Richard Alston Dance Company at The Festival Theatre Edinburgh (Friday 28th and Saturday 29th September) is one of those real watershed moments in dance-theatre as this 2019/2020 tour is the last one we will ever see from the company as Richard Alston is closing his company in 2020. Richard Alston has been a regular part of the autumn programme at this theatre for 20 years and it was obvious tonight that many people had come out to say goodbye to one of their favourite choreographers and his company of dancers and creatives.
I could easily turn this review into one about the short-sighted visions and folly of arts funding bodies but, like Richard Alston, I choose to instead celebrate what has gone before and everything that this company has stood for over the many years of its creativity, and despite much sadness in the theatre tonight, there was also a spirit of celebration as this programme reminded us all of just how special and unique Richard Alston Dance Company are, and what a statement they have made not only upon British contemporary dance, but also on a far larger world-wide stage.
It is more than fitting that, with a professional career devoted not only to dance but constantly developing new young talents, our programme opened with a youth dance group that opened here 2 years ago for Richard too – Evolution Dance from Inverurie. This time the work was one specially written for them by James Muller from RADC. A full list of Evolution Dance performers is at the end of this review.
For our “Final Edition” programme, there were four works,
Brahms Hungarian (2018)
Choreography Richard Alston
Music and dance always seem to be inseparable from one another in Richard’s work and this is as good an example as any of this as music (Pianist: Jason Ridgway) from Johannes Brahms, Hungarian Dances for solo piano blend seamlessly with choreography that make the two into one expression of both movement and music.
Choreography Richard Alston
Once again Richard Alston weaves a story of love and loss through two friends that reflects through the music of Chopin (Pianist: Jason Ridgway) the composer’s own loss of his beloved Poland to which he could never return and the emotions that this delicate work for two (dancers Joshua Harriette and Nicholas Shikkis) produces is something very special.
A Far Cry (new)
Choreography Martin Lawrance
A touching and beautiful work from one choreographer (and friend) to another knowing that this is his final work for RADC. A work brought to life with style and grace by dancers Elly Braund and Nicholas Shikkis that matches perfectly the music of Elgar’s impassioned Introduction and Allegro
Voices and Light Footsteps (New)
Choreographer Richard Alston
Richard Alston’s love of dance and music and his inspiration from wide ranging sources in time periods and place is what we are all really celebrating here with him in this “final edition” and this work choreographed to the music of the great Baroque master Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi was more than an appropriate work to end with. A work full of emotion, lightness, and delicate style and grace – all elements that have been hallmarks of Richard Alston’s work for us to enjoy over the years.
Our full company of dancers for this final show included Elly Braund, Nicholas Shikkis, Ellen Yilma, Joshua Harriette, Jennifer Hayes, Jason Tucker, Nahum McLean, Alejandra Gissler, and Niall Egan.
Evolution Dance members were Libby Cook, Lauren Cran, Caitlin Dick, Cara Duncan, Saul Farrell, Milly J Gibb, Kirsty Hay, Ellice McIntosh, Stephanie McIntosh, Lily Nicolson, Hannah Redfern, Rebecca Strachan and Thomas Tribe.
Taking a little liberty here with the title of an Abba song, but for Richard Alston, “Thank You For The Dance”.
Review by Tom King