Founded by Professor Susan Jones, Dance Scholarship Oxford (DANSOX) provides a major forum for dance scholarship in Europe, promoting dialogue between prominent academic disciplines and the worlds of dance theory and practice. The DANSOX series of events explore the ways in which the role of choreographic practice makes an essential contribution to innovations across academic fields, theatre and performance. The Patrons of DANSOX are Dame Monica Mason and Sheila Forbes, CBE, former Principal of St Hilda's College.
From 3–6 July 2018, DANSOX and the 'Liveness, Hybridity & Noise' series will join forces for a multi-disciplinary presentation of three new works that stretch the synthetic possibilities of music and dance. Over a four-day residency at St Hilda’s College, one of Holland’s leading contemporary music groups, Ensemble Klang, will be working with three composers from Oxford and several leading contemporary dancer-choreographers (Malgorzata Dzierzon, Estela Merlos, Dane Hurst). ‘Open’ rehearsals will take place each afternoon on 3–5 July, as well as a fully-staged performance on the evening of 6 July (tickets required for all sessions and spaces limited so booking early advised).
Guest Lecture on Fred Astaire by Alastair Macaulay (New York Times Chief Dance Critic), 1 March 2018
Alastair Macaulay treated the audience to a scintillating lecture on the legendary Astaire's life and work, with illustration and film footage.
Film Night: New Wave Ballet, 19 February 2018
DANSOX hosted a screening of New Wave Ballet, Lynne Wake's newly reversioned documentary film. Featuring interviews and never before seen archival footage, New Wave Ballet explores British choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan's early work. Lynne Wake introduced the film, and Dame Monica Mason, who danced in MacMillan's ballets, most notably in Rite of Spring and Song of the Earth, led the discussion after the screening. Lady Deborah MacMillan, widow of Sir Kenneth, was present at the event.
Lisa Dwan: Performing Beckett, 16 November 2017
Renowned Irish actress, Lisa Dwan discussed her recent work and repertoire – especially Not I and other stunning dramatisations of Samuel Beckett. She explored how her dance training enabled her to refine the all-encompassing performance technique and control required to engender the challenging physical requirements of Beckett's plays.
Rawaa, the creation of a ballet, 12-14 November 2017
Audience members watched the process of creating a new ballet in an interdisciplinary workshop with world-renowned artists, writer, Marina Warner, choreographer Kim Brandstrup, pianist and composer, Joanna MacGregor, and professional dancers. Rawaa comes from Arabic, the root for words meaning 'to water' and 'to relate' and this provided the dominant metaphorical motif of the ballet's mood and movement.
DANSOX guest seminar by Professor Mark Franko, 2 June 2017
Professor Mark Franko (Temple University USA), renowned dance scholar, delivered a guest seminar on his new research into French dance and neo-classicism entitled, 'Serge Lifar and the Interwar Dance Discourses of Neoclassicism (1930-1939): An examination of how neoclassicism was theorized in French ballet during the 1930s'.
DANSOX lecture on John Cranko, twentieth-century choreographer by Julia Burhle (University of Oxford), 23 February 2017
Dr Julia Burhle gave a stimulating illustrated overview of John Cranko (1927-1973) - his life and work, focussing on his great innovations in narrative choreography and expression of interiority in ballet forms. Cranko was a South African born ballet dancer and choreographer with the Royal Ballet and the Stuttgart Ballet. His most famous "literary" ballets include Romeo and Juliet (1962), with music by Prokofiev; Onegin (1965), an adaptation of the verse novel by Alexander Pushkin, with music by Tchaikovsky; The Taming of the Shrew (1969). A lively and polemical discussion followed the lecture, covering the question about what constitutes "narrative" form in dance.
'Nijinska' Lecture by Professor Lynn Garafola, 10 November 2016
DANSOX was honoured to present a guest lecture on "Bronislava Nijinska" by Professor Lynn Garafola (Barnard College, Columbia University). Lynn Garafola is a distinguished scholar, teacher, researcher, and writer with interests in the field of dance history.
Choreographic Summer Residency: Kim Brandstrup
Exploring the Rhythm: the relationship between music and dance in the practice of choreography, 19 - 23 July 2016, Jacqueline du Pré Music Building
Artist in Residence at St Hilda’s College, Kim Brandstrup (international choreographer) and Oliver Coates (cellist/composer) were joined by renowned pianist Joanna MacGregor to direct a workshop with professional dancers, Simone Damberg Würtz (Rambert Dance), Liam Francis (Rambert Dance), Tobias Praetorius (Royal Danish Ballet). The workshop was open to public viewing as the artists explored the source of movement dynamics and musical/spatial form in choreographic composition. Filmographers Ardeshir Ab and Dominika Besinska joined us and the workshop formed the basis of a film Brandstrup is developing about the theory of choreography, to be shown at a later DANSOX event. Audience members included Oxford music and composition students, dance scholars, academics and many other interested viewers. Two evening showings were followed by intense discussion and interaction between the artists and the audience.
See also a report on the workshop by Maggie Watson
Exploring Mark Morris’s L’Allegro, Il Penseroso, ed Il Moderato, 9 June 2016
An evening of talks on the contexts of choreographer Mark Morris’s iconic 20th-century dance piece based on Handel’s interpretation of Milton. Margaret Kean (St Hilda’s) discussed the poetry, Jonathan Williams (St Hilda’s) spoke about the score and libretto, and Guest Lecturer, Stephanie Jordan (Roehampton) gave a detailed, illustrated demonstration of the structure and development of Morris’s choreography, with questions to all speakers generating a lively discussion.
Perfectly Disgraceful, 10 March 2016
Sam Ladkin (University of Sheffield) discussed the work of Frank O’Hara, Edwin Denby and the concept of ‘New York School Grace’ followed by a lively discussion. Participants explored the 19th-century critique of ‘grace’ that impacted on 20th-century American poetry.
Special Guest Lecture
Frederick Ashton: Steps, Stories, Style, 2 March 2016
Distinguished guest lecturer, Alastair Macaulay (Chief Dance Critic, New York Times) discussed the life and work of Britain’s great 20th-century choreographer in a sparkling, illustrated talk. There was particular emphasis on Ashton’s contemporary exploitation of classical traditions, as well as the narrative, comedic and modernist abstraction of his diverse styles.
DANSOX: Sea of Troubles, 16 February 2016
DANSOX hosted choreographer and dance scholar Susie Crow, choreographer and director Yolande Yorke-Edgell, and dancers of the Yorke Dance Company for a showing of the reconstruction of Sea of Troubles. This consisted of a rehearsal/demonstration on the process of reviving Kenneth MacMillan's 1988 dance work based on Hamlet.
The Grace Project
In 2015, we saw the inauguration of an ongoing seminar series. The series focuses on the exploration of the concept of grace in all its meanings and interdisciplinary contexts, especially as it relates to dance. Events included:
Žižek, Contemporary Dance, and Grace, 20 November 2015
Renate Braeuninger (Northampton University) discussed the work of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, particularly in Less than Nothing (2012), in relation to contemporary dance and grace. We gain a mediated perspective on German Idealism by looking at it through the lens of Žižek, but one that also reflects contemporary understanding of the term ‘grace’, as in the example of Anna Teresa de Keersmaker’s work. The talk was illustrated by footage of De Keersmaker and a stimulating question session followed.
Joint ARPGD and DANSOX guest seminar, 9 March 2016, Ioannou Centre
From the Neo-Classical Turn to the Baroque 'Re'-turn: French Dance in Retrospective Modernity and Recycling Postmodernity
Mark Franko (Temple University, Philadelphia) explored the complex French traditions and relationships between classicism and dance, from the baroque to the neo-classicism of Serge Lifar. A stimulating question session followed.