If I had to sum up the Richard Alston Dance company in one word, it would be ‘Delicious.’ Pure protein in a world of hamburgers and hot dogs, these exceptional dancers captivated the audience with their repertoire of movement and beautiful shapes to unusual music. On the large open space of our Northern Stage Theatre in Newcastle they slowly drew us in. The lighting design was very very good – sometimes I think this is a more neglected part of the theatre experience but not in the case of this performance.
I hadn’t read much of the background stuff as I often prefer to come to things without preconceptions.
There was a Ballet Rambert feel running throughout the choreography and there is a very good reason for this as it turns out that Richard Alston himself is a former member of that famous ballet company. I saw them many years ago with my mum at the Theatre Royal and we were hooked.
|Brisk singing (and dancing)|
The company hasn’t been to Newcastle for twenty years. I for one was very pleased to see them venturing up here once more, however long it took them. One of the reasons I like the stage at this theatre is that it is close to the audience and can create a very intimate feel and indeed Alston himself agrees:
“What a wonderful theatre it is for dance! It really is one of the best in England. There’s the scale of it, for one thing. It’s such a big stage and very open – and so close to the audience.”
The dancers are incredible athletic and work extremely well together – the ensemble bits are usually my favourite – in particular some of the pairs sequences were stunningly good.
I loved Richard Alston’s description of what he is trying to do.
“I think dancing is a very joyful activity so what we do is very lyrical and flowing, exploring the relationship between music and movement. People seem to like what we do because it reaches out to them in a very straightforward way.”
“I’m trying to think in a new way about a very old thing which is that people move to music. It’s a very basic human activity, so I explore that.”
And that about sums it up. Don’t try and work out if there’s an actual story. In our literal world saturated with social media we always want to put an instant narrative on everything. This is a lovely world away from that.
Our favourite piece was Nomadic which we thought was to some sort of African music but turned out to be Asian influenced traditional Romany singing! Loved the music, the strong urban beats and the slight mix of street dance moves into the contemporary/ballet mix. What a good dancer can convey with a rhythmically dropped shoulder! It was quite thrilling.
Although not instantly accessible to the snap chat generation – but all the more special because of that – the Richard Alston Dance company produce a joyful life affirming dance experience. If you get the chance to see it I would highly recommend it.