Richard Alston Company, An Italian In Madrid Review: Culture Whisper says ★★★★★
An Italian in Madrid, Richard Alston’s newest creation, had its world première at Sadler’s Wells on Tuesday. And we can safely say it was a triumph.
Out of the four pieces in the programme, this was most eagerly anticipated for various reasons, not least the inclusion of the young Kathak dancer, Vidya Patel.
A finalist in the BBC Young Dancer 2015 competition where she represented the South Asian category, Vidya Patel is a dancer of rare poise, beauty and elegance. She was, however, trained in a discipline quite distinct from contemporary ballet, though no less rigorous. Would she fit in?
The answer is, yes - and then some!
Richard Alston created a fascinating cross-cultural piece, inspired by the sojourn in Spain of the Italian baroque composer, Domenico Scarlatti. Hired by the Portuguese court to teach music to the talented young Princess Maria Barbara, Scarlatti was to follow her to Spain when she became engaged to a Spanish prince.
There, influenced by the colour and culture of Andalucia, Scarlatti composed prolifically; and some his Keyboard Sonatas, played by pianist Jason Ridgway live on stage. provide the score for An Italian in Madrid.
Alston threads a subtle narrative through the piece, and harmoniously blends light touches of Southern Italian and Spanish folk dance, as well as South Asian Kathak, into his own distinctive choreographic language.
That it works so seamlessly is a tribute to Alston’s dance-making, as well as to his ten dancers’ ability to absorb new movement. Patel in particular, dancing the role of Princess Maria Barbara, is mesmerising. Clad in a cream coloured Indian-inspired costume, she is equally at ease in her predominantly kathak solo and in the company’s ensemble dances.
An Italian in Madrid is preceded by a varied selection of the company’s repertoire. Brisk Singing, dating back to 1997, is typical Richard Alston. Rated as one of the most musical – and joyful - choreographers working in Britain today, for this piece he chose the music of the French Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau, known in his day as “the god of dance.” A happy marriage then, and Alston’s company do it full justice.
Mazur, a duet for two men choreographed on a suite of Mazurkas by Frederic Chopin, has changed considerably since its première last Summer, and in the opinion of this reviewer not for the better, though I have no quarrel with the dancing of the wonderful Liam Riddick, ably partnered by Nicholas Bodych.
Stronghold comes from Alston’s Associate Choreographer Martin Lawrence. Although its choreographic language is recognisable as coming from the Alston stable, in this, the darkest piece in the programme, it’s more intense, sharper, more fractured. Julia Wolfe scored it for eight double bases. And this deep, insistent, often disturbing sound creates the tension that shapes the dancing in a stronghold, taken as “a place of survival or refuge.”
|What||Richard Alston Dance Company: An Italian in Madrid|
|Where||Wimbledon New Theatre, 93 The Broadway, London, SW19 1QG | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Wimbledon (underground)|
On 10 May 16, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Price||£15.90 - £26.90|
|Website||Click here to book via ATG Tickets|