A megaphonea(Photo: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) 'Megaphon' by floeschie. See: https://www.flickr.com/photos/floeschie/4345518893 is used in this performance! (Photo: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) floeschie. See: https://www.flickr.com/photos/floeschie/a

Saluto! A dance

Offbeat – Oxford’s fringe festival – invited submissions for its 2019 programme and so I made a proposal. ‘Saluto!’ is a participatory dance performance based on Italo Calvino’s short stories. Here’s the details.

Company name

Oxford Contact Dance

Title of the show


Marketing copy (100 words)

Salutation! We welcome you to the absurdity of dance which celebrates the stories of Italian author Italo Calvino. We shall gather and shout ‘Theresa’[sic]; we shall behead those that are leaders; we will play the game of tip-cat for all else is forbidden. You shall dance – but you don’t need to be a dancer; accept our invitation to become the spectacle that is life itself! Saluto!

(Note: This production features no nudity but audience participation is required.)

Description of the piece (250 words)

This dance production involves audience participation – to move, to make noise and to be part of the production itself: the audience are the landscape and indeed dancers too. In Calvino’s work ‘The Man Who Shouted Teresa’ a crowd gathers to shout to a balcony on the top floor – so shall the crowd that is the audience. We blindfold audience members as they are condemned – as in the story ‘Beheading the Heads’. They will embrace the aural landscape behind their blindfolds with the thunder of Italian and English narration by megaphone. Dance based on Calvino’s ‘Making Do’ will dissolve conformity into liberty yet be frustrated. Thus in this production, the audience is the spectator and also the spectacle.

Six dancers from Oxford Contact Dance will use improvised dance theatre techniques and contact improvisation for this performance. We’ll use simple props – a sheet, a rope, a typewriter, a lamp, to create movement, sensation, and drama. Never has Calvino’s work been represented – or misinterpreted – in such an imaginative and revisionist manner.

The work’s current stage of development / production history

This is a new production and it will premiere at Offbeat. Oxford Contact Dance has had three public performances (2017-2018) and we are rapidly gaining a reputation for challenging and original work. Our Library Dance in 2017, at Oxfordshire’s Central Library marked its re-opening. We used improvised dance techniques, and merged audience and performers in the work. Our Garden Dance in 2018, at The Turrill Sculpture Garden, Oxford brought it to life with human forms and movement, inspired by the abstract works of artist Wassily Kandinsky.

Saluto! is in development and composition workshops are planned. We use the contributions of all dancers to arrive at the finished performance. The artistic director is Andrew Wood, who also directed the library and garden dances, and who co-founded Oxford Contact Dance in 2014.

When presented at Offbeat the work will be: finished piece/ work in progress

Finished work

No. of artists in the piece


Development / production plans before and after Offbeat

There will be four workshops and two rehearsals to create the final composition (dance score). We will investigate a sound and musical accompaniment with musicians that have previously collaborated with us. We expect this production to be a one-off especially for Offbeat.

Anticipated running time of show

30 minutes

Are you Oxfordshire based?

Yes – in Oxford.

Web links

These links are to the dance diary of Andrew Wood – the artistic director of this performance.

Interpretation of Calvino’s work: http://andrewdance.org/learning/learning-to-dance/

Garden dance – 2018 (article with video): http://andrewdance.org/oxford-contact-dance/garden-dance/

Library Dance – 2017 (article with photos): http://andrewdance.org/oxford-contact-dance/library-dance/

Age Guidance

12+ (children must be accompanied by an adult)

Space Preferred

OFS Studio (cap. 45)

Does the show have any specific technical requirements?

The OFS Studio should be cleared of chairs as the audience will be moving.

The majority of your company identify as:

Based in Oxfordshire

Are there any dates 17 – 29 June that you can’t make?

Performances will need to be in the evening or at weekends only.


Featured image/top image A megaphone is used in this performance! (Photo: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) ‘Megaphon’ by floeschie. See: https://www.flickr.com/photos/floeschie/4345518893

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