The return of Richard Alston Dance Company to The Festival Theatre Edinburgh is always an event that is on my have to see list (for any performance, not just dance), and like the autumn season itself its performances are full of changing moods, colours, sounds and movement.
Richard Alston is celebrating in 2018 his 50th year as a creator of dance, and this year’s performance programme is a celebration of the magic of dance that he has brought to dancers and audiences of all ages worldwide in a career that has also seen him achieve not only artistic and commercial success in the dance world, but also as an educator, promoter and supporter of young people and youth talent. In this retrospective programme we can see not only an investment in the present, but the creation of a stable company that is there for the next generation of dancers.
Our opening performance in tonight’s programme, MID CENTURY MODERN is a carefully selected selection of movements from the last fifty years that for various reasons have special personal meaning to Richard Alston, and although the works on stage come from many different periods of his career, and many different levels of experience as a creator of dance, everything on stage still looks like it is part of a larger whole concept and vision. Through the retrospective lens of MID CENTURY MODERN we get a collage of work that is not performed in linear creation time, but included here are early works NOWHERE SLOWLY (1970) (Richard’s earliest surviving dance creation), BLUE SCHUBERT FRAGMENTS (1972), and RAINBOW BANDIT (1977). Later works including FEVER (2001), SHIMMER (2004) and an earlier creation performed for the first time in this programme, BACH DANCES (2018) all show to me the qualities that always draw me to Richard Alston’s work, the concept that dance itself is a fluid and expressive language in its own right. There is always a fluidic grace to everything that Richard Alston creates. There is always here a merging of classical and modern styles that never moves into the areas of the crude and overtly suggestive that some modern dance companies can sadly fall into. With Richard Alston, we have a never wavering appreciation of the beauty of the human body in movement.
Also on our programme
PROVERB (2006) is a celebration of many things, a celebration of the undocumented skilled artisans of the middle ages who contributed to works of beauty and wonder, and composer Steve Reich (the work was created to celebrate his 70th birthday). Proverb itself is a title taken from a single line of text from Ludwig Wittgenstein.
DETOUR (2018) Here, Michael Gordon’s score Timber has been remixed by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson to create a fast paced musical collaboration to our septet of performers.
BRAHMS HUNGARIAN (2018) I always have a liking for the music of Brahms, but this performance not only captured that music in movement, but with it a wonderful mixture of classical and modern dance was a creation full of lightness, playfulness and joy.
Both DETOUR and BRAHMS HUNGARIAN were getting their first public performances on The Festival Theatre stage this evening, and both works are supported by The Festival Theatre.
It would be inappropriate to be celebrating the career of Richard Alston in dance without acknowledgement to the many people over the years that have influenced and worked with him. That would be a very long list though, so a list of some of the creatives currently with the company will have to do for this review.
Carmine De Amicis
And of course Jason Ridgway (Pianist)
Thank you Richard Alston for 50 years of dance.
Review by Tom King