Whether you have been dancing since the age of five or have decided you would like to give dance a go for the first time, The Broad Street Dancers talk to us about getting involved with the dance scene at Oxford. They recommend the dance society as “the place to start”, a great source of classes and opportunities, with a varied timetable catering to many different styles from ballet to hiphop. It is also a “good first port of call to meet other dancers,” says Fiona, the show co-ordinator. Treasurer Charlotte confirms this, saying that for her, it was through meeting people at Dance Soc events that she found out about the group.
The Broad Street Dancers themselves are an “established troupe” of around 20 dancers. Formed in 2010, the troupe is a “creative outlet” , accordng to their president, Ed, experimenting with a diverse range of styles and their own choreography. With annual auditions, the group work together to choreograph dances – everything from tap, to burlesque to a cancan! Members are “obliged to be quite diverse,” Charlotte tells me, as the troupe learns dances in a range of styles, depending on the niche specialities of members of the group who want to choreograph. Performing at balls across the year, the group also have to cater to the themes of each ball, an oppotunity to push them in interesting directions.
They have even performed at various Itchy Feet events, doing flashmobs and swing-style dances to help create an atmosphere. Ed says he has particularly enjoyed improving his choreography skills. He is currently responsible for choreographing the upcoming Playhouse production of West Side Story, something he says he “wouldn’t have been able to do” before his experience with the troupe.
Student-run, “we get to organise everything,” says Ed. It is “a lot of teamwork,” adds Fiona, as they are the dancers, the production team and stage managers all in one, organising shows and performances aross Oxford.
It is not without its challenges though. The short terms place limitations on how much choreography can be learnt and retained, and Oxford offers very few suitable rehearsal spaces. 7am rehearsals leading up to their show, and ball perfomances next term which will have them “ball-hopping” between three balls in one night, make it quite a commitment.
However by the sounds of it, the hard work is definitely worth it. They have big plans to make dance more visible at Oxford, including goals such as organising a dance cuppers or a dance varisty. They aim to get dance “more on the map, says Charlotte, developping “more of a hub” between Oxford dance groups.Specialist dancers are also welcome to approach the group with ideas for a new dance. “We’re always looking to learn,” says Fiona.
They recommend interested parties to come along to their show at the Old Fire Station in 6th week. For budding dancers this is the perfect opportunity to see what you would be getting into.