Last night I watched the Richard Alston Company perform at Malvern Theaters . As soon as I saw this advertised months ago I booked myself a ticket, not very often does contemporary dance of this standard visit this sleepy area, so I was very quick off the mark. The company was established in 1994 and has produced a vast amount of work since. This performance featured a selection of Alston’s work from the past 20 years.
The first piece, Detour choreographed by Martin Lawrence was quite an intense piece to watch. The lighting design by Zeynep Kepekli was so outstanding. The slashes of light across the floor were a really nice addition and divide of the stage. The middle section of the performance included four sections from four of Alston’s works. Fever (2001), Shimmer (2004), Bach Dances (2018) and Signal of a Shake (2000). All four showed the diversity of Alston’s work, form change in music and movement content. Next up was Proverb, I think this was my favourite piece of the night. For me there was just something so beautiful to it that is hard to explain in words. It all came together so perfectly. The dancers contact together and the lifts between them. Finally, the cast performed Brahms Hungarian. I was most looking forward to this piece as it had been used for all of the promo pictures. This piece was so charming. It was the first time all evening the dancers made eye contact with the audience and smiled between each other which made it more entertaining to watch, it was a lot of fun. This piece was also accompanied by a live, on stage pianist which I always think helps to add another level to a dance work.
I couldn’t write this without mentioning the dancers themselves. The lines were beautiful the quick turns, leans and jumps were so lovely to watch. They all really stood out in their own individual moments, everyone was equal. I think one of the things I enjoyed the most was Alston’s use of formations. One second you are watching a duet and before you’ve blinked it has seamlessly turned into a trio and then a quartet. So, detailed in the way they joined together though a simple jump or a turn. Alston’s use of repetition was also very subtle but used very cleverly to enhance the intertwining sequences between the dancers. As a dancer myself, watching something like this I become a little jealous as it inspires me to get up with them or to choreograph something.
Overall, I believe it was an outstanding example of Contemporary Dance. As a dancer I am often asked ‘What is contemporary dance’, this this was contemporary dance! I could probably talk all day about this, but I won’t. This selection of work is only being performed at very selective places which I believe includes Saddlers Wells.
I dragged along my boyfriend Jack, I thought I would include his non-dancer comments to compare them to mine. I always used to like getting my Dad’s opinion on my own dance shows as it gave an interesting outsiders insight and always seemed like a more genuine comment, Jack said… ‘The different dances were good ie, solos and the whole company. It was something different to go and see, there wasn’t a story behind each piece but you could just let your imagination go and put your own story to it kinda thing. It was also a lot different to what you see as ‘dance’ on the tv, it was more the art of dance rather than a people pleaser like on tv.’ Thanks Jack, see he makes some good point for a non dancer!
Chloe May x