With the clock ticking for the world to take action on climate change, Café Reason’s timely and provocative new work offers a creative response to the threats facing our fragile planet.
“Eloquent dance and eclectic live music led by veteran jazz singer Maggie Nicols, express the vulnerability of the earth and our own responsibility for it, past and future,” Ayala Kingsley explains, founder member, project manager and dancer for Café Reason.
“I am still able to affect others and do what I can to make life possible for the generations to come. This is what is firing me up at the moment and why I want to make this piece.”
Café Reason is an Oxford-based experimental performance company specialising in butoh – a radical dance form that originated in post-war Japan and combines dance with original music, poetry, installation art, and video.
Constantly innovating, the group “seeks to extend the boundaries of perception and the interpretation of what it means to be human.”
This piece is inspired by the United Nations 2018 report, as Tipping Point weaves together surreal physical theatre, vocal improvisation, original video, bizarre costume, and found objects, to shine light on our relationship with the Earth.
“At once beautiful and disturbing, it presents an absorbing, challenging, and moving audience experience,” Ayala says.
So what will we see? “Tipping Point weaves together butoh dance with improvised vocals, violin and keyboard, recorded sounds and video, to create a progression of dreamlike scenarios.
“Although it is a very dramatic, theatrical experience, you need to think more in terms of an abstract painting, or an evocative piece of music. There are hints of ‘story’, but we want the audience to find their own meanings in it through their emotional engagement,” she adds.
And why butoh? “Butoh is a radical dance form: it pushes boundaries and is willing to use grotesque or disturbing, yet often coincidentally beautiful imagery to find surprising connections.
“I began performing butoh in 1997, at the age when a ballet dancer might have considered retiring, but if you are not concerned about being ‘pretty’ you can be truthful – I think audiences appreciate that.”
As for Café Reason, Ayala explains its members “like to think of ourselves as explorers. We’ve been breaking new creative ground in Oxford and beyond for 22 years. Every member of the group has a different background, body shape, level of artistic experience and skill. At the moment it is an all-female group of mostly older dancers, which we think brings a particularly rich, nuanced quality to the work we do, even if we can’t do jumps.
“And butoh tends not to do jumps anyway!” she laughs.
TIPPING POINT, Our World in Crisis, 11 & 12 January, 7.30pm
Al Jaber Auditorium
Corpus Christi College
Oxford, OX1 4JF
Tickets: £12 in advance www.eventbrite.co.uk