Carnaval: Richard Alston (choreography), Robert Schumann (music), Jason Ridgway (pianist), Zeynep Kepekli (lighting), Fotini Dimou (costumes).
Chacony: Richard Alston (choreography), Purcell & Britten (music), Karl Oskar Serdal (lighting), Peter Todd (costumes).
Gypsy Mixture: Richard Alston (choreography), Martin Lawrence (restaged), Electric Gypsyland CD (music), Charles Balfour (lighting), Peter Todd (costumes).
Richard Alston Dance Company: Ihsaan de Banys, Nicholas Bodych, Elly Braund, Jennifer Hayes, Monique Jonas, James Muller, Liam Riddick, Eileen Yilma, Ania Jurek, Nicholas Shikkis. (dancers)
Tonight’s performance opens with a personal appearance from Richard Alston himself, introducing a youth dance company he’d spotted at the U Dance Festival, in Birmingham, earlier this year. A cheer goes up for Re:Volution, a group of young teens from Inveraray who’ve clearly brought some support along this evening. They give an engaging performance, making interesting tableaus and shapes to a cool backing track of pulsing, rhythmic beats.
After a short pause, the Richard Alston dance company perform their first of three dances, Carnaval, with choreography by Richard Alston and Schumann’s music performed live on stage by acclaimed pianist, Jason Ridgway. The dance is described as depicting Schumann’s split personality, the cool and confident side of his nature battling to calm the turbulent energy of his troubled alter-ego.
But while the lyrical, balletic duets and group formations are pleasing and danced with care and skill, the contrast into darker moments never really materialises. A sense of wild abandonment, of passionate feeling, is hoped for and sometimes tantalisingly almost glimpsed, but it disappointingly fades back into the safety of a pleasantly controlled routine before anyone has the chance to get too excited about anything.
Chacony, again choreographed by Richard Alston, with music by Purcell and Britten, is another polite performance of two halves. On an empty stage and this time with recorded music, the dancers, donned in floating, wine-red frock-coats, make a striking image. The fabric shifts and moves with the performers, lightly enhancing their deliberately formal shaping and movement.
Then off come the coats as we segue into the second part, signalling a change of mood. The dance is now more free and less formal, but remains frustratingly well-mannered and self-contained. A nearly-great duet fails to hit the mark only because the dancers appear to care more about the careful placing of their feet than they do about connecting with each other.
Gypsy Mixture is the final dance and bursts onto the stage with a vibrant, upbeat energy and matching soundtrack. This is a funky, quirky choreography from Alston, giving the dancers an opportunity to let their hair down and have some fun. It’s highly entertaining yet, like a smile that never reaches the eyes, the passion and joy of their movements stirs no expression from the neck up, as the faces of the dancers maintain their determined, concentrated stare. The quality of dance within this company is not in question but this feels more like a run-through than a full-blown performance.
Ran 22nd September