There really is something for everyone in Dancin’ Oxford’s 2020 spring extravaganza.

Its Spring Festival features a smorgasboard of dance, from critiquing to street dance, dance clubs to family shows, professionals to futurism, ballet to contemporary, story-telling to choreography, as well as a broad expanse of free and interactive dance to try or join in with.

Take Colin Jones’ photographic exhibition from the 1960s. This dancer-turned-photographer’s first exhibition in a public gallery captures hard-working bodies and backstage drama from the likes of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, at The North Wall.

Since 2007 90,000 people have seen Dancin Oxford’s shows, 21,000 have taken part, nearly 2,000 performers have danced and 760 education and training events have been staged.

This year looks set to be equally ambitious. The most talked about events are Moving with the Times (28 & 29 Feb) which feature three emerging dance companies co-commissioned to create new work.  

This year the work of Amy Foskett Dance, Dishtri Dance and Thomas Page Dances uses Kathak and contemporary forms to offer explosive, moving and thought provoking experiences, as commissioned by Dancin’ Oxford and Pegasus.

Or how about the free five hours of dance at The Westgate Centre in Oxford on Saturday Feb 29 – a mixture of professional and local youth dance groups plus opportunities to join in a Zumba or street dance classes.  

The professional companies taking part include Pro-Notion, a highly respected international popping and animation company, and Kapow Dance Circus Theatre, a more family friendly company.

Also returning is Infuse Dance’s highly entertaining company Bodyguards who will scout the shopping centre looking for ‘celebs’  to ‘protect’.

Neon Dance hit the city centre on Sunday March 1 by building a futuristic dome at the University of Oxford Museum of Natural History where it will present Puzzle Creature – where there’s no barrier between the artist and the audience.

Even the big names such as Riverdance, the Russian State Ballet and even Strictly’s Anton and Erin are all appearing the New Theatre and have been squeezed into the packed Dancin’ Oxford programme.

The Oxford Playhouse will host Gecko and Mind the Gap’s, 60 minute show A Little Space – a unique blend of theatre, choreography and stunning imagery with incredible performers from Mind the Gap, one of Europe’s leading learning disability theatre companies. They use a blend of theatre, choreography and stunning imagery, to explore the premise.

Sonia Sabri Dance returns to Oxford with a family show for 5+ Same Same…But Different at North Wall. Using a mixture of Kathak, hip-hop, contemporary dance and storytelling, three dancers will conjure a magical space to celebrate individuality, diversity and the bonds which connect us all.

And there are performances county-wide. Take dancer and choreographer Joëlle Pappas performance at The Abbey, The Green, Sutton Courtenay. The original programme of French music and song take inspiration from the life and sculptures of Camille Claudel who, after being Rodin’s talented assistant and muse, spent the last 30 years of her life interned in a psychiatric institution.

There are also opportunities to try out new dance forms on offer all around Oxfordshire in a relaxed class where the emphasis is on fun, from street dance to Kathak, ballroom to Lindy Hop and ballet to contemporary dance, at a venue near you. And at £3 a session, it’s got to be a goer.

The festival is also introducing its own Dance Audience Club, a sort of book club for live dance. Club members will see three shows together and discuss them afterwards, perfect for those who like a group discussion, fancy getting out and about and meeting some new people. It’s only £30 to join which includes tickets.  

Organiser Claire Thompson, added: “Dancin’ Oxford is offering a wonderfully varied programme for its festival this year. There is plenty on offer to tempt new audiences with some really exciting, accessible performances. No experience is necessary to watch any of the shows or even take up some of the opportunities to have a go. I’m hoping many will enjoy dance and dancing this Spring, particularly if it is the first time!”

For information on all the shows in Dancin’ Oxford’s Spring Festival running from Feb 28  Feb – Mar 8 go to www.dancinoxford.co.uk

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