Richard Alston Dance Company


Richard Alston Dance Company
The Lowry, Salford

Shimmer by Richard Alston Dance Company Credit: Chris Nash

The influences, on one of British dance’s most influential choreographers, are plain to see in a triple bill of work that includes two time-served crowdpleasers and a fiery new work that deserves to be numbered among them.

A good-sized early-week audience, for the one night appearance here, is also testament to the pulling power of a company headed by Alston, artistic director of the country’s centre for contemporary dance, The Place.

The Devil in the Detail opens the programme, an infectious and flirtatious suite of dances set to Scott Joplin’s rolling piano rags. The off-beat rhythms lend themselves well to freewheeling dance interpretation, as Kenneth Macmillan demonstrated back in the 70s with Elite Syncopations, also set to Joplin’s music—and which did not do a young Darcy Bussell’s reputation any harm.

The piano for Devil, and the following work, Shimmer, are performed live on stage by RADC’s long-time collaborator, pianist Jason Ridgway.

The second piece is set to the markedly different piano style of Ravel, but it is the deliberately androgynous costumes of the male and female dancers that catch the eye, shimmering just sufficiently in an elegant lighting design, all of which could have been borrowed from Diaghilev.

The mood, and the illumination, gradually darken dramatically while those cobweb designs in the clothing hint at characters caught in and out of relationships. Even a relatively subdued piece such as this reveals this company’s exquisite timing, technique and control.

Finally a challenging new work, Madcap, set to a score by American contemporary music specialists Bang on a Can All-Stars.

For once such purposeful musical dissonance works splendidly, as dancer Nathan Goodman sets the tone for choreography that bends its shapes to the sharp angles of the sound.

It’s fast, occasionally furious, but never less than hugely entertaining.

Reviewer: David Upton