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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

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

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

It is that day of the year when all our extended family make predictions as to what the coming year will hold.  I find these very difficult; much easier to reflect back on 2013 and see what that reveals.  Finding the way forward by looking to the past seems to have been rather a theme in creative work this year… 

Jennifer Jackson and I joined forces once again with deluxe improvising duo of composers Malcolm Atkins and Andrew Melvin to perform Late Work at Donald Hutera’s GoLive festival of new dance and performance in September at the Lion and Unicorn pub in Kentish Town.  The piece reflects on our past as dancers and how we are shaped by ballet’s language and historic repertoire.  This really was ballet in a very small space, but thrilling to be part of this lively and refreshing event and its richly varied programme. Read More

Once again classicists at Oxford University have shown a lively interest in dance, with an imaginative research project investigating the forgotten art of Roman pantomime.  This form of storytelling of Greek and Roman myths by a solo dancer became very popular in Imperial Rome, with pantomimes commanding a huge public following.  The form seems subsequently to have disappeared, and little evidence apparently remains beyond a few images and references in contemporary writings.  Under the auspices of The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) researchers are exploring ways to imaginatively recreate or evoke it, by teaming dancers with classicists to collaborate on mining the texts for clues, and compose short dance studies inspired by their findings.  In addition to insights gained as to the nature of this very particular type of dance, the research team, which includes a social anthropologist, is particularly interested in the type of knowledge that can be generated through the engagement of practitioners in the research process. Read More

After the August days of summer sunshine it’s briskly back to work in September, rehearsing for forthcoming performances of Late Work with Jennifer Jackson and musicians Malcolm Atkins and Andrew Melvin at the new GOlive Dance and Performance Festival curated by dance critic Donald Hutera (the Times) at the intimate Lion and Unicorn Theatre in London.  Part of the Giant Olive Community Theatre Company, and now going into its twenty-fifth year, Kentish Town’s only theatre has firmly established itself as a cultural centre for high quality and innovative theatrical productions.  GOlive runs from the Monday 9th to Sunday 29th September, see the full programme and booking details here:

http://www.lionandunicorntheatre.com/golive.php

Late Work performances are at 7.30pm on Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th September; more information about Jennifer’s Dancing the Invisible project of which it was a part, audience comments and link to the Late Work blog can be found here:

http://www.surrey.ac.uk/schoolofarts/research/dance/dancingtheinvisible/

Jennifer Jackson and Susie Crow in the Haiku section of Late Work at the Ivy Arts Centre, Guildford

Jennifer Jackson with Susie Crow and Malcolm Atkins  in the Haiku section of Late Work at the Ivy Arts Centre, Guildford, May 2012

It’s that day in the calendar to take stock, so sitting here looking out at the rain and hoping that the year ahead will be less waterlogged than 2012… A year of ups and downs – my artistic highlights dancing with wonderful colleagues in Late Work and Dancing the Invisible and the fantastical and ever developing work with the DEC group, planning to blossom into performance in 2013. Read More