Alston’s ability to animate music with choreography is displayed in all its glory in this triple bill of work. One moment, movement will match the melody in a way that almost challenges it to keep up, and the dancers seem game. The next, a dancer might halt and luxuriate in a reaching pose whilst the notes wash over.
The swirling, effervescent Roughcut has been revived once again since its creation in 1990, and retains the joyful, buoyant air of the young dancers it was originally made for. The forever circling momentum is beautifully augmented by the almost Tubular Bells-like live clarinet and guitar music, and is hooked by a flexed foot here and a bent elbow there. The piece builds up a playful air with twitching hips and deceptively casual movement, all adding to an increasing sense of the dancers having lots of fun.
Martin Lawrance, Alston’s protégé, stole the show with his Lie of the Land, which surprised and delighted in both its liquidity and sharpness. The opening solo, performed superbly by Andres de Blust-Mommaerts in shards of circular light, was gorgeous. The partner work felt very fresh, with inventive lifts and intertwining bodies, and sudden razor-sharp snatches worked wonderfully with the darker music.
A Ceremony of Carols flooded the stage with sixteen dancers and nineteen young choirboys, all in royal colours. With military precision the dancers excelled in their unison work, flying through the air repeatedly with ease. There was some lovely contrasting group work, the women unfolding smoothly in tight circles, the men sweeping across the stage. The main duet, using a simple yet powerful image of the cross, subtly conveyed the historically religious tones in Benjamin Britten’s music, and gave the piece a moment of emotional energy.
Richard Alston Dance Company are on tour around the UK.