Richard Alston Dance Company celebrates 20 years of pioneering contemporary arts

RADC, dancers Liam Riddick and Oihana Vesga Bujan. Picture: Chris Nash

RADC, dancers Liam Riddick and Oihana Vesga Bujan. Picture: Chris Nash - Credit: Archant

The company’s founder tells Alex Bellotti how dance and music will together for four special shows at Sadler’s Wells.

Regarded as one of the founding fathers of UK contemporary dance, Richard Alston has constantly strived for innovation with his holistic approach to dance’s physical and musical potential.

The Gospel Oak resident was one of the original students at London Contemporary Dance School and, following a stint as artistic director of Rambert, he took up the same role at The Place in Islington, where he finally formed his own company.

Now into its third decade, the Richard Alston Dance Company is performing a special series of shows at Sadler’s Wells over January 26 and 27 to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

“As long as it’s exciting, I don’t mind,” says the 66-year-old of his production style and the diversity of the anniversary programme is testament to such flexibility.

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Of the four distinct shows involved – entitled Rejoice in the Lamb, Burning, Nomadic and Madcap – one is a world premiere, two are London premieres and the other is a Sadler’s Wells premiere; their musical inspirations range from Benjamin Britten to Ursari Gypsy, with the world premiere, Nomadic, featuring a collaboration with prodigious young hip hop choreographer and performer Ajani Johnson-Goffe.

Reflecting on the reasons why he set up the RADC in 1994, Alston says: “I really wanted to work with music; I wanted to concentrate on the relationship between how music can enrich dance and how dance can enrich music.

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“Musicians usually like working with us a lot because we know what they’re doing. Some choreographers just stick it on like a background, but I’m really interested in how music can double the audience’s enjoyment, especially if you use very strong music that’s worth listening to.”

The dates will also feature collaborations between Alston and Martin Lawrance, a long time collaborator with the company who also danced with it for 15 years. This continued relationship, the former remarks, is just one example of how the company is going from strength to strength together.

“I don’t think I had any idea when I started it about how long it would go on for,” explains Alston. “I didn’t have any long term plan; I think I would have been astonished (at where it is now). But it’s just gone on from year to year.

“Dancers come and dancers go, but this is a wonderful, wonderful group and some of them have been with me for five years now which makes for a very special relationship.

“I think the company is as strong as it’s ever been and it’s not time to put the horse out to pasture, not yet!”

For the full events programme, visit

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