Richard Alston Dance Company celebrates its 25th anniversary with Quartermark

29 Jan 2019


London premieres by Sir Richard Alston and Martin Lawrance
Music by Brahms (played live), Steve Reich and Michael Gordon

Sadler’s Wells
Friday 1 & Saturday 2 March at 7.30pm

Richard Alston Dance Company returns to Sadler’s Wells on 1 and 2 March with Quartermark, a programme celebrating 25 years of choreographic creativity, life-enhancing music and superb performers. Quartermark features two London premieres –  Sir Richard Alston’s Brahms Hungarian and Martin Lawrance’s Detour – and a revival of Alston’s 2006 work Proverb. This will be the first of the company’s final two seasons at Sadler’s Wells ahead of the company’s closure in March 2020.

Brahms Hungarian is set to Brahms’ wildly popular Hungarian Dances. Reflecting the Roma culture that has long fascinated him, Alston has wanted to make a dance to this music for years. Long-time Alston collaborator pianist Jason Ridgway plays live and the company’s nine dancers are carried along by fast steps and a joyous, abandoned fervour as they respond to the music’s rhythms. The stylish, elegant costumes are by theatre, film and tv designer Fotini Dimou, another regular member of Alston’s creative team.

On 8 and 9 February, the company will present an extract of Brahms Hungarian at Sadler’s Wells Sampled, the venue’s annual dance festival, alongside work by BirdGang, Mavin Khoo, Patricia Guerrero, Rambert2, Semperoper Ballett and Uchenna Dance.

Alston’s Proverb, to Steve Reich’s score for voices and percussion, is cool and serene – yet intensely moving. The proverb of Reich’s score is the chanted words of Ludwig

Wittgenstein “How small a thought it takes to fill a whole life” (from his 1946 work Culture and Value). Proverb was first seen in 2006 as part of the Barbican’s celebrations of Steve Reich’s 70th birthday. Alston celebrated his own 70th birthday in October and chose to revive this, one of his favourite pieces, as a birthday present to himself.

Martin Lawrance has honed his choreographic craft at Richard Alston Dance Company where he was one of the company’s dancers from 1995 to 2007. He began creating work in earnest in 2000 and since then has choreographed for Ballet Black, Scottish Ballet and Ballet Manila, amongst others.

Detour, Lawrance’s 13th work for Richard Alston Dance Company, is set to two contrasting percussion pieces, one tuned and one non-tuned. Akira Miyoshi’s Ripple for solo marimba allows the dancers to move in and out of fluid, rhythmical situations. Michael Gordon’s Timber for six percussionists playing amplified simantras, remixed by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, inspires an incredibly fast septet. The result is archetypal Lawrance – fierce, combative, thrilling choreography.  Zeynep Kepepli’s clever lighting design fragments the space beneath the dancers’ feet creating a sci-fi atmosphere on stage. Costumes are by Philippine fashion designer Jeffrey Rogador.

The company’s dancers are Elly Braund, Carmine De Amicis, Joshua Harriette, Jennifer Hayes, Monique Jonas, Nicholas Shikkis, Ellen Yilma and, apprentices through the Postgraduate Department of London Contemporary Dance School, Melissa Braithwaite and
Jason Tucker.

Sir Richard Alston was knighted for his services to dance in the 2019 New Year honours list.