Dance review: Richard Alston Dance Company

Richard Alston Dance CompanyEdinburgh Festival Theatre ****

Despite being one of the biggest names in British contemporary dance, Richard Alston isn't afraid to inject a little balletic grace into his movement. In fact, there are times during his latest work, Out of the Strong, when the use of bare feet rather than pointe shoes is the only thing marking Alston out as a contemporary choreographer.

Inspired by the turbulent life of Russian composer, Sergei Prokofiev – and set to his diverse Piano Sonata No 6 – the piece runs the gamut of emotions. Dancer Pierre Tappon takes on the central role, storming across the stage during the first anger-filled movement, then mellowing as love enters the frame. The overall narrative is hinted at, rather than fully drawn, but still marks an interesting departure for such an abstract dance-maker.

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Created in 1997, Light Flooding into Darkened Rooms is only resurrected by Alston when he has company members who are up to the challenge of performing it. Tappon and Charlotte Eatock are two such dancers. Drenched in atmosphere, this intensely intimate piece makes voyeurs of us all. To the sound of 17th century classical guitar, the pair stay within the realms of social decency, then lose themselves in moments of touching tenderness.

One of Alston's sure-fire hits closed the night – the upbeat Shuffle It Right. Four couples, dressed in khakis and floral print dresses, bring Hoagy Carmichael's witty jazz tunes to life, and leave us feeling all is right with the world.