Richard Alston Dance Company

Richard Alston Dance Company

It’s not often that Richard Alston embraces a narrative, but when he does, you know you’re in for something special – as witnessed by his excellent Carmen with Scottish Ballet earlier this year. Now, to celebrate the centenary of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Alston has taken on Petrushka.

‘From time to time I’ve taken images very clearly from music,’ says Alston. ‘And that’s what I’ve done with Petrushka. I would call it semi-narrative – there’s certainly something going on.’ Rather than stage the whole tragic tale, Alston has taken piano pieces from Stravinsky’s original score and created a poignant three-part mini drama. He’s also fused the character of Petrushka with the dancer who created the role, the equally tragic Vaslav Nijinsky.

‘The central piece has Petrushka alone in his cell, as a contemporary figure, not a puppet,’ explains Alston. ‘He’s Nijinsky using the movement he remembers from Petrushka and fraught with anguish. And the outer movements are very joyful and positive, with carnival people in Russian tunics – but Petrushka can’t relate to them and in the end he pushes him away.’

Joining Movements From Petrushka on this crowd-pleasing bill are Martin Lawrance’s fast-paced To Dance and Skylark, and a revival of Alston’s exhilarating Overdrive. What does Alston hope to give people when he programmes an evening of dance? ‘The simple answer would be pleasure,’ he says. ‘Dance gives me pleasure, I find it very uplifting. And that’s a very important and basic thing for me to share with an audience.’

Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 10 Nov

Richard Alston Dance Company

The acclaimed dance company embarks on its last tour, before the company shuts its doors in 2020.

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