In celebration of its 25th and last season of work, the Richard Alston Dance Company is embarking on an international farewell tour. The kind of endeavour you might normally associate with the break-up of a major band, or with Cher – who is perennially on her last tour, and I think has been saying farewell since at least the beginning of the last century, as is the whim of an eternal being. The scale feels only a bit different for Alston and his dancers. Final Edition: Oxford [1] is a culmination of many lives at work together, expanding the practices of modern, postmodern, and contemporary dance in the United Kingdom.

Because of his eponymous title the Etonian has a claim to canonical status and this tour could have become an overwrought monument to privilege and ego. Instead, what we witnessed in Oxford’s New Theatre on Wednesday night was a homage to a history of dance, branded, and shaped by Alston, advanced by collaborator Martin Lawrance, and most importantly, pulled off with immense style, presence, and love by a company of extraordinary dancers. (more…)

This was a stunning evening of new dance works, alongside extracts from Kenneth MacMillan’s newly revived ballet Playground.  The curtain raiser Who’s It?!, choreographed collaboratively by Edd Mitton and Jordi Calpe Serrats with students from the Centre for Advanced Training at Swindon Dance Centre, was an ingenious preparation for MacMillan’s deeply disturbing work with its references to children’s games. In the duets from Playground that followed, Oxana Panchenko as the Girl with make-up and Jonathan Goddard as The Youth portrayed an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship, enmeshed within violent and coercive social forces, in a ballet that pushes game-playing to a horrible conclusion. (more…)

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…)

Richard Alston has been making dance for 50 years and launched his Richard Alston Dance Company 25 years ago. Both these anniversaries deserve celebrating with a special programme full of trademark lyrical choreography, new lively dances and revivals of successful works. With the announcement of the company closing in 2020, this tour will also be the penultimate chance to see a live performance by what is undoubtedly one of the world’s best dance ensembles.

Associate Choreographer Martin Lawrance will premiere his new work Detour set to Michael Gordon’s pulsing Timber with costumes by Jeffry Rogador and lighting by Zeynep Kepekli setting off Lawrance’s customary fast paced style and complicated patterns through space.

This piece will accompany a celebratory revival of Proverb, one of Alston’s most telling choreographies, to the serene and cool vocal work of Steve Reich washing over intricately complex dancing. Created in 2006 as part of Reich’s seventieth birthday celebrations at London’s Barbican, this is the first time the piece has been revived.

Culminating the evening will be Richard Alston’s exciting new work Brahms Hungarian. The hugely popular Brahms pieces, music that Alston had planned on choreographing to for years, will be played live onstage by RADC’s outstanding pianist Jason Ridgway. Full of passionate drive and joyful gusto, the dancers are carried along by fast steps and an abandoned fervour. Costumes are by award-winning designer Fotini Dimou with lighting by Zeynep Kepekli, both regular collaborators of Alston.

Performance:  Thursday 7th February 7.30pm

Venue:  New Theatre, George St, Oxford OX1 2AG

Tickets:  £13 – £26.90 Book online here

Find out more about the company here

Cut and RunChoreographer: Martin Lawrance

The fierce cut and jib of this work was evident from the first moment: music and movement battled for dominance, both rhythmic and rigorous. The choreography had a disjointed quality; the many pauses – some fleeting and others broad – prevented a sense of fluid motion. However this suited the music, which had pounding yet uneven rhythms and was often a cacophony of sound. The dancers rarely moved together; instead they seemed to fight, to exist alone, and to defy and reject each other. The level of technical command was impressive: each movement (or sudden stillness) was precise and controlled, and the dancers negotiated dizzying transitions between standing, lying, rolling and turning. (more…)

Richard Alston Dance Company returned to Oxford this week for one evening at the New Theatre. The programme opened with Martin Lawrance’s Cut and Run, to music by Michael Gordon and Damian LeGassick for ten dancers dressed in ‘urban wear’ with metallic decoration that glinted in the dim light. Starting and stopping, dodging and colliding, they broke out of the purple patch of illumination that seemed at first to confine them, and spread across the darkened stage. An interval of silence, then the lights changed to orange, adding a fresh sense of urgency to their frantic race, until the work concluded, with the dancers once more bathed in a purple glow. (more…)

Last week, Richard Alston Dance Company brought Oxford Playhouse a programme that was all about surprising encounters: tango and contemporary dance; Britten and Purcell; Scarlatti and Andalusia; Indian and Western classicism.

The evening opened with Martin Lawrance’s Tangent, a clever take on tango for four couples, set to Piazzolla’s Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas, which was played at the grand piano on stage by Jason Ridgway. Lawrance uses steps such as picked up foot-crossing walks, sharp changes of direction and occasional close holds to hint at tango, but this contemporary dance piece is not at all like ‘Strictly’, although there is plenty of spectacle. (more…)