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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Flutsch

Moving With The Times: Dancin’ Oxford/Pegasus Theatre


Review: Moving With The Times – Dancin’ Oxford/Pegasus Theatre, on until 4 March at the Pegasus Theatre, Oxford. Book here.

[Disclosure. Dancin’ Oxford and Oxford City Council (one of Dancin’ Oxford’s funding bodies) are marketing/PR clients of Quaere Ltd. This is not a sponsored post. I have done my best to provide an unbiased view of this show – I like to think that my inside access will provide you with an extra insight into the show and the artists!]

Each year, Dancin’ Oxford and the Pegasus Theatre commission early career artists to create new work to be debuted at Dancin’ Oxford’s Spring Dance Festival. Incredibly, in the world of British dance, this opportunity for early career artists is unique.

Always competitive, this 2023 season was the most competitive in the award’s history - and it shows in the quality of the final show. The original intention was to provide the award to the three most promising artists. For the 2023 season, however, the field was so strong that the judges were unanimous in agreeing to fund a further commission.

Vita Peach, as HUGO.

As a result, 2023’s show debuts not three but four truly extraordinary original dance pieces from four very gifted dance artists/companies.

Winners of the Dancin' Oxford/Pegasus commission - from left to right, Christopher Tendai from CTC Dance Company, Divija Melally, Lucy Clark from the fuse collective, Vita Peach and Ting from the fuse collective.

Last night’s show opened with the fuse collective’s piece That Thing. A multi-disciplinary group made up of two digital artists, a musician and a dancer, the fuse collective’s piece provided the audience with the immersive experience of a very special point of view.

Lucy Clark from the fuse collective performing That Thing.

Dancer, Lucy Clark, suffers from a life altering, chronic illness which, for the most part, is hidden from casual observation. The fuse collective’s piece brings the audience into Lucy’s world – with original live music and original art projected onto the walls – it’s a beautiful, immersive and stark experience.

Lucy Clark from the fuse collective performing That Thing.

The second piece, HUGO, was by Oxford’s own drag king, actor and burlesque dancer Vita Peach. Directed by the venerable Tamsin Heatley, this piece is full of physical comedy and light hearted fun that turns dark quickly.

Vita Peach performing HUGO.

Hugo is a wealthy, entitled posh boy whose golden life becomes a cage when the pillars of his privileged belief system start to crumble. Peach’s extraordinary physical comedy and acting ability brought the audience to tears with laughter.

Vita Peach performing HUGO.

There is no doubt that Peach will be a huge star – with her work easily translatable across stage, screen and social media platforms. Heatley’s and Peach’s partnership has brought something unique and special to the dance world – long may it continue.

Divija Melally performing The Skeleton is White.

The third piece was again, something very special with Indian dancer Divija Melally performing her work The Skeleton is White. Melally’s piece explores the trauma of India’s partition with the effects rippling through the generations.

Divija Melally performing The Skeleton is White.

Melally has managed to encapsulate an overwhelmingly huge topic into something beautiful, powerful and cool. The image of Melally’s dancing among a mass of white balls of differing sizes – each movement sending the balls rippling to the edges of the stage – is an enduring one that will stay with me for a long time.

Divija Melally performing the Skeleton is White.

The final piece, and the longest, was CTC Dance Company’s piece INk’D – exploring the relationship between a cis man and a transgender woman. This piece delves into the impact of transition on a relationship. Both supremely talented and versatile dancers brought the piece to life with empathy and an impressive level of technical skill – in both acting and dance.

Trayvaughn Robins and Tony Scott-Obene of CTC Dance Company performing INk'D.

I think the piece could benefit from being more tightly edited, but there is no doubt, that choreographer Christopher Tendai has brought a unique and special point of view to the stage.

Tonye Scott-Obene of CTC Dance Company performing INk'D.

This was a varied and inspirational night out. While I do think we will see more of all four artists/companies in the future – tonight is the last night of this particular show – so go and see it while you can.


Feature image of Tone Scott-Obene of CTC Dance Company.

All images, other than the selfie taken by Vita Peach, were taken by Oxford based photographer David Fisher.


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