THE dinosaur skeletons and stuffed animals – and dodo – of Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History have been enchanting visitors for decades.

But while the galleries, with their cast iron columns are usually hushed, disturbed only by reverential whispers, this Sunday they will form the backdrop to an extraordinary avant garde production.

Following a sell-out world premiere in Japan and huge box-office success throughout the UK, Oxford choreographer Adrienne Hart is bringing her highly acclaimed Puzzle Creature dance performance to the iconic space.

The 7pm performance is part of the Dancin’ Oxford Festival. There will also be free performances between 11am and 3pm.

Adrienne who won a scholarship at 17 to train at the prestigious London Contemporary Dance School, now works internationally as a choreographer and as artistic director for Neon Dance.

She said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that we get to present Puzzle Creature at the Museum of Natural History. We push the boundaries of dance and audience experience and the museum at night is a unique setting for this production.

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“The positive response we’ve received so far has been quite overwhelming”.

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Puzzle Creature tells the story of two international architects, Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins, who set out to create death eluding environments designed to stop the human body from dying and reverse the tested theory that humans adapt to whatever space they are given and deteriorate once they feel comfortable.

Oxford Mail:

Arakawa and Gins’ architecture tries to stop you from fully adapting to the environment and therefore fight the ageing process.

Choreographed by Adrienne, the performance lasts for an hour and sees three exquisite dance artists performing alongside the audience within an inflatable dome.

The dancers wear artefacts which create curious imprints within the performance space making the experience totally immersive. The performance features integrated British and Japanese sign language, cutting edge lighting and a commissioned score by Wolvercote-based composer Sebastian Reynolds – formerly of the bands The Epstein, Keyboard Choir and Flights of Helios and a member of the acclaimed Solo Collective.

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“When Adrienne commissioned me to create the score for Puzzle Creature she said wanted the performance to be an immersive experience,” says Sebastian.

Oxford Mail:

“I worked with my engineer Mike Bannard to develop a plan for a surround sound system of speakers to be positioned all around the dome, and I composed the score specially for the eight speaker set up. The score features guest turns from some Oxford music scene friends, including Chris and James from Flights of Helios as well as the German musicians that I work with in Solo Collective – Anne Müller and Alex Stolze.”

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Laura Ashby, the museum’s events manager, says: “We’ve been wanting to see dancers amongst the dinosaurs and glorious architecture of the museum for a long time, so when we encountered Puzzle Creature, we thought it could just be the piece we’d been searching for. It’s so great to be working creatively with Neon Dance to give visitors surprising dance encounters during the day on Sunday, and to work with Dancin’ Oxford on bringing Oxford’s dance-lovers to a spectacular evening show in the galleries.”

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Claire Thompson from Dancin’ Oxford Festival said: “Dancin’ Oxford is thrilled to be presenting Neon Dance’s Puzzle Creature in partnership with Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History.

The festival is committed to offering exciting and unique opportunities for audiences to engage with dance outside of the traditional theatre setting, and this is a chance to bring high quality dance work to new audiences within the stunning setting of the museum.”

  • Tickets for Sunday’s performance cost £12 (£10 concs). The performance will start at 7pm and doors open from 6.30pm. There will also be a series of free daytime performance excerpts taking place in the museum 11am-3pm. Capacity for the evening performance is limited and all tickets must be booked in advance from