I hope you are keeping well, and despite the current extraordinary and restrictive circumstances are at least able to enjoy something of the beautiful spring sunshine… Here are some suggestions to mitigate the current lack of dance activities, which have had to close down to maintain social distancing and combat the spread of Covid 19.
In these extraordinary times Oxford Dance Writers plans to keep going on a regular basis, despite the lack of performances and events to flag up and review. As we all seek for ways to keep dancing practice alive at home, as well as other content ODW hopes to provide a place where those of us that love dance can find out more about, and discuss, the vast array of training material available online. Check out Sonia Tycko’s useful starter guide and suggestions here
As a contribution to this cornucopia, I have finally joined Instagram, where I am posting short enchainments on a daily basis from my kitchen; look for the Enchainement of the day at susiecrowbiss…
Do consider posting a comment on Oxford Dance Writers in response to what you read there; ODW would welcome your thoughts and recommendations, however brief. If you are interested in writing a more substantial piece about the dance that you see online, either performances, dance videos and films, or training resources, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care and stay safe,
Happy New Year – and decade – to all! The new term of ballet classes at URC began on Monday 6th January with the usual schedule of classes:
Mondays 4.15-5.30pm adult beginners, 5.45-7.15pm intermediate
Thursdays 10.00-11.30am advanced, 11.45am-12.15pm optional pointe work
Saturdays 10.00-11.15am adult beginners, 11.30am-1.00pm intermediate/advanced, 1.15-2.00pm optional pointe work.
Classes will as usual continue without a half term break; but the final date of the spring term is yet to be confirmed.
A date for your diary, however: on Monday 20th January there will be the usual adult beginners’ class but no intermediate class. This is because of an exciting DANSOX evening event with choreographer Cathy Marston talking about her new ballet for the Royal Ballet, which I thought people would be interested to attend; you can find details about this on the Oxford Dance Writers (ODW) website here, and check out other exciting dance events in January also flagged up on ODW.
As previously I have a list of people waiting to join the Saturday adult beginners’ class. If you are not able to continue with this class or if you think your attendance might be intermittent, please do let me know soonest if you have not already done so, so that I can calculate how many new people may join.
See you in class!
There are numerous links embedded in this piece; scroll your cursor over the text to find out more…
A year ago I didn’t manage to write a review of 2018; which had ended momentously with the wonderful winter wedding just before Christmas of my daughter Joanna and her man Dan. A very happy occasion with much laughter and song; and the talents of dear dancer friends from Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet days were visible in the bride’s beautiful dress from Ritva Westenius, now headed by Chenca Williams, and gorgeous floral arrangements by Covent Garden’s go-to florist Bloomsbury Flowers run by Stephen Wicks and Mark Welford.
Building up to this special family event had shaped a year otherwise spent in regular teaching but also academic activity; beginning in January with a lecture for the History of Performance Course devised by the admirable Jane Pritchard, Curator of Dance at the Victoria and Albert Museum which houses the former Theatre Museum collections. ‘Dancers, audiences and spaces: reflections from practice’ had been originally presented at a Dance and Academia event in Oxford programmed by Miranda Laurence. It drew on my own experience as a dancer in considering different spaces for dance and their effects on the relationship between performer and audience. In April the more theoretical side of my doctoral research had its first outing in a paper ‘The ballet class: oral tradition and embodied learning’ at the Society for Dance Research’s conference evocatively titled ‘Dance in the Age of Forgetfulness’. Read More
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
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
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
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
Hope you enjoyed the spectacular athletic achievements on display in the Olympics. I did – until I heard David Cameron’s disparaging comments about Indian dance classes in schools last Friday, at which point my blood pressure rose…
You may like to read my response to this here:
Please feel free to comment on Oxford Dance Writers, however briefly, as to what effect you think the Olympic legacy will or should have for dance – for example, whether dance should be taught as an art or as physical education? – and on David Cameron’s (or for that matter Boris Johnson’s) prescriptions for sports in the school curriculum.
On Radio Oxford lively debate about the Olympic legacy has looked not only at the pros and cons of competitive sports in schools but also at increasing adult participation in sport and exercise; I was invited to discuss this on Bill Heine’s programme on Sunday morning, and this morning joined Phil Gayle’s survey of how to keep fit after the age of 50, promoting the virtues of ballet for adults…