Richard Alston Dance Company — Tangent / Chacony / Gypsy Mixture: “irresistible and captivating”

Nancy Nerantzi, Elly Braund, Nicholas Shikkis, Jennifer Hayes, Nicholas Bodych. Photo by Chris Nash

Richard Alston Dance Company’s triple bill presents a hard-hitting program of irresistible and captivating dance pieces.

New productions Tangent and Chacony perfectly combine with hugely popular Gypsy Mixture to offer an evening of extraordinary and highly skilled performance.

Artistic Director of The Place and world acclaimed choreographer, Richard Alston is known for his special relationship with music from which he draws most of his inspiration, using the music as a starting point for his choreographies. A peculiar trademark that, linked with his signature movement style, is constantly present in all the evening’s pieces.


The program hosts a very special opening performance by twelve students of the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. Choreographed by Richard Alston, Glint is an exquisite and successful showcase of the energy and talent of these young dancers.

Starting slowly, guided only by a sound of bells, the piece converts into a very energetic and intense sequence of phrases, set on a sort of tribal rhythm, performed expertly in elegant unison.


Choreographed by Martin Lawrance, Tangent is set on Piazzolla’s Las Cuatro Estaciónes Porteñas (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires), played live by pianist Jason Ridgway.

Four couples establish their own story inspired by each season, through a language that draws from tango tradition, infused with contemporary, jazz and ballet vocabulary.

The female dancers, in their romantic coloured costumes, coordinate perfectly with their partners in passionate duets, moving with impeccable grace and control.

Pulling, turning, wrapping and unwrapping, the sequence is tight and explosive. The faster the music, the quicker the moves, perfectly tuned with the score and with each piano note. You kind of get lost seeing how quickly and precisely the dance is executed. I expected a tango performance, but what I see is a richness of different dance stiles bonded together in perfect harmony.


Chacony is inspired by Henry Purcell’s Chacony, and Britten’s arrangement of it. The two variations are combined to accompany dancers with a rich rhythm, exploring the formal order of the original Chacony in the first part and then subverting that order in the second part.

Ten dancers with long burgundy tunics execute a very clear choreography, dancing in solo and duets, pulling, leaning, and pushing away, in an overwhelming precise synchronicity, very close to the classical technique.

As Brittany’s Chacony takes over, the dance style changes, reflecting the composer’s arrangement of the score. In pastel coloured costumes, the dancers move freely on the stage, the previous order has been replaced by modern jumps, twists, and lifts, showing all their fabulous prowess. It is fascinating to see how Alston managed to convey this sense of change between the two pieces, only to re-establish the original order at the end, as to express hope for the future.

Gypsy Mixture

The evening ends with a grand finale. Widely acclaimed Gypsy Mixture brings a colourful party to the stage. Ten dancers unleash their bursting energy in sassy, fast paced sequences tuned with traditional Balkan folk music re-arranged in different styles and rhythms. Shimmies, shakes, curves and jumps – every movement reflects the dynamic music style. Captivating solos, duets and group phrases highlight the exceptional and superb skills of all dancers. The audience is transported and lifted by their cheerful performance, it’s hard to resist that festive mood.

Reviewed at Sadler’s Wells on 16 June.