Dance Review: Richard Alston Dance Company at Sadler’s Wells

Contemporary dance as refreshing as lemonade on a bright summer’s day from Richard Alston Dance Company

Modern dance can sometimes be a terribly serious affair - but the Richard Alston Dance Company is anything but.

Alston is artistic director at The Place in Camden, one of the UK’s premiere centres for contemporary dance, and his company showcase a triple bill of choreography at Sadler’s Wells with both flair and technique.

The performance opens with Roughcut, choreographed by Alston 20 years ago to celebrate the energy of young dancers. It is as refreshing as lemonade.

Spring countryside sound and bouncy exuberance fill the stage as couples dance and classic ballet lines are aborted into linear moves, flexed wrists, upturned feet. The choreography is fluid and angular but sweeping, as kicks and jumps soar like bright summer days.

Second up was Lie of the Land, a series of solos and duets choreographed by Martin Lawrence about “ever-restless changes in music” which had a cool cheeky charm. Notes of hip hop are referenced in the dance as legs lift followed by a stop, twist, twist and live electric guitar notes pulsate. You feel the delight of peeking at a dance rehearsal in a meadow on a hot day.

The choristers of Canterbury Cathedral Choir join the dancers on stage for the showcase number of the evening, A Ceremony of Carols, which sees Alston’s choreography set to music by Benjamin Britten. So beautiful is the angelic sound that your eye is drawn by the choristers rather than the dancers. However, this is a small quibble from an invigorating night of contemporary choreography.

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* Performed at Sadler’s Wells in Rosebery Avenue, EC1, from February 29 to March 1.