Published 6 April 2011: Wimbledon Guardian
Serious stuff from a serious company
Celebrated choreographer Richard Alston has led his own company since he took up the position of Artistic Director of The Place in 1994. Since then the Richard Alston Dance Company have established themselves as one of the world’s most innovative dance groups so it was good to see them at the New Wimbledon Theatre on April 1 with their new show of three short abstract works.
Alston’s Out Of The Strong opened proceedings. Set to Prokofiev’s elusive Piano Sonata No.6 it typically paid great attention to the contrastingly discordant and lyrical music. With the nine dancers dressed in war-time clothes the choreographic mix of Classical, Contemporary and Swing convincingly emphasised the political and social changes that were resounding around the world when Prokofiev finished the sonata in 1940.
Martin Lawrance’s Lie Of The Land opened with a beautiful silent solo from the excellent Colombian dancer Andres de Blust-Mommaerts but it soon developed into a tiring series of tug-and-pull duets to the multi-pronged sounds of Ned Rorem’s fourth String Quartet.
After the physical battles of the previous two works it was great to see the pure expression of joy that exploded in Alston’s Roughcut, especially in the jaunty jazziness of the New York Counterpoint section and in the superbly athletic balancing of Nathan Goodman and Anneli Binder. The choice of Steve Reich’s music also demonstrated how Prokofiev’s vision of the conflict between the Classical and the Modern has become increasingly harmonised in recent years.
Throughout the evening the dancing was terrific. Technically assured, with smooth expansive movement and tremendous energy, all the dancers dazzled. Expressive and engaging though the choreography was it was more an exercise for the brain than the heart and the night lacked a visual ‘wow’ factor to make it a truly exceptional occasion; the plain costumes and low-key lighting also helped maintain Alston’s dedication to the formal rather than the theatrical.