This autumn acclaimed choreographer Richard Alston is reviving his classic piece Overdrive, exhilarating non-stop dance to the pulsating rhythms of Californian minimalist Terry Riley. The ten dancers of Richard Alston Dance Company will perform to Riley’s relentless musical patterning, in intricate movements and sounds.
Overdrive is one of 12 prescribed professional works for GCSE Dance on the AQA syllabus: Richard Alston Dance Company has produced a teacher’s resource pack to accompany this which can be downloaded from the beginning of the school autumn term at www.richardalstondance.com. Launched in 1994, Richard Alston Dance Company is one of the UK’s leading choreographer-led companies, for which its founder Artistic Director Richard Alston has created over 40 dance-works. Richard Alston is also Artistic Director of The Place, London’s leading centre for contemporary dance, where the company is based. The company focuses on Alston’s new choreography but combines this with the re-creation of past works from Alston’s career.
The company’s upcoming tour opens on 26 September with the world premiere of Martin Lawrance’s brand new commission from the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh. This new dance is inspired by the passionately intense Dante Sonata of Franz Liszt, which will be played live by pianist Jason Ridgway. Lawrance is rapidly becoming known for his musically alert and inventive choreography, including last season’s immensely successful Madcap for Richard Alston Dance Company. Alongside Overdrive, the programme is completed by Alston’s most recent work Rejoice in the Lamb.
Another highpoint of the season will be the company’s return to Peak Performances, Montclair State University, New Jersey in that the company has been selected to celebrate Peak Performances’ tenth anniversary. An all-live music evening includes Rejoice in the Lamb, to the music of Benjamin Britten, sung live by Vocal Accord. This is only the third time it has been performed with a live choir. Also performed live will be Hölderlin Fragments, an intimate cycle of Britten songs for voice and piano, and Illuminations, Alston’s 1993 choreography of Britten’s masterpiece.
Richard Alston Dance Company has recently announced its spring tour for 2013, providing audiences all over the UK with the chance to see an inspirational company take to the stage and feed the artistic hungers of the audience. The tour will takes the company’s 10 dancers to 17 theatres around the UK for 26 performances featuring 6 repertoire pieces and 1 world premiere.
The tour will open in London at the New Wimbledon Theatre on 9 February 2013 with the world premiere of Richard Alston’s Buzzing Round the Hunnisuccle. This brand new commission from the San Francisco based Columbia Foundation continues Alston’s long-held fascination with the music of Japanese composer Jo Kondo. The evening will also contain the newly revived and revised The Devil in the Detail, a joyous and effervescent dance to Scott Joplin’s rags.
Later in the tour, the programme will include Shimmer, one of Alston’s best loved masterpieces, to the evocative music of Ravel, with delicate crystal-encrusted cobweb costumes by fashion designer Julien Macdonald. Roughcut will also be danced to Steve Reich’s New York and Electric Counterpoints, a euphoric display of pure energy, and Unfinished Business, choreographed to the beautiful, lucid and flowing K533, by Mozart. The spring repertoire will be completed by a revival of Lachrymae, set to the compassionate and tender music of Benjamin Britten, a piece originally commissioned in 1994 by The Aldeburgh Festival. This intense piece spins emotional variations on a gentle song by John Dowland which is quiet but deeply moving.
The spring season will culminate in a special event at the Barbican on 29 May as part of the season Dancing Around Duchamp. Richard Alston Dance Company will perform a one-off event, with choreography by Merce Cunningham, one of the true visionaries of modern dance, especially meaningful for Alston himself who studied with Cunningham from 1975 to 1977.
The Richard Alston Dance Company Autumn tour 2012 sees the company’s 10 dancers taking to the stage for 16 performances throughout UK, and in the US, leotards and all. The tour opens in London at The Place, Robin Howard Dance Theatre, (3-6 October), for the annual At Home season, and ends in New Jersey, at Montclair State University, (13-16 December), as part of the internationally renowned Peak Performances series.
Prior to the tour’s beginning, the company took part in the Design Museum Ball as part of the London Design Festival 2012, performing a one-off special event of contemporary dance on 21 September. A series of dance moments was created especially for the evening with the dancers wearing a set of dazzling crystal-encrusted costumes created for them by fashion designer Julien MacDonald. The audience discovered dance episodes scattered throughout the museum with sculptural forms, digital projections and crystal-inspired visual effects creating a dramatic backdrop against which the dancers engaged with the space. The event was inspired by the literary heroine, Miss Havisham for Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, with those wearing a wedding dress, rather than leg warmers, rewarded free entry to the ball.
The tour following this event will contain pieces Shimmer, Isthmus and Madcap. Shimmer is danced to the music of Ravel, played live with Julien Macdonald’s jewel-encrusted cobweb costumes illuminating the choreography in a beautiful piece of theatre. The barefoot dancers emanate thoughts of fairy dust with magical effect. Isthmus will be performed for only the second time following its premiere at A Celebration for Bob Lockyer at The Place in April 2012. Alston uses the music of Jo Kondo, whose composition Isthmus moves with rapid light rhythms, both sharp and delicate to present nimble and breathtaking precision. Following his recent commission by Scottish Ballet to mark the 2012 Olympics, Martin Lawrance has created Madcap as an original, new choreography, creating a powerfully charged work.
Image courtesy of The Place.