Richard Alston Dance Company Autumn Tour 2017
The Richard Alston Dance Company embarks on a tour this autumn with four works including Carnaval, a new work by Richard Alston, premiering at Festival Theatre Edinburgh. The work is inspired by Carnaval, a brilliant piece for piano by German composer Robert Schumann, where characters from the Commedia dell’arte express the dual personality of the schizophrenic Schumann. The essence of Alston’s characteristic style of precise musicality and meticulous eye for detail is also distilled in his Chacony, which received its London premiere at Sadler’s Wells in June. Alston has also revived his much loved Gypsy Mixture (2004). Martin Lawrance’s Tangent will complete the programme with its live accompaniment by Jason Ridgway. Three different programmes comprise a triple bill of these works.
Richard Alston’s Chacony is inspired by Henry Purcell’s powerful Chacony in G minor (1680), and the Chacony from Britten’s String Quartet No. 2, conceived as a tribute to Purcell. Britten composed his Chacony in 1945 following a visit to the recently liberated concentration camps of Europe with violinist Yehudi Menuhin.
Alston explains his intention with the subject matter:
“I didn’t want to trivialise it. There is something very dark in the music that I wanted to get to grips with and express. I felt it should not be about obvious grief-stricken images but about people being very tender with each other. I can only imagine that when you have possibly lost several members of your family, if there’s someone close to you who’s still alive then they become that much more important to you. So that’s what I’ve been trying to make clear.”
Britten being Britten, the music does not end in despair but breaks through to finish in a series of major chords that reaffirm hope for the future.
This autumn the tour will also include Gypsy Mixture (2004), a great Alston favourite that has been newly revived for the first time in a decade. With exhilarating dancing to the infectious music of Romanian and Macedonian gypsy bands, the dancers swirl around each other with technical precision, as the combination of choreography and music conjure up vivid images of a group of people with their own identity. The malleable nature of identity is reflected in the fluidity of the dancers’ movements as they travel from place to place.
Alongside these works, there will be a brand new piece by Alston to Carnaval by Schumann played live by pianist Jason Ridgway – the music incorporates characters from the Commedia dell’arte including Harlequin, Pierrot and Columbine. Martin Lawrance’s Tangent is inspired by tango, Lawrance plays with the traditional movements and energy of the tango in this musically driven piece of contemporary dance.
The tour opens on Friday 22 September at The Festival Theatre in Edinburgh where the company will also lead an educational programme and open rehearsals. The educational programme will continue in Northampton and Brighton. In Northampton, Company dancer Ihsaan de Banya and Laura Gibson will choreograph a piece for Alston Inspired, the Arts Council England funded project with locally based dance company, Two Thirds Sky. 20 young people have been chosen from ten schools in the Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire area to perform a curtain raiser for Richard Alston Dance Company at Royal & Derngate Northampton.