Sadness, because this is one of the company’s final appearances (and the last at The Place) before it’s wound up in March next year, following an inexplicable decision by the Arts Council England to stop its subsidy.
These works, Alston told us in a brief address before the performance, show that ‘everything is connected’ and illustrate his gradual quest to ‘combine growing complexity with absolute clarity.’
In a programme full of memories, there was also a brief homage to the late American choreographer Merce Cunningham, whose centenary is celebrated this year.
Seeing a Merce Cunningham performance early in his career, said Alston, completely changed his life.
So, the first half of Final Edition ends with two Merce Cunningham solos, that were part of last April’s transatlantic Night of 100 Solos celebration, danced now as they were then by Alston dancer Elly Braund and the veteran Siobhan Davies, a former partner of Alston’s in his dancing days.
Davies cut an impressive figure. Rake-thin in her very late 60s, each movement was a marvel of definition. Clad in dark pants and top, she stalked the stage with stately assurance; in contrast with orange-clad Braund’s nervier, faster choreography, which offered fleeting flashes of bright colour, broken by still, demanding balances.
No matter how good other dancers are, nobody dances Alston like his own company. They interpret the expansiveness of his movement, the precision of his vertical jumps, tilted arabesques and reaching arms, and above all his intense musicality like no-one else, whether responding to Schubert in Blue Schubert Fragments or the contemporary dissonances of Jo Kondo’s music in Isthmus.
RADC, Isthmus. Photo: Tony Nandy
Bari, given its world premiere as part of Final Edition, is a new work made by Alston for graduating students from London Contemporary Dance School, which is housed in The Place and where Alston himself studied.
A light-hearted piece to South Italian music of PIzzica, a traditional dance to overcome the effect of poisonous spider bites, it is a delightful mix of the contemporary dance language the students are graduating on, and steps from Italian folk dance. It’s a joyful work, which the 10 students clearly relished dancing, and to which they gave their all.
Part 2 of the programme, consisting of Alston’s Red Run and Martin Lawrance’s Detour (pictured top), is darker. Red Run, inspired by the eponymous Heiner Goebbels score, is charged with uncharacteristic restlessness, shot through with an undercurrent of anxiety.
RADC, Red Run, Elly Braund. Photo: Chris Nash
Loosely about travelling across a hostile terrain, the six dancers of Red Run are clad in earthy colours, brown, beige and burnt orange, their staccato movements at times suggesting a tribal dance.
Martin Lawrance was once one of Alston’s star dancers; and his choreography is interesting in many ways, not least because although it is clearly identifiable as coming from the Alston stable, it has its very own unique identity.
The keyword for Detour could be ‘ferocity.’ Intense and possessed of a dark energy, Detour treats the encounters between its dancers as very physical confrontations. They dance to two pieces of percussive music (Akira Miyoshi and Jóhan Jóhansson), their clear syncopated beats adding to the disquieting atmosphere, which is enhanced by sombre, moody lighting (Zeynep Kepekli).
Final Edition is a powerful snapshot of what we’re about to lose. We should enjoy it while it’s there.
Age Guidance: 10+
FREE post-show talk 28 Nov with Richard Alston and Siobhan Davies.
|What||Alston, Final Edition Review|
|Where||The Place, 17 Duke's Road, London, WC1H 9PY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Euston (underground)|
27 Nov 19 – 30 Nov 19, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour 50 mins inc one interval.
|Price||£20 (concessions £13)|
|Website||Click here to book|