Richard Alston Dance Company opened their show at the New Theatre, Oxford with Martin Lawrance’s energetic and fast paced creation Detour, which was followed by six pieces by Alston himself. Lawrance leaves interpretation to the audience: according to the programme, he named his piece because he started with one idea, which changed as he worked, but he leaves it to the dance to reveal what those ideas were. Performed to a recorded marimba and percussion soundtrack, its zippy pirouettes and sharp split jetés interspersed with leaps into dramatic embraces displayed the company’s virtuosity, while suggesting an underlying theme of conflict.

Richard Alston’s own programme notes offer more clues to the thoughts, images, and circumstances that lie behind his dances. (more…)

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Although a range of contemporary dance companies come intermittently to the Playhouse it seems a very long time indeed since a ballet company has performed there. Possibly the closest in recent years have been BalletBoyz and Michael Clark, but these groups however rooted in ballet technique have moved far away from classical tradition and the pointe shoe; arguably Richard Alston’s elegant lyricism has had a more balletic feel. So Ballet Black’s unabashed embrace of classical technique in chamber format came as a welcome and refreshing change to the Playhouse’s usual dance diet. Eight performers of diverse backgrounds and physical individuality come together as an ensemble in their generous and idealistic dancing, relishing ballet’s lyrical line and romantic feeling in movement, engaging the audience with their enthusiasm in a programme of three new works tailor made for the company. (more…)