The final ever performances of Richard Alston Dance Company
Mark Monahan, The Daily Telegraph, September 2019
Richard Alston Dance Company has announced the programme for its final ever performances at Sadler’s Wells on 7 & 8 March 2020, the climax of the Final Edition Tour.
For Shine On, his last work for his company of 25 years, Alston, who was knighted for his services to dance earlier this year, has chosen the music of Benjamin Britten, the composer he has choreographed to more than any other. Shine On is danced to Britten’s 1937 song cycle On This Island, his first for voice and piano. It is set to five poems by WH Auden, two of which are dedicated to Britten himself. The poems are typically complex and virtuosic whilst Britten’s setting of them is unusually stark. At Sadler’s Wells, it will be performed live by soprano Katherine McIndoe and pianist Jason Ridgway. Shine On was specially commissioned by DanceEast and Snape Maltings and first performed at Snape Maltings.
Alston’s 2015 work Mazur is set to Chopin Mazurkas (again played live by Ridgway) expressing the composer’s longing for his homeland while in exile in Paris. Especially revived for a new cast this season, it is a warm, humorous duet which sees two friends share what they love and what they have lost.
Alston’s poignant Voices and Light Footsteps is inspired by the sensuously expressive vocal madrigals and instrumental sinfonias of Baroque composer Claudio Monteverdi, whose music Alston believes sounds as extraordinary now as it would have done when it was written. The name is taken from Henry James’ description of Venice in the evening and Alston used it once before, for a piece made for Ballet Rambert in 1984. Voices and Light Footsteps has lighting design by the company’s Associate Choreographer, Martin Lawrance.
Lawrance’s fast visceral choreography is usually set to highly contemporary scores. But for A Far Cry he has turned to Edward Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro Op 47 – and created what might be his finest work yet for the company. Lawrance has worked with Richard Alston Dance Company since 1995 when he joined as a dancer. A Far Cry tries to balance the sadness of saying goodbye whilst celebrating the achievements and joy.
The programme opens with a Curtain Raiser made by Alston for graduating students of London Contemporary Dance School where he studied from 1967 to 1970. Bari is inspired by south Italian Pizzica, music for a traditional dance to overcome the effect of poisonous spider bites.
The company’s dancers are: Elly Braund; Niall Egan (apprentice); Alejandra Gissler (apprentice); Jennifer Hayes; Joshua Harriette; Monique Jonas; Nahum McLean; Jason Tucker; Nicholas Shikkis; Ellen Yilma;
Richard Alston is one of the founding fathers of contemporary dance in the UK. He says: “I want to believe that these dancers will shine on, they definitely will. And I also nurture an optimistic hope that some of my work will shine on too.”