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Richard Alston Dance Company at Sadler’s Wells, London – ‘matchless musicality’

Richard Alston Dance Company's Chacony at Sadler's Wells. Photo: Chris Nash Richard Alston Dance Company's Chacony at Sadler's Wells. Photo: Chris Nash
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Richard Alston Dance Company’s latest programme sees the return of Alston’s 2004 work Gypsy Mixture alongside the recently created Chacony – but it’s associate choreographer Martin Lawrence’s Tangent that proves the highlight of this bill.

From pianist Jason Ridgway’s impassioned playing, to the intricate leg wraps that Lawrence weaves into his clean and linear movement style, Tangent bristles with the influence of Argentine tango. Created for Astor Piazzolla’s piano solo The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, Lawrence’s choreography is at one with the music.

Danced by four couples, the mood of the work shifts with each partnership; sometimes soft, sometimes fierce and passionate.  It may not be obvious that the four sections of this work reflect the seasons but it flows seamlessly. The fast-paced sections, where the dancers fly with the music, are exhilarating to watch.

In contrast, Alston’s Chacony opens with a courtly formality, the dancers dressed in red tabards. Soon however they change into soft pastels, and the understated elegance of this work comes to the fore. Set to the music of Benjamin Britten the work has a melancholic air, but in its calm and quiet refinement there is great honesty and purity.

The return of Gypsy Mixture is an intriguing choice. Inspired by the music and dance of travelling people, Gypsy Mixture is performed to an eclectic soundtrack that incorporates voice, percussion, and brass, among other influences.

With its skipping steps, jumps and fast footwork the piece has a lively, folk-dance feel. The work conveys a vague sense of the stories of these people, but it doesn’t delve particularly deeply. Instead, it rests upon the collective spirit of its dancers and the vibrancy of its opening and closing sections.

Verdict
A strong mixed bill that captures the matchless musicality of the company
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