VISCERAL and thought-provoking, poignant and moving, or frivolous and fun... dance covers the full range of emotion, synthesising the human experience through physical expression.

The most beautiful and captivating of performing arts, it allows the dancer to portray a state or sensation through poise and movement alone. In its most graceful form it requires performers to be at the very peak of physical fitness. But at its best it requires nothing more than the ability to abandon oneself... to shake off social constraints and the concerns of everyday existence and submit to something greater – the rhythm, one’s emotions... and the beat.

This weekend, the city will attempt to do just that as it throws itself into a dizzying season of movement with the launch of Dancin’ Oxford.

One of our key artistic endeavours, this festival of movement brings together local people and some of the world’s greatest dancers. And for festival founder Claire Thompson its spring, summer and autumn seasons are the highlights of the city’s artistic year.

“Dancin’ Oxford not only celebrates and showcases the vibrancy of dance right here in the city, but brings together high quality dancers and companies from all around the world,” she says.

“This spring, the festival offers opportunity to see dance at its very best, with a range of dance shows from locally-based and visiting national dance companies and some exciting opportunities to get involved and have a go at taking part.


Oxford Mail: Dancin Oxford - Excessive Human Collective - part of Moving with the Times 1

“It is hugely important to increase accessibility to dance, enable the theatre venues to programme a range of dance within a festival period and to showcase all that dance has to offer.”

The fun starts today and continues until March 14.

It begins with three new pieces, co-commissioned with East Oxford’s Pegasus Theatre from emerging companies. Moving with the Times, at the Pegasus today (Saturday), reflects the current energies and ideas of dancers at the beginning of their careers.

The festival launch, at the Westgate today (Saturday), has three professional companies: Richard Chappell Dance, Oxford’s Unlock the Chains Collective and Joli Vyann.

The festival’s ever-popular Zumba party returns and there will performances from local youth dance groups including Step2 Dance, Body Politic, TPD Young Artists and Mini Professionals.

It will be followed by a two-day intensive workshop for anyone over 50, at The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury tomorrow and Sunday, in which dancers will create a short piece to perform live on stage at the venue before a performance by the acclaimed Chhaya Collective on Thursday.

Another opportunity to dance comes from Oxford’s Cuban dance group Ran Kan Kan at the Old Fire Station in George Street, on Thursday.

Oxford Mail: Dancin Oxford - Excessive Human Collective - part of Moving with the Times

There is more Oxfordshire talent from the Body Politic Dance professional dance company, who perform a powerful hip-hop dance show at the North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade, Summertown, on March 11. The show, called Them, delves deep into what the company describe as “an emotional portrayal of inequality and misogyny”.

At the other end of the ‘heavy’ spectrum are festival family favourites Wriggle Dance Company, who make three appearances with a performance, workshop and interactive film experience at the North Wall on March 12.

The spring season concludes with a return visit to Oxford Playhouse by Richard Chappell Dance with his new work Infinite Way Home on March 14. It is described as “a multisensory production that explores ritual, rave and human connection”.

Oxford Mail: Dancin Oxford - Body Politic Dance - THEM - C Camilla Greenwell

Claire, who is also Oxford City Arts Development Officer, has her own pick of events: “One of the things I most love about my job is curating this fabulous festival which brings new talent and work to the city but also supports its local dancers who are at the beginning of their dance career.

“This year I am delighted that we will again be launching the festival at the Westgate, bringing five hours of spectacular dance to Oxford. It is a chance to bring some fantastic dance into the city centre to entertain and to engage a wide range of people in watching and taking part in a mini street dance masterclass and the Zumba party. Dance is hugely important right now as it brings so many health benefits for both physical and mental health and well-being.

“Oxford has a wealth of weekly dance classes for all ages, in a wide range of styles and one of our aims through the festival is to introduce many people to dance for the first time – whether as audience member or participant. It also provides an exciting, stimulating high quality programme of dance.”

Dancin Oxford runs from today until Monday, March 14. For tickets – free to £16.50 – see

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