt and Minns were within touching distance of the spectators, but with their individual and distinctive dance styles, they succeeded in drawing us into their imaginary worlds.

The evening concluded with the Liszt sonata, played by Jonathan Katz, and preceded by Hunt’s introduction, which reminded us that Frederick Ashton used the music for his wartime ballet Dante Sonata; Dante’s poetry has long been an inspiration for dance, and this programme continued that tradition.

This event, and also the Oxford screening and discussion of choreographer Luc Petton’s ballet Ainsi la Nuit for human dancers, birds and animals, have been recorded and will become available on the TORCH YouTube channel.

Maggie Watson

28th November 2021

Find out more about and give your feedback on TORCH’s Dante 2021 Season here

Check out the Ashmolean exhibition Dante: the Invention of Celebrity here

Read Barbara Berrington’s account of a previous Dante programme Dante in the Chapel including choreography by Susie Crow here

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

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

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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An exciting project initiated by Alice Oswald (Professor of Poetry University of Oxford), with dancers Estela Merlos and Thomasin Gulgec, and composer Joseph Kay, in collaboration with Rocio Chacon (film-maker) and Kevin Mount (designer). TORCH is collaborating with the Oxford University English Faculty, Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama (APGRD) and DANSOX (Dance Scholarship Oxford) as part of the Professor of Poetry Lecture Series, to invite participants to be part of a Poetry Performance, taking place at midnight on Monday 30th November. This event is led by Alice Oswald, current Professor of Poetry as part of the Humanities Cultural Programme. 

This event is an immersive experience, with limited availability now sold out. 500 signed up participants will be mailed a special copy of a poem written by Alice Oswald. At the stroke of midnight, participants are invited to open their poem and step outside to read it. If you signed up to receive one of the limited mailed copies of the poem written by Alice Oswald, you should receive this by 30th November. Full details will be found on your mailed poem.

If you were unable to sign up for the mailed copy, you can still enjoy a slightly different experience of the evening. Two copies of the poem will also be sent to two dancers who will be filmed opening and reading the poem, so there will be an online performance via YouTube happening at the same time. The performance will be released via the TORCH Oxford YouTube channel at midnight. Watch the performance here.  

Date: Monday 30th November 11.59pm​

Another fascinating opportunity for discussion springing from the Backstage At The Ballet exhibition at The North Wall.  Researchers Dr Bronwyn Tarr and Joshua Bamford will bring Colin Jones’ photographs to life with an engaging discussion on their creative research into the psychological and physiological effects of dance and movement. Bridging the gap between science and dance – and photograph and the viewer – the conversation will invite the audience to explore how science can help uncover the power of moving with others.

Bronwyn and Joshua are based in The Social Body Lab at the Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford, and both have experience as performers, as well as scientists. They are interested in uncovering the nuts and bolts behind the benefits of being part of a dancing community.

Joshua’s doctoral work aims to understand the social and cognitive processes involved in synchronised movement, through a range of audio-visual perception experiments.

Bronwyn (a TORCH Knowledge Exchange Fellow) is currently exploring how dance-movement therapy might help alleviate loneliness, and is collaborating with local artists to choreograph a performative piece on the embodied experience of feeling alone, and feeling connected.

Date:  Wednesday 4th March, 6.00pm

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

Tickets:  Tickets for this event are free, but spaces are limited. Please email Nicky Laird, Gallery Manager, on lairdn@thenorthwall.com to book.

Further details on Backstage At The Ballet can be found here

Hard on the heels of its recent highly popular event featuring choreographer Kim Brandstrup, DANSOX supported by the Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH) brings another distinguished guest to St Hilda’s Oxford on Thursday 4th June.  Professor Mark Franko, internationally renowned dance scholar of Temple University and Middlesex University, presents an illustrated lecture on The Fascist Legs of Serge Lifar: French Ballet under the Occupation emerging from his recent research on this important and controversial early twentieth-century director and choreographer.  Professor Franko will share fascinating new sources for evaluating Serge Lifar’s life and work during WW2 at the Paris Opera and illuminate the relationship of neo-classicism and dance.

Date:  Thursday 4th June 2015, 5.30-7.00pm

Venue:  Jacqueline du Pré Building, St Hilda’s College, Oxford

This event is free and open to all and will be followed by refreshments.

Booking essential at: https://eventbrite.co.uk/event/16611691015/

You can find more information about DANSOX and TORCH here

The next DANSOX event (supported by The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities, TORCH) brings another distinguished artist to Oxford to St Hilda’s College.  In Mapping Motion: impulse, object and trajectory – reflections on music and choreography, internationally renowned choreographer Kim Brandstrup will conduct a workshop/presentation with Royal Ballet dancers Marcelino Sambé and emerging choreographer Kristen McNally to explore choreographer’s methods and sources.

Music inhabits the mysterious no man’s land between mathematical construction and human emotion – nothing is so abstract in its means and yet so immediate in its effect. Choreography exists in the same sphere, where choreographic choice seems to obey both logics. The creative challenge is to navigate between the two – so that the spectators are never really sure or even aware what drives the piece – whether it is the formal or the human, the conceptual or the narrative – whether all is planned or a product of chance.”  Kim Brandstrup.

Venue: St Hilda’s College, Oxford, Jacqueline du Pré Building

Date:  Tuesday, May 19, 2015 – 5:30pm to 7:00pm

Followed by refreshments

Free and open to all, but booking essential

Book at https://eventbrite.co.uk/event/16378395221/

More information about DANSOX and TORCH here

For its first event of 2015 Dance Scholarship Oxford, DANSOX, presents internationally acclaimed choreographer Wayne McGregor in conversation on the topic of ‘Dance and Neuroscience‘.  Resident Choreographer of the Royal Ballet and Director of Random Dance, McGregor will talk about his choreographic practice with Dr Phil Barnard of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit of Cambridge University, and Arts Producer Eckhard Thiemann.  There will also be an exhibition of the choreographer’s work.  An unmissable opportunity to hear from this influential choreographer whose work Atomos will be performed by his own company Random Dance at the Oxford Playhouse on Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th March as part of this year’s Dancin’ Oxford Festival.

Date:  Tuesday 10th March 2015, 5.30-7.00pm, followed by refreshments.

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

Free and open to all but booking is essential.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dansox-presents-wayne-mcgregor-in-conversation-dance-and-neuroscience-tickets-15217280295

Any queries or for further information, please contact Dr Susan Jones or go to www.torch.ox.ac.uk/dansox

DANSOX is supported by University of Oxford TORCH

Look out for further DANSOX events coming up this year…