Salford has a world-class venue for touring shows. The Lowry has seen some of the most spectacular performances – sometimes on the same evening – from across the globe due to its capacity to house three touring productions in three separate spaces on any one night.

Among the big-named musical acts and theatre productions there is an impressive dance programme which older venues in Manchester perhaps cannot accommodate due to their continuous West End transfers.

Veteran choreographer Richard Alston comes to The Lowry with a retrospective of some of his finest work to date. On tour until the end of May, the programme offers a lucky dip of eight pieces dependent on venue.

In 1968, Alston exploded on to the dance scene as a bright new choreographer from the newly formed London School of Contemporary Dance, went on to study at the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio in New York and returned to take up primary position as Artistic Director with Ballet Rambert. At this point, he’s not got past 1992, an incredibly impressive CV which trots, or “avants”, if you will, from Europe to America and back to Europe.

So, The Devil in Detail opens the evening with the music of Scott Joplin, accompaniment by award-winning pianist, Jason Ridgeway, who has been playing with the company for over ten years.

The company are a pleasure in pastel, with finesse and elegance to match the finest of Joplin’s tunes including The Entertainer. The ten dancers are eloquent in their understanding of Alston’s highly-original, loveable and delicate steps. Richard Alston - dancers

After the first interval, the evening changes course with a look back to a piece Alston choreographed almost a decade ago. Shimmer is underscored by the music of Ravel and was made, Alston says, in memory of the art critic Bryan Robertson who was an inspiration to the choreographer. Nathan Goodman’s solo is a beautiful dénouement to what is, at times, a challenging piece and its end is satisfying and moving.

Finally, the third act and the pace changes even further. Not only because it’s the finale, but also because it’s a different choreographer. Martin Lawrance (who is also, incidentally, rehearsal director) is showcased in Madcap. Having worked as a dancer with Alston and having re-staged many of his mentor’s works, this piece is a shiny cherry on a lovely cake. Highly charged, with music performed by Bang on a Can, the fast, furious and frenzied ballet is truly a wonderful thing.

Alston has seen himself in Lawrance’s work and it resonates and compliments his own back catalogue. It’s entirely our treat as the audience that we share in the vision. The dancing is strong and camaraderie is apparent. A company in its truest sense; the trust the dancers have in the pieces, their auteur and in each other is something only a master can piece together.

If you missed the Richard Alston Dance Company this time, make sure you see them on further jaunts, or, better still, catch them on tour. It’s worth it.

Review by Lucia Cox

Photos: Shimmer dancers Jonathan Goddard & Ino Riga; Richard Alston Dance Company perform Devil in the Detail. Photos Chris Nash.


What: Richard Alston Dance Company in collaboration with The Place

Where: The Lowry, Salford Quays, Salford

When: March 19, 2013. Check website for details of touring dates and venues

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