Type of work
Launched in 1994 to great acclaim, Richard Alston Dance Company has grown into one of Britain’s most celebrated contemporary companies. The Company is based at The Place, London’s home for dance, where Alston is Artistic Director. Alston is one of the most inspiring and influential figures in British dance. He choreographed his first work in 1968 as one of the original students at London School of Contemporary Dance, directed this country’s first independent dance company, Strider, and was Artistic Director of Rambert Dance Company from 1986 to 1992. In building its repertoire, Richard Alston Dance Company focuses on Alston’s new choreography but combines this with the re-creation of seminal works from his career. Music plays a vital part in the Company’s identity and Alston is rightly admired for the musicality of his work.
On Movements From Petrushka
“You only have to watch two minutes from Movements From Petrushka to see Alston’s on a winning streak” The Guardian
On Blow Over
“Hop sparkles and powerfully massed ensembles” The Guardian
On Richard Alston
“Alston’s sparkle undimmed 40 years on” The Guardian
“We owe him laurels, cheers, and wish him many more years of creativity. Hurrah for Alston” Financial Times
“Still dazzling after all these years” Independent on Sunday
“The finest choreographer the British dance scene has ever known” The New York Times
“Like watching a highly tuned surgery team: by the piece’s end, two musical skeletons have been perfectly excavated from their surrounding flesh and lie shining before you” The Observer
On The Devil In The Detail
“Witty, chic…the whole inventive work is a delight” The Sunday Times
“Set to Japanese tango music, it relocates the feisty, erotic rhetoric of tango to a new 21st century cultural mix” The Guardian
“Shimmer looks amazing. It isn’t just his wonderfully reflective choreography or the seven fantastic dancers who perform it. It’s the extraordinary costumes of the fashion designer Julien Macdonald. They must be among the most ravishing ever created for dance…Alston’s barefoot dancers look as if they have been sprinkled with fairy dust. The effect is magical.” The Times
Blow Over (2009)
An exuberant, urgently driven, ensemble piece racing along to the exhilarating pulse of Songs From Liquid Days by Philip Glass.
Movements From Petrushka (1994, revived 2009)
A skilful reworking of images from the ballet Petrushka, specially revived to mark the 2009 centenary of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
Performed to Stravinsky’s own piano arrangement of his original ballet score.
Shuffle it Right (2008)
The songwriter Hoagy Carmichael recorded his own often witty lyrics in a low-key Southern drawl, a style he described as “Lazying”. In Richard Alston’s brand new Shuffle It Right, the songs Alston has chosen (Riverboat Shuffle, Georgia, Old Man Harlem and, of course, Star Dust) fairly scurry along with wry little licks and subtly punched out rhythm. It is toe-tapping, knee-jiggling music which gets the whole company moving.
Body & Soul (2008)
Schumann’s romantic Dichterliebe has inspired Martin Lawrance to make Body & Soul. The music deals with the obsessive and anguished suffering of a romantic lover. Lawrance chooses his music with care, and treats it with sensitive respect.
Richard Alston’s Fingerprint is choreographed to sublime keyboard pieces by Bach, including Capriccio and Toccata In D Major, which are played live onstage by the remarkable young pianist Jason Ridgway. Alston’s response to the bright and inventive flow that is the genius of Bach is a bright and forthright celebration of both subtlety and bravura.
Nigredo, a sequence of intimate and intricate duets, was created by Richard Alston for RADC’s acclaimed 2007 project with the Society for the Promotion of New Music, to piano music by the British composer Simon Holt.
Brink is inspired by some of the most unusual music Lawrance has used to date – Japanese tango music played on accordion.
Volumina, which premiered at the Cambridge Arts Theatre in October 2005, is Alston’s brand new work and is danced to Ligeti’s cavernous organ-piece. The mighty music fills the air with ghostly and subtle rustlings and sudden erupting note-clusters. It thunders round the dancers, who dart back and forth half-hidden in the shadows – Volumina is both spectacular and mysterious.
Gypsy Mixture (2004)
The guttural and fervent cries of Balkan singers form the basis of Alston’s new work Gypsy Mixture. Re-mixed by a fantastic range of DJs from all over the world, gypsy influences are given a sharp twist, a grittier edge. Gypsy Mixture is about humanity fighting to keep its spirit against harsh and uncertain surroundings.
“A glorious, life-enhancing ruckus; a caper across continents and dance style…gorgeous, exuberantly danced fun” The Herald
Shimmer is danced to the sun-drenched music of Ravel played live. Julien Macdonald’s fabulous, jewel-encrusted cobweb costumes illuminate dazzling streaks of limpid choreography in a ravishingly beautiful piece of theatre.
“Shimmer is one of the loveliest dances I shall see all year” Ismene Brown, The Daily Telegraph
Essential Alston workshops are led by highly experienced, professional dancers and accompanied by live music from one of our team of skilled musicians. They can be delivered at a date, time & venue that is convenient to you.
Find out more about Richard Alston Dance Company with Essential Alston, an extensive outreach programme, which offers dance workshops, resource materials, talks and reduced price tickets. Since 1995 their dynamic team of professional dancers and musicians have worked with thousands of people in schools and the wider community across the UK to give them an insight into the Company’s work.
Tel: 020 7121 1032
Size of company Middle scale
Permanent members of staff
Artistic Director: Richard Alston
Executive Director: Isabel Tamen
Rehearsal Director: Martin Lawrance
Production Manager: Zeynep Kepekli
Marketing Manager: Joe Bates
Sound Technician: Jonathan Young
Production Electrician: Nia Wood
Costume Supervisor: Rebecca Hayes
Essential Alston Programme Leader: Katherine Rothman
Company Administrator: Katie Fish
Company Osteopath: Peter Dunleavy
Andres De Blust-Mommaerts
*Apprentice dancers join Richard Alston Dance Company through the Postgraduate Department of London Contemporary Dance School. They complete awards of Postgraduate Diploma or Masters of Arts in Contemporary Dance.
Company Teachers (contemporary)
Richard Alston, Martin Lawrance, Sara Matthews, Jeannie Steele
Company Teachers (classical)
Raymond Chai, Antonia Franceschi, Renato Peroni
Richard Alston Dance Company, Blow Over
Photographer: Dee Conway
Dancers: Hannah Kidd & Wayne Parsons
Sadler’s Wells 2nd Oct 2008.