Bringing a touch of fiery Latin passion to warm up Norwich in the chilly month of February is Richard Alston Dance Company with a programme of all new works to delight its many fans in the city.
On stage at Norwich Theatre Royal for just two nights on February 10 & 11, the company which has been coming to the city since 1999 will be dancing three new pieces: Richard Alston’s An Italian in Madrid received its premiere at Sadler’s Wells on March 19 earlier this year, while Martin Lawrance’s Tangent was first performed at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh on September 23 – both to critical acclaim.
And Chacony is Alston’s newest dance and the full 24-minute piece will have its UK premiere at Norwich Theatre Royal.
Chacony is inspired by the powerful Chaconne of Henry Purcell. A chaconne is a type of musical composition popular in the baroque period as a quick dance-song characterized by suggestive movements and mocking texts. It originally emerged from Spanish culture having reputedly been introduced from the New World.
Every bit as powerful as Purcell’s composition is the Chacony from Britten’s String Quartet No. 2, which was conceived as a tribute to Purcell. Richard Alston juxtaposes these two pieces to make a dance that gets under the skin of the richness and nobility of Purcell, reaching into darker places before reaffirming hope for humanity.
An Italian in Madrid received its premiere at Sadler’s Wells on March 19 earlier this year, and was described by The Observer as ‘one of the year’s finest works’. It is inspired by the sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti, which are played for the dancers live on stage by pianist Jason Ridgway. Scarlatti was a baroque composer hugely influenced by Spanish guitar music, and to explore this fusion of different cultures and styles, Richard Alston invited rising dance star Vidya Patel to join his company for this exciting piece.
Vidya, who comes from Birmingham, has participated in classical Indian dance styles from an early age and is training under the guidance of Sujata Banerjee, one of the most versatile South Asian artists working in the UK. In 2015, Vidya was a grand finalist in the BBC Young Dancer competition and that year also danced in a Sadler’s Wells showcase with other finalists at Suffolk’s Latitude Festival near Southwold and at Wembley stadium for the visit by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.
‘Forget Strictly – come see these wonderful dancers in exhilarating form’, The Herald advised on the premiere of Tangent which was first performed at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh on September 23 this year. Associate choreographer for Richard Alston Dance Company, Martin Lawrance, explores the vivid accents and attack of the Tango to music by Piazzolla, an Argentine Tango composer, played live in stage by Jason Ridgway on piano.
“I have always been fascinated by the closeness and passion of the Argentinian Tango language and wanted to explore this in my own vocabulary,” he said. “I have chosen what I think is a really wonderful piano arrangement by Marcello Nisinman of Piazzolla’s Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires). Each couple have their own story, taking different moods from the different seasons.”
Tickets to see Richard Alston Dance Company at Norwich Theatre Royal on February 10 & 11 are available now.