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Looking back on the review of 2015, 2016 didn’t work out quite as expected – but in a year of global upheaval that is perhaps hardly surprising…

Following on from Two old instruments, an amazing opportunity had presented itself in December 2015 to work with Baroque musician Evelyn Nallen on a recreation of what could claim to be the first dramatic ballet in which a story was told without recourse to words, but through dance and mimetic gesture. John Weaver’s The Loves of Mars and Venus was premiered on 2nd March 1717 at Drury Lane.   His original scenario survives, and Evelyn and dance historian Moira Goff had used it as a base to put together a score of suitable period music; the idea to recreate the work incorporating some authentic dance material of the period but to reset ensembles and the gestural scenes, which Weaver had originally “attempted in imitation of the Pantomimes of the Ancient Greeks and Romans”.   This fascinating project was set to be unveiled on the 300th Anniversary in a truly period magnificent setting with a team of 14 dancers, 7 musicians and an actress. Unfortunately despite our best efforts and heavyweight support from some big names including Dr Richard Ralph, Weaver’s biographer, we were unable to raise sufficient funds; and ultimately lost our venue through factors beyond our control. The project has now morphed into an intimate play with music and authentic dance “Mr Weaver’s Dramatick Entertainment”, but I am sadly no longer involved. I will however keep you posted of performances of what should be a very enjoyable celebration of a truly notable date in the history of ballet. Read More

A year of dancing, teaching, study and music…

On a quiet day in January at the Ivy Arts Centre in University of Surrey Jennifer Jackson, Nicholas Minns and I danced for Sonia York-Pryce as part of her research into ageism and the mature dancer, improvising on her material. This enjoyable experience resulted in short individual interpretations, which along with those of other dancers in UK and Australia Sonia edited into an atmospheric compilation, Interprète/Inappropriate Behaviour. Shown to acclaim as an installation at the Whitebox Gallery of Queensland College of Art at Griffith University in August it subsequently won the Gold Medal in the first ever Joie de Vivre Dance Film Competition here in the UK. You can read more about this and find links to the films here

Dancing continued in February with a further performance of Two old instruments with viola da gamba player Jonathan Rees in the impressive Hive library in Worcester; read about this here. We prepared for this with rehearsal at Didcot’s welcoming Cornerstone Arts Centre; and were back there again in June, this time with Jennifer Jackson and violinist Jenna Sherry, to work on another musical collaboration. Set to Ravel’s beautiful and richly complex Sonata for violin and cello, inflect, unravel received an informal showing in the Church Hall at Holy Trinity Barnes on 17th June before its first formal performance on 18th June as part of Donald Hutera’s vibrant GOlive Festival at the Giant Olive Theatre in Kentish Town. Read More

Curated by veteran dance and theatre critic Donald Hutera the vibrant GOlive Dance and Performance Festival began in London two years ago and is now moving out for the first time, with performances coming up in Oxford at the Burton Taylor Studio Wednesday 15th to Saturday 18th July and in Winchester at the Chesil Theatre on 24th July.  Having performed previously for GOlive in London this year and in 2013, I am delighted to be part of the eclectic mixed bill at the Burton Taylor with colleagues Ségolène Tarte and Marie-Louise Crawley, showing pieces from the Avid for Ovid repertoire on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th.  Other Oxford based artists include Crossover Intergenerational Dance with Cecilia Macfarlane, Marina Collard, hip-hop crew Beat Street and Anuradha Chaturvedi of Drishti Dance.  Exciting visitors showing their work in Oxford for the first time are Hanna Wroblewski, Sarah Kent, Mara Vivas, Shane Shambhu, Ffin Dance and Susan Kempster.  Not to be missed!  Get your bookings in soon, the Burton Taylor is an intimate venue…

You can find out more about GOlive Oxford and book tickets here

and on Oxford Dance Writers here

and for GOlive in Winchester here

And check out Avid for Ovid’s developing work here

See you at the BT…

Susie

It is New Year’s Eve, so time once again to look back on the year and take stock before ringing in 2015… A useful exercise!

A year of performing, testing my limits as a “mature“ dancer, at a time when there seems to be gradually increasing interest in older performers. Two old instruments, my collaboration with viola da gamba player Jonathan Rees, was paired with Dances, Oracles, Mysteries devised and performed by artists of Barefoot Opera in the double bill Visible Music for a mini tour of performances in Bristol, Shoreditch and Oxford at the end of April. Subsequently Jonathan and I also performed twice in the welcoming setting of St Helen’s Central Library in May.  Response has been most positive and we already have a further performance of this adaptable piece confirmed for another library, this time in the intimate studio space of state-of-the-art The Hive in Worcester on 7th February. You can find full information about this project here. Read More

Following last Sunday’s performance for CARU, the Avid for Ovid team will all be performing this Friday afternoon 3rd October as part of the Festival of Ancient Tales being masterminded and hosted by East Oxford Community Classics Centre run by the Iris Project at Cheney School in Headington.  Lots to enjoy at this lively event: stalls, activities, dance, drama, music, an exhibition and talks by famous authors; full details here.  Avid for Ovid will be in action at 3.45pm and 4.45pm in room L2 – only 15 minutes, so don’t be late!  Follow this event on our Facebook event page here.

Avid for Ovid has not been idle since Metamorphoses, our showing of work in progress at Corpus Christi College on 28th August; read Ségolène Tarte’s blog post about it here, where you can also find our programme and evocative images by Bruno Guastalla.  Since then, Ségolène and Malcolm have shown two pieces at the Contemporary Arts Research Unit‘s (CARU) 1st birthday event Where’s the Art? at Modern Art Oxford on Sunday 28th September.  You can see some of Pier Corona’s fabulous pictures of Ségolène in full transformation and Malcolm at the keyboard on the new Avid for Ovid Facebook page here, but here are a couple to give a flavour of the occasion…

Ségolène Tarte as Lycaon, CARU 28th September 2014; photo by Pier Corona

Ségolène Tarte as Lycaon, CARU 28th September 2014; photo by Pier Corona

Ségolène Tarte as Icarus, CARU 28th September 2014, photo by Pier Corona

Ségolène Tarte as Icarus, CARU 28th September 2014, photo by Pier Corona

Malcolm Atkins at CARU 28th September 2014 photo by Pier Corona

Malcolm Atkins at CARU 28th September 2014 photo by Pier Corona

Following further rehearsals this month by the Avid for Ovid group, an evening of dance and music performance based on interpretations of Ovid’s Metamorphoses will be shown at the Al Jaber Auditorium at Corpus Christi College on 28th August.  This is the latest event in the collaboration between academics and artists of Ancient Dance in Modern Dancers (ADMD) and Avid for Ovid (A4O) exploring the nature of ancient Roman pantomime.

Breughel's Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

Breughel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

Metamorphoses – dance interpretations of the poetry of Ovid is a showing of work-in-progress; it will involve audience participation in that we will be asking for your feedback.  We are eager to find out what audiences see in the pieces and how we might improve the communicability of the dance form we’re (re)creating.  Your comments will be precious to both the artists and the academics involved.

Dance:  Ségolène Tarte, Susie Crow

Music:  Malcolm Atkins

Performance:  Thursday 28th August 2014, 6.30pm

Venue:  Al Jaber Auditorium, Corpus Christi College, Merton Street, Oxford OX1 4JF

This event is free and followed by refreshments, but please email Helen Slaney to reserve a place.

For further information about the project, check out the Avid for Ovid page via the link above.

You can read Segolene’s blogpost about our recent work here

There is also now a public facebook page (not requiring a login) where the latest information can be viewed here

 

At our recent workshop we explored and developed dances based on Ovid’s account of the funeral of Memnon, the warrior son of Aurora, Goddess of the Dawn, who is killed in battle by Achilles.  Malcolm and I showed a version of this to illustrate Helen Slaney’s paper on Ancient Dance in Modern Dancers at the 14th Annual Postgraduate Symposium on the Performance of Ancient Dance held at the Ioannou Centre the following day Tuesday 1st July.  We have continued working on this piece, and will be perfoming it on Saturday 19th July as part of the Iffley Music Society Summer Community Concert.  Held at the beautiful and atmospheric St Mary’s Church in Iffley Village, this popular annual concert with time for an interval picnic in the churchyard is the final event of this year’s season by Iffley Music Society; it features locally based performers and this year includes dance with live musical accompaniment. Read More

I have just posted a new page on this blog about the emerging Avid for Ovid group (see above).  Please check it out to find out more about this exciting project which brings together the academic research being conducted at Oxford University through Ancient Dance in Modern Dancers and artistic research by local Oxford dancers and musicians, with a view to presenting performances which draw on ancient techniques to tell stories in dance.

Monday 30th June saw a preliminary workshop session at URC in Summertown with the Avid for Ovid team and classicist Dr Helen Slaney, anthropologist Dr Caroline Potter, doctoral researcher Sophie Bocksberger and special guest dancer Marie Louise Crawley, who brings not only expertise in contemporary dance and mime, but also a background in Classics.  She has been associated with the project since last year, and in May gave a workshop on the use of the neutral mask, as one of a series of thought provoking sessions over three days looking at how stories are told in dance through different genres and techniques.  Great to have her powerful and inspiring contributions in improvisation tasks as we looked closely at examples of transformation in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and how these might be wordlessly conveyed; we look forward to further collaboration with Marie-Louise

This session was planned to start the ball rolling for more intensive work over August with a view to showing work in progress at the end of that month. Watch this space for updates about the work as it develops…

Susie