Halfway through the last piece, it started to sink in – this was the last time I would ever see Richard Alston Dance Company perform. This was not news – Alston announced his decision to close months ago, as funding is redistributed to younger artists.
Richard Alston Dance Company: Final Edition, Edinburgh Festival Theatre ****
Yet there was something so utterly beautiful and haunting about Voices and Light Footsteps – Alston’s final piece for the company, receiving its world premiere in Edinburgh – that made the inevitable ending feel all the more poignant.
For 19 years, Alston has brought mixed-bills to Scotland, playing to a loyal and supportive audience. His love of music, and ability to weave choreography and composition together like threads through a loom, always came with a guarantee of beauty.
Brahms Hungarian, which premiered in Edinburgh this time last year and returned for another outing, is perhaps the purest case in point. Gorgeous costumes, delicate pairings and clever balletic movement, accompanied by the company’s talented long-time pianist Jason Ridgway.
Over the years, Alston has also gifted us the choreographic treasure that is Martin Lawrance. A former company dancer turned dance-maker, his new work A Far Cry spoke to us with Lawrance’s usual speed, spirit and verve.
But back to Voices and Light Footsteps, a Monteverdi-set work of ten short, absorbing vignettes that close the show, and our time with this company. Arguably it’s one of the finest works 70-year-old Alston has created.
“One way or another, I’ll be back,” he said to the crowd after taking his bow. I sincerely hope so. Kelly Apter