Richard Alston Dance Company The Festival theatre Edinburgh Review Friday 22nd September 2017


Richard Alston Dance Company return to the Festival Theatre Edinburgh for their annual visit, with three new performances plus a very special opening performance by special invitation of Richard Alston himself , from Re:Volution Youth Dance Company –“ Into The Subconscious”.

The return of Richard Alston to The Festival Theatre is one of those events that I always look forward to as  there are two words that simply sum up any production from Richard Alston as a choreographer himself and anything produced for the company – STYLE and GRACE.  Unlike some other contemporary dance companies, there is never any attempt to shock the audience and no crudity of movement…simply a celebration of the many languages of dance and of the beauty of the human body in movement.  The three works performed tonight, although all very different, all hold true to these basic principles.

Carnaval (World Premiere).  Based on Richard Shumann’s 1834 composition “Carnaval”, Richard Alston through wonderful choreography takes us to a dance, a masquerade where the guests include Robert Shumann in the guises of his double persona of Florestan (Nicholas Bodych)  and Eusebius (Liam Riddick)  and his sweetheart Clara Wieck (Elly Braund).  With Jason Ridgway on piano, this work is wonderfully expressive whilst at the same time somehow managing to retain the formality that a dance/masquerade ball of this period would have had.

Chacony.  In this work, Richard Alston takes his choreographer’s vision to interpret the work of two different composers (Henry Purcell and Benjamin Britten).  To quote the brochure, “Chacony is inspired by two pieces of music which share the same form but to very different effect”.  As always from Richard Alston, a complex work that can look so deceptively simple by the effortless grace of movement that is performed onstage.

Gypsy Mixture.  In this work of wide ranging influences, we explore through the choreographic vision of Richard Alston, his dancers, music and the rhythm of speech, the ever changing and ever fluid rhythms of language that is world dance.  Much of the spread of this language of dance and its ever changing rhythms, as one form blends with another to create something new and ever changing, has always come from travelling Gypsies as they nomadically move from country to country – through India, Morocco, and Spain, or through Chile, Brazil, Cuba…the list is endless and this work celebrates what a true “Gypsy Mixture” dance around the world truly is.

Three very different and very individual works on this programme that all exuded apparently effortless style from choreographer, dancers, costume, music, light and sound…a complete package.

I am sure though that Richard Alston himself will be happy if I spend a little time here at the end of his review shining the spotlight a little more on his special guests for this evening, the young dancers from Re:Volution Youth Dance Company  and their performance of their work “ Into The Subconscious”. Re:Volution Youth Dance Company train at Evolution Dance in Inverurie, and when they were selected to perform at the U.Dance 2017 competition Richard Alston was in the audience and later contacted the company with the amazing offer to open one of his shows.

Richard Alston has been a regular attendee of this youth dance competition for the last five years or so, and it is I think important to note that despite huge personal and commercial success in the world of dance, Richard Alston is still out there watching dance at every level and giving such opportunities to young companies and emerging youth talent.  This is where it all begins, and without support of established professionals always willing to encourage new talent, then dance as an art form will struggle to find new talent in the years to come. The development of tomorrow’s talent is perhaps the most important area in any art form and it is good to know that people like Richard Alston are out there not only doing this job but providing amazing opportunities like this that, irrespective of whatever they may achieve as dancers in years to come, will always be a night to remember for everyone involved.

Richard Alston considered it important enough to list these young dancers by name on his programme flyer, so to carry on that work, I list them here too– Libby Cook, Lauren Cran, Cara Duncan, Saul Farrell, Milly J Gibb, Kirsty Hay, Ellice McIntosh, Stephanie McIntosh, Lily Nicholson, Mikey Smith, Sorcha Reid and Thomas Tribe.  Let’s hope that we see more of their names in theatre credits in the coming years.

For more information on Richard Alston Dance Company visit their website at


Review by Tom King





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