RICHARD ALSTON DANCE COMPANY
Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 3 Dec
Dancers aren’t spies, but the denizens of both worlds do have something in common: defection. Some seek new challenges or greener pastures. Last season Richard Alston, a veritable British dance institution, lost some of his best and brightest movers to the more lucrative excesses of a Kylie Minogue tour. Scottish Dance Theatre’s Janet Smith was likewise bidden farewell by a few company members. But, in the circular fashion of dance, one choreographer’s loss became another’s gain as Alston hired two of Smith’s dancers - Edinburgh’s own Davina Givan and Hastings- born Jonathan Goddard.
Givan was a competitive Highland dancer in her childhood. ‘lt’s always been discipline that drives me,’ she says. As part of a repertory company that regularly commissions new choreography, she spent a varied and interesting five years at SDT. Still, as she puts it: ‘I got more hungry, rather than less. I wanted to spread my wings.’
At the tender age of three,
Alston back at the Festival Theatre
Goddard was dancing in playgroup, only later graduating to trampolining. ‘I still quite like the athletic side of dance,’ he says. He joined SDT fresh out of college. ‘I had to learn very fast. I didn’t develop one particular style, but like a blank canvas gave each choreographer what I could. It helped me loosen up as a dancer and taught me how to perform.’
Givan and Goddard weren’t recruited by Alston as a package deal. ‘We came to Richard separately,’ she says. ‘Socially it’s easier, because we joined together.’ But dance is not a milieu that adheres to the normal boundaries of human interaction. ‘Even if you’re new to a company, you get to know each other so quickly —- physically, anyway. You can’t be shy.’
Both dancers were attracted to Alston’s rightly vaunted musicality, and his surety. ‘He knows exactly
what qualities he wants,’ Givan says, ‘where the steps are and what shape a dance is going to take.’
Goddard chimes in: ‘His work can be very abstract, but he’s very clear about the reasons behind a dance.’ The pair perform in two of the three works Alston brings to Edinburgh: Stampede, an ensemble piece fuelled by medieval Italian dance music, and Rumours, Visions, a tastefully large-scale treatment of the tempestuous relationship between poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud.
They must be on the right track. The London Critics Circle recently nominated Givan for an award as Outstanding Young Female Artist (Contemporary), while one veteran scribe singled Goddard out for bringing ‘something eccentric and vivid to the stage.’ (Donald Hutera)
CHRISTMAS JEER THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS/P@CKERS
Various venues, see listings.
Elf and beauty secrets
Christmas is a time that you should spend occasionally sparing a thought for someone less fortunate than you. Me. for instance. Now spare me your Dickens — I like it. but not on a first date. and don't give me your Bob Cratchits cos it takes a helluva time to clear up. Let's face it. it's a consumer
orgy that brings Out the most appalling,
hypocritical side in all of us. I was prey. in my first years in Britain. to folk who simply w0uldn't believe me when I told them I really would rather spend the time alone. and thus was traipsed off. against my mild protest. to witness the dysfunctionalities of other peoples' families. putting my own into perspective. Here the women would lock themselves into bathrooms for a good cry. while men one didn't know w0uld make fragmented conversation through their dyspepsia about things they didn't care ab0ut. while Quietly brewing upon the imagined slights of the past year. Awful. These days I prepare a turkey for other folk fortunately spared a family Yuletide. Now. if you share my feelings of
Christmas jeer. you might want to take yourself off to one of two productions that agree with us. The Night Before Christmas. written. in truly sardonic style by Anthony Neilson. will be appearing in two separate productions this year. and can be found in Dundee. Edinburgh. Glasgow and several places in between. This antidote to humbug is the story of two ne'er-do-wells who. along with a prostitute friend. find an elf in a warehouse on Christmas Eve. Fraught with acid observations about the season to be stroppy. it will bring out the panto spirit in all who find the time of year insufferable.
So, too P@ckers. By Traverse young writer Joe Hancock, it locates itself in the impersonal space of another warehouse. this time one set aside for the packaging of various internet- ordered. useless goods of the kind we put ourselves into debt for six months for at this time of year. Examining the lives of three men employed as underlings at this grim workplace. more dark comedy is offered here.
Sta e Whis ers Re: Tragding the boargs
enters its 40th year in 2003. and celebrations will be kicking off in grand style on Monday 9 December with a swish and very posh sounding banquet. Among the guests will be such notables of the Scottish stage as Russell Hunter, Una MacLean and the cast of Taggan‘, most of whom have a good deal of experience at the Trav. There'll be dinner, drinks and dancing, as well as a potted history of the theatre from its early struggles to its current position as Scotland's leading new writing theatre. presented by Joyce Macmillan and Richard Wilson. You can also take part in auctions and raffles for such prizes as a reading presented by the Traverse at your own home. dinner for 20. or a trip to Vermont complete with a private tour of Ben and Jerry's ice- cream making facilities. You might finish up rubbing shoulders with such great past figures from the Trav as Jim Haynes. Ian Brown or John Byrne or one of the present creative dynamos. All this comes at the price of £75 per ticket. Hefty, I know. but w0rth the fun from the looks of the guest list.
Glasgow Repetory Company’s King Lear
THE EXISTENTIAL crisis at the centre of King Lear and its presentation of issues of age, ﬁlial obligation and the misuse of power have made many a critic hail it as the great tragedy of our language. No production of the play should be ignored, and its presentation by the Glasgow Repertory Company at the Ramshorn might create particular interest, since this young company created some pretty respectable classics in its summer open air programme this year. This production sounds well worth a watch, and will be running until Saturday 30 November. See if you can get along to it.
28 Nov—12 Dec 2002 THE LIST 55