Magazine article The Spectator

Unexpected Delights

Magazine article The Spectator

Unexpected Delights

Article excerpt

I have never been that keen on anniversary performances. For me, the celebrations impinge on the audience's critical evaluation by creating that uncomfortable please-do-not-spoil-the-party feeling. But this was not the case with Richard Alston's 50th Birthday Celebration. The clever structure of the programme, where extracts from past creations mingled with two world premieres, dispelled the risk of turning the evening into a nostalgic retrospective of the choreographer's achievements.

I particularly enjoyed the way some of the excerpts were woven together, creating a new piece of sorts that allowed an at-aglance understanding of Alston's creativity. Apart from the uniqueness of the technical features that characterise his productions, a striking constant emphasised by this particular programme is the poetic quality of the choreographic imagery. Despite their incisiveness, Alston's solutions are never too crude or too explicit, thus enticing the viewer into a game of subjective reactions and interpretations. Even when the boundaries of superficial lyricism and predictability are dangerously neared, there is always an unexpected element that rescues and lifts up the entire situation. This is, for instance, what happened in the new Dance of the Wayward Ancients, performed by Siobhan Davies, Darshan Singh Bhuller and Alston himself, where the breathtaking purity of the movement and subtle humorous touches prevented self-glorification of the three pioneers of British contemporary dance.

Incisive lyricism was also Mark Baldwin's forte. Yet, his new creations for Dance Umbrella seem to indicate that the choreographer is now heading towards new formulae. Indeed, the presence in the company of Bart De Block is a determining factor in Baldwin's change of stylistic direction. A fine ballet dancer, De Block is also one of the few men to have mastered beautifully the use and technique of pointe shoes without looking effeminate or parodic. The ballet idiom, epitomised by pointe shoes, is not unknown to Baldwin who has used it beautifully in the past. The two pieces that revolve around De Bloch's skills, M-Piece and Song of the Nightingale, focus too much on the technical bravura of the dancer, however. And the display of virtuoso feats overshadows both the dramatic and the choreographic flow, particularly in Song of the Nightingale, thus constraining the powerful drive normally found in Baldwin's work. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.