FOUR STARS The seventh Dancin’ Oxford is in full swing, and on Friday five local dancers/choreographers showed works specially commissioned for the festival. On a stage littered with circles and piles of white stones, AnaMorphic Dance Theatre, below, opened the proceedings with Stone’s Throw. Here, in a blend of video-footage and live performance, the stones represented markers enabling the cast to find their way back to their past. Ana Barbour’s work is always intriguing. In Inertia she focuses on that very thing, and the forces and influences that counteract the body’s ‘tendency to preserve its state of rest’, and cause us to get up in the morning and do something. Barbour is fascinated by fabrics, and here she eventually disappears into a woolly rug, and presumably her ‘state of rest’.

Escape Artist: is this a Dance? is an amusing monologue by Jenny Parrottt on why she is afraid to show us any dance at all. She has a gift for stand-up comedy and reminds me somewhat of Victoria Wood. Finally she does dance, in a Wood-does-Isadora Duncan sort of way.

In Triple-Entendre two classical dancers explore the ways in which memory affects our actions. I haven’t room to go in to detail, but this was fine semi-abstract piece, with Segolene Tarte and Laura Addison offering the most professional and accomplished work of the evening. Finally It’ll Turn Up is Elly Crowther’s take on happiness. A mid-Atlantic voice-over tells us things such as ‘it takes a lot of suffering to be happy’. The dancers certainly seemed happy in this light-hearted piece, with Sarah Bishop the sparkiest of all. On Monday, the Pegasus hosted Oxford’s own Sole Rebel Tap in their new production Tapestry.

The first part, Step in Time, consisted of seven short pieces choreographed by director Hannah De Cancho, and other company members.

I particularly liked their opening number Hiphip Chinchin, in which De Cancho successfully took a contemporary view on tap dance. This was followed by the Cole Porter number Don’t Mean a Thing, again by De Cancho. I also very much liked Katie Ballard and Kara Fogerty’s Moses, based on Gene Kelly’s 1930s choreography, and Charlie’s Big Heart, a touching, Chaplinesque piece by Marie-Louise Flexen, to Chaplin’s song Smile. We then had an impressive four songs at the keyboard from Alice Offley, followed, after the interval, by an interminable set on synthesiser by Debian Blak, who went on to accompany more tap from the company in Solely Rhythm, again performing his own original music. A varied and mainly very entertaining evening.