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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

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

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

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