Richard Alston’s distinctive style contains within it an echo of the early days of UK modern dance, but also a choreographic voice that has been honed over 50 years and continues to evolve, both in Alston’s own work and that of associate choreographer Martin Lawrance.
It is this clarity, and knowledge of his craft, that is most apparent in the programme, which marks the final performances of Richard Alston Dance Company. At the core lies one of Alston’s recent creations, Shine On, a work that combines his exacting precision with a distinct sense of space and simplicity. Set to music by Benjamin Britten and performed live by long-term collaborator Jason Ridgway and soprano Katherine McIndoe, there is nothing extraneous in this piece. It is clear and refined, gentle and joyful; the embodiment of a refined choreographic voice.
In his signature style, Lawrance’s A Far Cry takes technically challenging movement and allows it to soar. Feet skim the floor, bodies leap and tip off balance. The company performs this fast-moving and complex work with a passion that is uplifting to watch.
Alston’s dancers possess a unique understanding of their work. That is especially evident in the tenderness with which they dance the lengthy but eloquent Voices and Light Footsteps, a work that repeatedly shifts in tone and pace from joy to mournful introspection.
Throughout this programme, from the succinct and exacting purity of Isthmus, to the playful exchange between dancers and pianist in Mazur, one thing is clear: the pure joy of movement and music. To capture that with the clarity that Alston does is rare. Though the company may close, its works will continue.