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Richard Alston Dance Company: An Italian in Madrid, Burning, Nomadic – Review

Wimbledon marks the final stop in the latest tour of Richard Alston Dance Company. This diverse triple bill features three of the current pieces in rep, with some works featuring at some locations and not others, a nice idea to keep the choreography fresh and the dancer’s engaged.

An Italian in Madrid is a new work for 2016 and is classic Alston piece that straddles the contemporary and classical genres. Set to a rich Scarlatti piano score it tells the story of a young composer’s journey from Naples to Lisbon where he teaches music to a young Portuguese Princess (Vidya Patel) who is betrothed to a Spanish Prince (Liam Riddick). Kathak dancer, Patel, guest starring here, steals the show with her confidence and control, she is every inch the regal princess. Her natural elegance and style is showcased wonderfully in her solo, whereas Riddick’s Prince is strong and brooding in his. It’s a truly multi-cultural work which one would benefit from a second viewing to absorb the nuances and cultural references contained within.

Richard Alston Dance Company at Theatre Royal Brighton
Richard Alston Dance Company at Theatre Royal Brighton

The two remaining works are plotless in comparison, however still enjoyable for their intricacies and explosive energy. Nomadic is an experimental piece, less typically Alston although choreographed by himself with Ajani Johnson-Goffe, danced to a traditional score comprising of just spoons, wooden barrels and darabouka. These laid back dancers make an almost lethargic start that almost gives the sense of a rehearsal but repetitiveness of the music leads to a gradual rise in energy that climaxes in some extraordinary moments of the full cast in perfect synchronicity for extended periods of time in increasingly intricate movements, it’s hypnotic to watch, once they stop their breaths even in unison.

Martin Lawrence’s Burning is the most powerful, explosive and emotive piece of the evening danced to a rousing Franz Liszt score that builds to a stunning denouement. Zeynep Kepekli’s atmospheric lighting assists with the slow-burning tensions of Liszt (also the focus of the piece) and his on/off lover, Marie, (Nancy Nerantzi) a woman driven to madness by the relentless gaggles of women who surround him so suffocatingly. It’s an enjoyable piece for all its wild action, passion and anger that tells the story of turbulence and distress with a pleasingly dramatic ending. It’s full of frenetic, nervous energy that keeps the audience on edge throughout.

A dynamic evening’s work for these company dancers and at aged 67, Alston shows no sign of stopping, and it’s just as well, as he still appears to have plenty to say.

4 stars

Review by Vikki Jane Vile

Richard Alston Dance Company jumps into its third decade with characteristic panache, and a programme of works bearing the Alston hallmarks of musicality and grace.

Alston has created the brand new An Italian in Madrid to the sonatas of Scarlatti. The influence of Spanish music on Scarlatti continues Alston’s fascination with the fusion of different cultures and styles and to explore this, Alston has invited BBC Young Dancer grand finalist Vidya Patel to join his company for this exciting new dance.

Associate Choreographer Martin Lawrance’s extraordinary Burning is a smouldering dance as passionate and turbulent as its music, the Dante Sonata of Franz Liszt, played live onstage. Dancers Nancy Nerantzi and Liam Riddick have been nominated for the 2015 National Dance Awards for their performances in Burning, don’t miss your change to see them set the stage alight.

Alston’s Nomadic mixes Asian-influenced traditional Romany singing with the toughness of an urban beat. To explore the interaction between gypsy music and urban sound, Alston has collaborated with the young choreographer Ajani Johnson-Goffe in a career first.

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