RICHARD ALSTON DANCE COMPANY – New Wimbledon Theatre, London.
The Richard Alston Dance Company present three short works at the New Wimbledon Theatre for one night only. A mainstay in the contemporary dance world, the company are in their 21st season this year, the work showcased here celebrates the joy of music and movement in equal measure.
The first work Nomadic, choreographed by Alston himself along with Ajani Johnson-Goffe, takes cues from the way of life of the Roma people. Music from the Shukar Collective’s album Urban Gypsy is used to inform the movement of the ten dancers. The fluid steps are assured and purposeful, the ten dancers working together with interconnecting steps and dancing in unison. The measured choreography is in some ways at odds with the urgent rhythm of the music, but the dancing is constant and keeps pace with the percussion, intensifying with the changing speed of the track. Long, easy extension morphs into smaller, more grounded and jerky steps as the music progresses. There is no narrative here, just the influence of a culture and a dynamic sound.
The other two pieces use both the music and life story of two classical composers as their foundations. Burning is full of passion and drama as the young countess Marie D’Agoult (Nancy Nerantzi) becomes infatuated with composer Franz Liszt (Liam Riddick) despite his romantic trysts with many other women. The turmoil of the relationship is mirrored in the frantic, turning steps but moments of stillness break up the fervour.
The last piece is An Italian in Madrid and features guest artist Vidya Patel performing Kathak, a traditional dance style from Northern India, in the role of Princess Maria Barbara. Her relationship with two men, Domenico Scarlatti, the composer (Ihsaan De Banya) and Prince Fernando of the Asturias (Liam Riddick) to whom she is betrothed. Dance styles combine beautifully as cultures come together and a spirit of joyfulness pervades the narrative. There is lightness to the piece; it is balletic in style with flowing costumes in warm colours designed by Fotini Dimou.
Richard Alston Dance Company presents a strong evening of experimental but accomplished work that is vivacious and soothing, diverse in style and influence, and accessible to both connoisseurs of the dance work and newcomers to the genre alike. The dancers are skilled and committed to their craft and have been given some exciting work to perform.
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By Catherine Duffy
10th May 2016
New Wimbledon Theatre, London SW19 1QG