For the first performance of their autumn season, The Richard Alston Dance Company brought three stunning dances to The Festival Theatre in Edinburgh. Alston is the artistic director of The Place, and has garnered renown throughout his 49 years as a choreographer. His contemporary dance company, founded in 1994, is known for its special relationship with music. In this performance, Alston’s vision was augmented by the simple yet striking nature of costumes designed by Jeffrey Rogador. The dances performed differed from each other completely which prevented the lengthy show from becoming dry, and displayed the company’s versatility.
We were introduced to the dancers with the world premiere of Carnaval, a sultry exploration of Schumann’s composition. The dance was accompanied by the muted strains of a live pianist seated at his instrument in the back corner of the stage. The dance follows the story of Schumann’s alter ego’s dual personalities acheter viagra as they attempt to woo a lover, Clara. Although I struggled to pick up on this subtle storyline as a viewer, the tension between Clara and the two male entities was palpable. The story was also emphasized by a heavy focus on solos and duets, which contrasted with the approach taken with the second two pieces. The greyish-purple hues of the dancers’ costumes coupled with their elegant movements and the soft music made it the subtlest performance of the trio.
Carnaval was closely followed by Chacony, which captured feelings of fear two musical selections: Purcell’s titular song, and Benjamin Britten’s arrangement. One haunting image from the opening dance that struck me was that of the dancers sitting in lines on the floor, clad in deep red robes reminiscent of Buddhist monks or the women from Hulu’s A Handmaid’s Tale. As the dance continued, its disturbing elements faded to an aura of hope that meshed perfectly with the tone of Britten’s music.
The final dance, Gypsy Mixture, was a complete departure from the quiet, classical vibes of the first two. It featured the only songs to involve vocals, and even animal noises, taken from a CD entitled ‘Electric Gypsyland.’ Alston captured Gypsy culture’s diverse influences through joyous dancing, vibrant costumes, and a hint of humour. It was satisfying to end the evening on such a happy note, and this was my favourite of the three sections.
However, perhaps the most exciting moment of the evening was the opening act: Re:Volution, a youth company hailing from Invururie. I found their group-based work intriguing, especially in moments where the dancers’ bodies aligned to create shapes onstage. It had an effect reminiscent of physical theatre. I have no doubt that these dancers have a bright future ahead of them.
Even someone completely unfamiliar with dance could enjoy watching the Richard Alston Company. The contrasts between the pieces kept my attention and made the experience feel fresh and exciting. The visual intrigue and talent displayed by the company members was enough to spark my interest in contemporary dance.
Guest Reviewer: Julia Weingaertner