Richard Alston’s Dance Company played their last performance at the Norwich Theatre Royal this last weekend. With a variety of performances under the title ‘Final Edition’, it seemed the production’s purpose was to show the spectrum of skill the company possessed.
Alston’s company, founded in 1994, has annually performed a display of dance, with Alston choreographing over 50 dances for the group. The company is closing in 2020, and so are on a final tour with the production shown at Norwich Theatre Royal.
This performance contained the dances: ‘Red Run’, ‘Mazur’, ‘Shine On’, ‘A Far Cry’ and ‘Voices and Light Footsteps’. In the show, music was used well to hold up the dances. The arresting ‘Red Run’ by Heiner Goebbels opens the performance, an experimental jazz piece that greatly contrasts to the operatic ‘Shine On’, and the more traditional Chopin of ‘Mazur’.
The strongest dance was the final one: ‘Voices and Light Footsteps’. Though the longest of the group, it managed easily to keep the audience’s attention. This piece seemed to have more of a clear narrative, following the well-known Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. This dance used its length well, benefiting from the opportunity to have long sections with the full company on stage, then contrasting to a single dancer, or a pair.
However, in my opinion, the most enjoyable dance was ‘A Far Cry’, choreographed by Martin Lawrence. ‘A Far Cry’ was much quicker and more upbeat than the rest. The speed at which the dancers could perform this dance, whilst still retaining absolute control and strength showed them at their strongest. The number of times the dancers had to lift their partners clean above their heads was enough to stun anyone. I think the production could have benefited from another dance along the lines of ‘A Far Cry’, as tonally the other dances were quite similar to one another.
The use of costume in the production was interesting — almost all of the dances stuck to a neutral, earthy colour palate. ‘Red Run’, on the other hand, danced in contrasting oranges and purples against an angry red backdrop. The costumes seemed dissonant, much like the anxiety and aggressive foreboding of the dance itself.
Much of the stage was left bare, the dancers themselves making up all of the staging they needed. Except for in ‘Shine On’ and ‘Mazur’, in which a pianist played live on stage. In ‘Shine On’ there was also a live singer present. I enjoyed having musicians on stage during these numbers. It was clear to see how the dancers interacted with the music; watching these dances made both the music and the dance feel alive, as though they were interacting directly with one another like conversing people.
Overall, the performance was a stunning show of the talent of the dancers and their choreographers. The performance thrived in its variety and stunned with its impossible feats of strength.