This is the seventh year of Oxford’s dance festival, and it has been a great success. It’s taking place slightly later than in the past, starting on March 1, and will also be shorter, with two further groups of events later in the year, but as Claire Thompson told me, this doesn’t mean there is less material to see.

“What we’ve done is concentrate the performances into a shorter period, 11 days in total,” she says.

“There’s a lot happening in that time both in the Pegasus Theatre and The Playhouse, and also in the city streets. “For instance in the festival launch on the opening Saturday we have all sorts of dance going on in the city centre including Granny Turismo, which is three guys dressed as grannies, on shopping trolleys with a difference. Their trolleys are also bin-boxes, and you get a chance to see the grannies strut their stuff through town. We also have Being Frank Physical Theatre, a company from the Midlands, with their piece The Quiet Men. “They start travelling, and then they come to a performance area and do their ten-minute piece. It’s quite eccentric. We also have Body Politic, a group of hip-hop dancers, and Sole Rebel Tap. So through the opening day, between twelve and four, we’ll have a whole series of performances with all the times and the locations on the festival website.”

It has always been one of the chief aims of the festival to get people involved in dance, and this year again offers many chances to take part. “Every day through the festival there will be taster workshops, with a different style each day, either at lunchtime or in the evening. We have salsa, zumba, Flamenco, hip-hop, contemporary, and tap. Last year we also launched Baby Boogie at the Pegasus which was a complete sell-out and a huge success. “It’s an opportunity for families with children of five and under to take part in a workshop with professional dancers, and afterwards the theatre is transformed into a disco with flashing lights and smoke machine. For little ones it’s an exciting experience, and I’d encourage people to book early. We bring it back for the autumn programme too.” Some internationally known dance companies are also coming to the festival. “Oxford Playhouse has Jasmin Vardimon back. It’s really exciting that the team — who were here three years ago — are coming back on the last day of the festival with Jasmin’s new work Freedom. Her work is always dramatic and here she’s exploring the elusiveness of freedom, the difficulty we have in imagining it, and even more so, in experiencing it. Also at The Playhouse Richard Alston is doing a Friday at Five, in which he will be interviewed on stage about his long career as a choreographer, which is a prelude to his company’s performance in April.” An important part of the festival planners’ aims is that, as well as national and international companies, the festival also features the best we have in Oxford.

“On March 1 and 2 the Pegasus Theatre hosts Moving With the Times, a showcase for five leading Oxfordshire artists, in an evening of newly commissioned dance works. Pegasus has Cerebro from Britain’s Got To Dance coming, with a piece called I Just Wanna Dance, described as ‘street dance meets theatre. “It follows the cast members as they battle life’s highs and lows. Then Sole Rebel Tap, have their first full evening of work, which is exciting because they’ve been building up their reputation and now they’re going to go on tour. Their work is Tapestry, and they have their own group of musicians who play live. This is not just traditional tap; they do urban tap, body percussion, they’re opening up the style of tap for all ages and making it appealing.”

And you could say the same thing about the festival itself. This is just a skim over the highlights, but visit dancin, or pick up a brochure at one of the venues. There’s also a £1 festival pass from The Playhouse for reductions on some events, free entry into festival club nights, and other special offers. On your marks!