Pros: If you are not a seasoned fan of contemporary dance then this was a great introduction to some of the art form’s most innovative work.
Cons: The pieces were all very different and thus some will appeal to personal tastes more than others.
As we like to be honest at Everything Theatre I will say now that I know very little about the world of contemporary dance and, ashamedly, had never heard of Richard Alston until this week. I’ve since gathered, though, that he’s a pretty big deal (I’ve also seen this with my own eyes.) When he founded the Richard Alston Dance Company in 1994 he was already more than twenty years into his dance career, and has previously been Resident Choreographer and Artistic Director of Ballet Rambert. Currently he is the Artistic director at The Place and, now at twenty years old, his company is internationally renowned for its unique combination of innovative and entertaining work, which is intrinsically linked to, and in constant dialogue with, music.
So the Richard Alston Dance Company 20th Anniversary performance was pretty much what it said on the packet. With each night showcasing a selection of the company’s 2014/2015 repertoire, all conceived in response to a piece of music, and running from 20-30 minutes each.
The pieces, in running order, were: Rejoicing the Lamb – choreographed by Richard Alston; Burning – devised by the company’s associate choreographer Martin Lawrance; Nomadic – a collaboration between Alston and young dancer and choreographer Ajani Johnson-Goffe set to music from the Shukar Collective and finally Madcap.
All of the choices were enjoyable and in great contrast to each other demonstrating the tremendous range of the company’s portfolio but the stand out performance for me was Nomadic.
Nomadic was performed to music from the Shukar Collective’s album, Urban Gypsy. The collective use original ursani (Roma) music combined with new technology, resulting in a distinctive and up-to the-minute sound. Alston and Johnson-Goffe were inspired by the related themes of the nomadic soul, wandering, and the idea of the travelling group working together to survive. The outcome was very arresting and impressive. As I said I am not a seasoned fan of contemporary dance so I can’t comment too specifically on it but nonetheless I was transfixed from start to finish. The ensemble elements of the piece stood out – when all of the dancers were on stage the entire piece become pretty hypnotic. It was all incredibly slick and as the dancers glided around as if it all seemed as if it was the most effortless thing in the world.
Since experiencing Nomadic (enjoying its world premiere) I will definitely be following the Richard Alston Dance company’s and Ajani Johnson –Goffe’s movements fairly closely. It’s well worth checking it out– even, or infact, especially, if contemporary dance is a bit of an enigma to you!
The anniversary shows only ran on the 26th and 27th January at Sadler’s Wells but more information on where you can see the Richard Alston Dance Company’s 2014/2015 repertoire performed is here: http://www.richardalstondance.com/repertoire
Artistic Director: Richard Alston
Associate Choreographer: Martin Lawrance
Lighting Designer: Zeynep Kepekli
Costume Designer: Peter Todd
Dancers: Ihsaan de Banya, Nicholas Bodych, Elly Braund, Jennifer Hayes, James Muller, Nancy Nerantzi, Liam Riddick, Oihana Vesga Bujan.
Guest Dancers: Ajani Johnson-Goffe, Wayne Parsons
Apprentice Dancers: Simon Donnellon, Phoebe Hart.