Richard Alston Dance Company/Malvern Theatres


BETTER late than never. This outstanding company was making its 22nd – and tragically, its last visit to Malvern – when it finally danced to the music of Elgar.

The last performance of the night, this piece understandably brought the house down, the audience in turn rewarding the dancers with encore after encore.

Without doubt, they most surely deserved the accolades, for this fantastically talented company is the very personification of excellence.

And that’s why after all these years of triumph its swansong is all the more galling.

But while Martin Lawrance’s A Far Cry, inspired by Elgar’s impassioned masterpiece Introduction and Allegro formed a fitting finale, this nevertheless did not overshadow what had gone before.

For example, Richard Alston’s new work Voices and Light Footsteps, set to the madrigals of Monteverdi, was permeated throughout by a courtly grandeur, the dancers moving with a will ‘o’ wisp gracefulness that was intensely moving.

Meanwhile, the Chopin interlude was utterly delightful and most certainly one of the high spots of the evening. The piece titled Mazur was set to the composer’s music and was endowed with renewed life by Jason Ridgway’s sensitive piano work.

Completing this varied programme was Red Run and the intricate Isthmus, both of which made great demands on dancers whose steps never once faltered.

This was indeed a night to remember, and thankfully, one witnessed by a packed Forum Theatre that greeted the Richard Alston Dance Company as if it was a meeting old friends.

However, this time it was a case of a sad farewell rather than the decidedly happier au revoir.

John Phillpott