It’s always a pleasure to catch up with the Richard Alston Dance Company, on tour until the end of November. It’s been 18 months since I last saw them! The current programme of three highly entertaining pieces is a joy to watch and confirms (to my mind at least) that the company is the most skilled bunch of dancers doing contemporary work in the UK.
We started off with Unfinished Business, choreographed by Richard Alston to three movements by Mozart. It’s clean, crisp and athletic, but also thoughtful and reflective. It’s very much helped by the plaintive piano music played beautifully by Jason Ridgway. The second movement is a tender duo superbly danced by Anneli Binder and Pierre Tappon, which delighted the audience so much they broke into applause before it had finished. I also really enjoyed the sunny liveliness of Hannah Kidd’s performance. But the star of this piece was the terrific solo work by Liam Riddick, who I haven’t seen before but whom I predict Will Do Great Things.
They didn’t call the end of the first interval and Mrs Chrisparkle and I were so enjoying our Sauvignon Blanc that we only retook our seats ten seconds before the curtain rose on the second piece, Lie of the Land. This is a new(ish) dance choreographed by Martin Lawrance who was always my favourite dancer with the company in the past. This is another superb piece, full of vitality and style, bringing out the best again in Ms Binder and Mr Riddick, but also a fantastic performance by the wonderfully named Andres de Blust Mommaerts. It was a piece that reminded me of why I love contemporary dance, something I haven’t felt in a theatre for a long while.
Finally we had the return of Roughcut, originally created by Richard Alston for Rambert in 1990 – and I think I remember it. Now reconstructed (whatever that means) by Martin Lawrance, it’s another exuberant, engaging piece danced to electro rhythms with full-on joy. If I have a criticism, it’s that there wasn’t (as it seemed to me) overall much of a contrast of mood and style from the previous dance. The costumes for all three dances were all similarly neutral and plain, which again didn’t provide an additional visual stimulation to differentiate them in my brain. But this is the most minor quibble. All the dancers were on top form and it’s a highly entertaining performance.
When it’s done at its best, I still believe that dance is the purest and most eloquent form of entertainment you can see on a stage. That’s what I witnessed last night.