Richard Alston Dance Company – review

Richard Alston Dance Company hit the Norwich theatre scene earlier this month with two breath-taking performances. Having celebrated the centenary of composer Benjamin Britten, Alston choreographed several stunning routines to Britten’s compositions.


Photo: Theatre Royal Norwich

It was interesting watching this show with someone who knows very little about dance, and intriguing to hear her perspective by the end of it – having seen a number of Alston’s works, one is familiar with how demanding the works can be, requiring the fullest attention in order to really appreciate it. As someone who feels as though modern dance should endeavour to encapsulate the attention of a broader audience, including those who don’t necessarily have a background in dance, it was important to hear her opinion. She loved it.

The first dance, Rejoice in the Lamb, was intense but interesting; the dancers were suited in very traditional costumes but danced in a very untraditional way – a clever and subtle irony. Untraditional in the way that men danced with men and women danced with women in an arguably provocative manner. Very different to what you would expect to see in traditional dance attire, and equally as beautiful. Speaking briefly with Richard Alston himself during one of the short intervals, he told me that he wanted the men to look like ‘mythical creatures’, and they did, they were utterly mesmerising.

One thing that was irritating, and this is a personal thing, was the use of flexed feet. As with most modern dance, flexed feet is regularly used and is used to denote many things, however the use of flexed feet in the opening act seemed unnecessary and untidy.

The Unfinished Business duet was stunningly accurate: a powerful physical dialogue in which the couple seemed to effortlessly fold into one another. The dancers, Elly Brand and James Muller, were emotionally stimulating and inspiring.

The final part, Madcap, choreographed by Martin Lawrence, was comprised of two dances, Lick and Believing. This entire element of the show was more upbeat and became increasingly so, the movement was dramatic and enticing, the non-dance expert sat to the right was noticeably captivated, she didn’t take her eyes off the stage. There was this penetrating moment of silence when the dancers were completely frozen in a position, and one man in grey moved gracefully around the stage, weaving in and around the frozen figures.

The entire performance was thoroughly enjoyable; the fecund choreography – much like Richard Alston’s Overdrive – had a kind of irregular fluidity. Although the dances didn’t necessarily correspond to one another, the entire show seemed whole and charismatic. It was brimming was creativity.


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Zoe Jones

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October 2021
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