The extensive January-through-May Spring tour of the Richard Alston Dance Company ended at the Oxford Playhouse on 27 May this year. They are next appearing at The Place in London on 10 and 11 June. I urge you to attend if you can. If you are interested in contemporary dance this is a company to note; and if you are not, this may be the company that converts you. For me they are one of the élite dance companies in the UK.
Small scale, comprised of a troupe of ten superb dancers at the moment, the programme I saw gave me immense pleasure and kept me interested throughout. The first half, danced to Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb and his Hölderlin Fragments, were classic pieces, superbly controlled, danced with superb attention to detail, with movement that was elegant, elegiac and visually beautiful. The second half, with a new ballet called Burning by Martin Lawrance based on the life of Liszt and danced to Liszt’s Dante Sonata (extremely well-played by Jason Ridgway), was a passionate, seductive and very appealing example of story telling in dance; as was a brilliant finale – Illuminations to the music of the Benjamin Britten cycle. Liam Riddick as Rimbaud and Nicholas Bodych as Verlaine were outstanding throughout the earlier parts of the evening but were especially moving and gracefully athletic in the final piece and the use of the company for context was superb.
Perhaps I respond to the company positively because in some of the dancing I detect homages to or the influence of Agnes de Mille, Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine and an American style of contemporary dance that has always appealed to me. The choreography of all these pieces was apt and memorable and at the end of the evening I simply wanted to see more. The Richard Alston Dance Company has a distinct personality created by its choreographers and dancers. I will now seek out their future work and I encourage you to consider doing the same.