Upon his entrance through the grand Festival Theatre curtains, the loyal crowd’s roaring reception to Sir Richard Alston’s mere presence is enough to incite an earnest anticipation in even the uninitiated. The consensus is clear: the highest calibre of dance is to come.
The audience’s foreshadowing is entirely justified. The ‘Final Edition’ of Richard Alston Dance Company is a supernova conclusion to the venerated company’s twenty-five year career. Consisting of both debuts and revived works, the performance is characterised by the sustained quality of Alston’s distinctive style of contemporary ballet, proliferated across shorter vignettes and longer pieces, and shared by the dances of associate choreographer Martin Lawrance.
Visually and technically, the highlights are many. ‘Far Cry’, choreographed by Lawrance, is a particular stand out as a piece that utilises nuances of lighting and costume to an inspired degree, priming the canvas for an emotively and technically mesmerising choreography. Likewise, the subsequent ‘Red Run’ incorporates dynamic lighting alongside an aggressive jazz rhythm in precise tandem with starkly honest balletic expression. The result is an indulgence of senses and narrative.
Despite sitting amongst a collection dances of love and romance, it is perhaps ’Mazur’, a returning work to the music of Chopin, that is the most emotionally charged. The duet explores longing for both one’s friend and one’s homeland, manifest in a touchingly delicate performance between two male dancers.
‘Brahms Hungarian’ is the triumphant culmination of the performance. Led by the evocative live solo piano of Jason Ridgway, the piece epitomises the artistry by which Alston earned his reputation. The dance elegantly weaves in elements of folk to an already rich choreography from which an entire universe is constructed to immerse and enrapture the audience.
Through the unsurmountable talent of his company’s dancers, Alston’s vision reaches its nigh-eudaemonic potential in a performance that flings away any glimmer of the outside world, moulding time like honey to sculpt a dream from which one only stirred by the curtain’s fall.
Richard Alston Dance Company
Image: Chris Nash