It was exciting to see a programme on Saturday that included Richard Alston’s Lachrymae and Illuminations in Benjamin Britten’s centenary year.  The company opened with The Devil in the Detail, to Scott Joplin’s music (piano accompaniment by Faith Leadbetter, the only “live” music in the programme).  Kenneth Macmillan’s Elite Syncopations is a hard act to follow, but Nancy Nerantzi led this gentler dance work with charm and grace, bringing out the delightful sense of fun in the choreography, which ripples through the music like a stream of water.  The only problem is the score, which although pleasure to listen to, doesn’t seem to go anywhere (and so neither can the dance).

Martin Lawrance’s Brink gave the cast more to get their teeth into, with particularly fine performances by the second couple, a very serious Oihana Vesga Bujan and Liam Riddick, clothed in black, and condensing the edgy feeling in composer Ayuo’s Eurasion Tango.

The subdued and mournful Lachrymae, to Britten’s variations on John Dowland’s If My Complaints Could Passions Move, changed the emotional pitch, as the dancers, bathed in yellow-orange light, lifted embraced and carried each other, like teardrops as they moved across the stage.

The evening culminated with Alston’s Illuminations.  This wonderful revival of a work first performed in 1994 under the title Rumours and Visions was worth the journey to High Wycombe in itself.  Riddick (Rimbaud) with his impeccable classical restraint and precise musicality was well pitched against Nathan Goodman (Verlaine), whose extraordinarily fluid, rubbery and gymnastic movement contrasted further with the aloof and remote Elly Braund in the role Being Beauteous.  The cast seemed to devour the space as Rimbaud’s nightmarish hallucinations overwhelmed him, forming patterns then breaking free, their detailed footwork set against gorgeous turning leaps with arms in open fifth.  Then at the end, we were left alone with Riddick, a dancer who clearly understands when less is more, his body turned away from the audience, reaching backwards, and yet forwards towards his future.

Maggie Watson

15 October 2013