London Direct, Richard Alston Dance Company Returns to the Joyce Theater
Three New York Premieres, January 12-17
Richard Alston’s much-celebrated musical imagination will be front and center when the London-based Richard Alston Dance Company returns to The Joyce Theater for six performances, January 12-17. Three New York premieres–“Blow Over” set to Philip Glass, “Movements from Petrushka” set to Stravinsky and “Shuffle It Right” set to Hoagy Carmichael–are on the boards.
Alston’s “Movements from Petrushka,” a new and dramatically distilled interpretation of the 1911 classic ballet, uses Stravinsky’s piano arrangement of the original carnival-inflected orchestral score to create an emotional counterpoint to the pathos of the title character. Embodying the spirit of the complete ballet, in his version, primarily a solo for a male dancer, Alston suggests a parallel between the heartbreaking sadness suffered by the puppet, Petrushka, in the Fokine ballet and the tragic mental breakdown suffered by Vaslav Nijinsky, the great male dancer who originated the title role. The music will be played live at The Joyce.
Full of wit and infused with deft charm, “Shuffle It Right” celebrates the quirky, independent spirit of American composer Hoagy Carmichael. Ensembles, duets, solos that joyously spring from the music–nine Carmichael recordings from the 1940’s–create the sunny heart and soul of the work. The dance’s title, which comes from the “Riverboat Shuffle” lyrics (“She’ll teach you to shuffle it right”), reflects the enormous challenge that Alston faced in choosing among Carmichael’s huge oeuvre of work. The resulting choices include Hoagy singing, playing the piano and whistling.
For “Blow Over,” Alston turns to Philip Glass’s “Songs for Liquid Days,” which uses lyrics by art rockers such as Paul Simon, Suzanne Vega and David Byrne. Alston responds to the ritual theatrical power of the music, his first use of Glass, with fast-paced dancing that creates ever-changing patterns full of dramatic surprise.
The Richard Alston Dance Company’s Joyce Theater curtain on Tuesday (January 12) and Wednesday (January 13) is at 7:30pm. The Thursday (January 14), Friday (January 15) and Saturday (January 16) curtain is at 8pm. The closing performance is a 2pm matinee on Sunday, January 17.
Where To Go
Tickets are $49, $35, $19 and $10, and can be purchased by calling JoyceCharge at 212-242-0800, online at www.joyce.org or at The Joyce Theater box office. The Joyce Theater is located at 175 Eighth Avenue.
Richard Alston choreographed his first work as one of the original students at the London School of Contemporary Dance. He went on to choreograph for London Contemporary Dance Theatre before forming the UK’s first independent dance company, Strider in 1972. In 1975 he left for New York to study at the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio, and on his return two years later he worked throughout the UK and Europe as an independent choreographer and teacher.
In 1980 Alston was appointed Resident Choreographer for Ballet Rambert and became the company’s Artistic Director from 1986-1992. During his time there he created 25 works for Rambert while also being commissioned to create works for the Royal Danish Ballet (1982) and the Royal Ballet (1983).
In 1992 Alston was invited to create a full evening of his own work for the Ballet Atlantique based in La Rochelle, France. He made another full evening for London Contemporary Dance Theatre at the 1994 Aldeburgh Festival. He launched his own company, Richard Alston Dance Company, when he became Artistic Director of The Place in 1994. Over the past fifteen years Alston has made over 30 pieces for RADC.
He was made an honorary Doctor of Philosophy (in Dance) at Surrey University in 1992 and in 2003 he received an honorary MA from University College Chichester. In 1995 he was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in recognition of his work in France and in 2001 he received the CBE in the New Year Honours list.
Most recently, Alston was honored with the prestigious Ninette De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement. Also this year, he accepted the position of Chair of Youth Dance England.
Photo of "Blow Over" by Hugo Glendinning - Photo of “Movements from Petrushka” by Stuart Welburn - Photo of “Shuffle it Right” by Hugo Glendinning - Design by Michael Bonfiglio/EJA