Alston towers

Ellie Carr talks to Richard Alston and looks forward to the arrival of his high-cred dance troupe.

The new Richard Alston Dance Company has credentials tip to its armpits. Richard Alston: ex— artistic director of Rambeit Dance Company; VIP choreographer and a hard-core of nine dance-hungry young men and women. from the now disbanded London Contemporary Dance Theatre came together in November 199-1 to fill LCDT‘s old shoes at The Place. London. In doing so. they appear to have created a powerful new force in British dance.

At the new company's public debut in London only a few months later. the dance press were on the edge of their front row seats. In 1992 Alston had been privately ushered out of the back door of Rambcit while it publicly announced plans for a bright new future in which Alston's look-at-that-lovely-line choreography was out. and big flashy crowd pleasers were in. Everyone wanted to know what this highly respected British choreographer out on his car had been doing since then. and what they were to be served up with in place of the once world famous LCDT.

Much to everyone‘s delight. Alston pulled out all the stops with four pieces and nine dancers that had them crying out for more. He‘d been under no obligation to work with dancers from the old LCDT - he'd chosen them because they were hot. and to everyone‘s surprise. there was gemtincly something new in his choreography. If the work of this old purist had indeed been getting tired. it had suddenly woken up. Alston had had the carpet pulled from beneath his feet. but his work had gotten a new lease of life.

lt could have been very different. With Alston's

A hard-core of nine dance-hungry young men and women make up the Richard Alston Dance Company

reputation and the good name of the old LCDT to

uphold. the fledgeling company had a long way to fall. Alston insists. as every proper linglishman would. that he didn‘t think about it at the titnc. ‘I just got on with what I was doing.‘ he says with just a hint of stiff upper lip. lie does. however. acknowledge the changes in his work.

‘Being made to start all over again takes years off your Iite!’ ‘l’d say there is a difference in my choreography.' he agrees. "There‘s an element of responding to these particular dancers and their training. but I also think

what happened at Rambert was quite a big shock. and

it's changed me. .«\n experience like that makes you more uncertain about things, It makes you more doubting. But the good side is it makes you more

appreciative. When I‘m in the studio with the dancers i

now l don't take it for granted. The whole thing has tirade tuc aware that order is a great deal more flimsy than I thought. and now that I'm so much more involyed. the individual characters of the dancers

have become very important to me. Now. they‘re

very much people on stage. not just lovely legs and arms. and I think that‘s an enrichment of my work.‘

At a time in his life when many artists are becoming

. set in their ways. Richard Alston seems to be CXpCt'iCttClltg something of a renaissance and. ironically for Rambeit. which ditched him because he wasn't getting bums on seats. his new company has become a hot ticket with the public. When the company reaches Scotland next month with an impressive six-week touring schedule and education

programme it will be performing all the way front Edinburgh to lnverness the same four pieces that won hearts and minds down south. [Tnlike Rambert they won't be stopping off at the Festival Theatre. but as far as Alston’s‘ concerned. that's no longer the point. He is on a second honeymoon and he'll go. wherever it takes him. ‘Being made to start all over again takes years off your life!‘ he says. l Riv/turd :l/SIU/I Dance ('mII/nuty. on {our throng/mu! Scot/um]. l’ri -i’ Feb—Sal // .llm:

Gotonthe rocks

‘The audience will not be carried out on stretchers. This is not a depressing play, it is a very strong piece of theatre,’ laughs actress Moira Buffini. Yet, given the fact that infanticide is the subject matter of Buffini’s one- woman play Jordan, the audience could be forgiven for being a tad reticent in believing her.

Jordan is a Time Out award-winning play based on the true-life story of Shirley Jones whom Buttini’s co-writer

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52 The List 27 Jan-9 Feb 1995 F

Jordan: ‘a tough old play mentally’


Anna Reynolds met while in prison. It explores the complex psyche of Jones as she sits within the confines of her cell awaiting the outcome of her trial, on the charge of killing her thirteen- month-old son and love of her life Jordan as a cumulative act in a spiralling life of violence, poverty and

Though Butfini admits that, ‘lt’s a tough old play mentally’ she is equally keen to assert the wry humour and passion that instils Jones’ tragic life with an element of hope. lnevitably, the play also crosses into the grey area of crime and punishment and moral judgement. However, Buffini is adamant in her refusal to judge Shirley ‘Ultimately I feel compassion

for her, I do like her. . .She took a life but there was so much love for what

she killed. I no longer believe in the concept of evil.’

Buffini’s year spent teaching drama to prisoners in Holloway also confirmed both her and Reynolds commitment to ‘giving Shirley a voice of her own’ in the form of a one- woman play. As she says, ‘Too often with people like Shirley who are at the bottom of the heap their story is rarely told and if it is then it is through a nice middle-class person we can relate to like a social worker or the police or legal profession.’

As a final word of encouragement to those still wavering over the emotional work Buttini adds, ‘Ultimately Jordan is a good story I simply told.’ (Ann Donald)

3 Jordan is at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow,

Tue 31Jan-Sun 5 Feb.