When the Place opened in 1969, Richard Alston was among its first students. Next year his own company, based at the school, will close. These final performances are not just a farewell to a building and an era, but to a home.
The programme opens with an excerpt from Nowhere Slowly (1970), Alston’s first work, followed by Blue Schubert Fragments (1972). These early works are a study in simplicity: the movement unadorned, the costumes plain, the stage bare. They embody Alston’s choreographic ethos and, as the programme unfolds, so does a map of his career.
Bari (2019), created on third-year students of the Place, lends a lively, carefree approach to technique and form while Isthmus (2012) and Red Run (1998) sit somewhere between these two worlds. Isthmus embodies the clarity and space that characterise Alston’s early works but, as its four dancers interweave, an added layer of complexity emerges. Red Run develops this complexity with the meticulous detail of its choreography, shifting pace and dark undertones.
Associate choreographer Martin Lawrence echoes a similar tone in Detour (2018). Here Alston’s characteristic precision is edged with the thrill of speed. Leaps burst seemingly from nowhere and partnerships constantly shift, the duets quick and intricate.
This programme is a celebration as much as a farewell, a gesture evident in the solos selected from the Barbican’s Cunningham Centennial celebrations, performed by former company dancer Hannah Kidd and Siobhan Davies who, alongside Alston, arrived at the Place 50 years ago. This is not just a choreographic overview, but the essence of all Alston has explored across the years.