Alston At Home - Dance ☆☆☆☆4
Showing from - Wednesday, June 10, 2015 through till Saturday, June 13, 2015
Robin Howard Dance Theatre, The Place - London
Rachel Elderkin | Friday, June 12, 2015
Since Richard Alston Dance Company was founded in 1994, The Place London has been the venue the company has considered ‘home’.
So, it’s only natural that as RADC celebrates its 20th anniversary The Place should present a selection of the company’s repertoire, with works by both Alston and guest choreographers, in the aptly titled Alston At Home.
For a celebratory performance, the programme contained a surprising abundance of new work with four world premieres, including one by Alston, alongside just two works from RADC’s established repertoire; Brisk Singing and Overdrive. Opening Gambit was a spectacle of pure joy in speed and motion, showcasing the company dancers at their athletic best
Of the new works, Opening Gambit, choreographed by former company dancer Martin Lawrance, was the highlight, a spectacle of pure joy in speed and motion that showcased the company dancers at their athletic and technical best.
Flying across the space they were unfaltering in their execution of Opening Gambit’s relentless movement and their apparent relish in this made for an impressive start to the evening. With its angular shapes and classical lines moved through with drive and fluidity Lawrance’s homage to Alston was clear.
Stylistically, Opening Gambit was of a similar vein to Alston’s Overdrive, which Lawrance also re-staged for the company. Created by Alston in 2003 Overdrive perfectly captures the energy of its music; Terry Riley’s Keyboard Study #1, a score with a perpetual rhythm like a running waterfall. The movement echoes this, barely allowing the dancers a pause for breath. Three female dancers dressed in red mark the way through this deceivingly complex piece, the ease of movement and ceaseless energy achieved by the company belying Alston’s technical and choreographic detail. With Overdrive closing the evening this anniversary celebration was bookended by work that captured the trademark style of RADC.
World premieres by Joseph Toonga and company dancer Ihsaan de Banya added some variation to the evening, presenting work of a more current contemporary style. Of the two, Toonga’s Unease stood out with its sharp, pulsating dynamic of movement at odds with the flow of the accompanying music. Unease simmers with a sense of internal tension that is never quite released and while the piece is somewhat of a slow burner its brooding intensity was enough to hold the interest.
Alston’s 1997 duet Brisk Singing offered a rare moment of calm in the evening’s movement-packed bill, beautifully danced by guest artist’s Maeve McEwen and Michael Parmelee. They executed Alston’s choreography with sensitivity and grace, but the connection between them was not quite matched to the romantic sensuality of the music.
Alternating between duet and solo work, the piece echoes the style of a traditional ballet
The true highlight of the night was another world premiere, this time by Alston himself. Mazur is a duet between two friends reminiscing over a beloved but lost homeland, here Poland. Alternating between duet and solo work, the piece echoes the style of a traditional ballet with its virtuoso structure and influence of classical technique in its movement. It’s a format that allows the genius pairing of Jonathan Goddard and Liam Riddick to shine, showcasing their combination of formidable technique and sensitivity in performance. Mazur has a melancholy beauty, the touches of the Mazurka that Alston has expertly woven into the choreography adding a subtle hint of longing for moments past. Pianist Jason Ridgway captures this beautifully with his accompanying interpretation of Chopin’s Mazurkas and the relaxed but respectful interaction between Ridgway and the dancers enhances this sense of sharing in the past. However, Mazur is not a sombre piece and danced by Goddard and Riddick the work rejoices in these memories, bringing them life and energy.
With a varied selection of works allowing the company to show some versatility in style, Alston At Home is an enjoyable celebration of one of the UK’s leading contemporary dance companies in its 20th year. However, it’s in the works by Alston and Lawrance that the dancers truly excel and so it is Alston’s signature style which, fittingly, leaves its mark.
Mazur photo by Tony Nandi.
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