Richard Alston choreographed his first work in 1968 as one of the original students at the London Contemporary Dance School. He went on to choreograph for London Contemporary Dance Theatre before forming this country’s first independent dance company, Strider, in 1972. In 1975 he left fro New York to study at the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio and on his return two years later worked throughout the UK and Europe as an independent choreographer and teacher. In 1980 Alston was appointed Resident Choreographer with Ballet Rambert and became the company’s Artistic Director from 1986-1992. During his time there he created 25 works for Rambert besides being commissioned to create works for the Royal Danish Ballet and Royal Ballet.
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 and it was therefore a logical step to go on to form his own company, which he did when he took up the post of Artistic Director of The Place in 1994. The Richard Alston Dance Company was launched at The Place in November of that year.
Over the past 17 years Alston has made 37 pieces for his own company. Recent commissions for other companies include Sheer Bravado for Ballet Theatre Muinch and Walk Through A Storm for Ballet Black, and, in 2009, Carmen for Scottish Ballet. In 2011, he made A Rugged Flourish for New York Theatre Ballet’s season Signatures 11: A Celebration of Legends & Visionaries.
Richard Alston Dance Company
Richard Alston Dance Company’s high reputation on the British dance scene is now increasingly being matched overseas. In May 2004 the company made its US debut with a week-long season at New York’s leading theatre for dance, the Joyce Theater. The company returned to the US in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, giving its third, critically acclaimed and sold-out New York season in January 2010.
In 2006 the company performed the closing piece of Sadler’s Wells gala marking the retirement of Dance Umbrella’s founding director Artistic Director, Val Bourne. In January 2007, the Company was nominated for two South Bank Show awards. In October 2008, at Sadler’s wells, the company’s 60/40 season celebrated Alston’s 60th birthday and the 40th anniversary of his first piece of choregraphy. In building its repertoire, Richard Alston Dance Company focuses on Alston’s new choreography but combines this with the re-creation of seminal past works from Alston’s career.
Music plays a vital part in the Company’s identity and since its inception Alston has used the work of a diverse range of composers including Brahms, Britten, Hoagy Carmichael, Heiner Goebbels, Astor Piazzolla, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Schumann, Shostakovich and Stravinsky. Recently, the company’s annual At Home seasons at The Place’s Robin Howard Dance Theatre have included new and newly commissioned work by young British composers.