Richard Alston Dance Company (4 stars)

Richard Alston Dance Company

credit: Chris Nash

World premiere of Martin Lawrence's Tangent heads up an evening that plays with formality and form

Richard Alston brought four substantial pieces of dance for his latest evening at the Festival Theatre. Most artistic directors when staging a world premiere performance, as Alston did with Martin Lawrance's brilliant new Tangent (pictured), would couch it with works that would not overshadow it. He, however, has the audacity and wit to stage it with some of the company's strongest pieces.

Alston's own An Italian in Madrid tells the story of Italian composer Scarlatti (danced by Ishaan De Banya), Master of Music to Portuguese Princess Barbara (the impeccable Vidya Patel), who accompanied her to Madrid. Alston plays with the Spanish influence on Scarlatti's music in a piece which carries a story but most of all allows the strict formality of court to peek through the casual fluidity of the keyboard sonatas – performed live by Jason Ridgeway.

Composers return in Alston's Mazur, danced to Chopin's mazurkas. Liam Riddick and Nicholas Bodych create a series of duets that speak of friendship and regret during Chopin's time in Paris. But it is their solos that are most effective – the music becomes so entwined in the choreography that the dancers seem to be duetting with the notes themselves.

Lawrance demonstrates his credentials in Stronghold, with its Brechtian staging and throbbing, dynamic choreography, quite appropriate for its soundtrack of Julia Wolfe's piece for eight double basses. So the power of his Tangent which finishes off the evening is not actually surprising.

Taking the Tango as his starting point, and using a piano arrangement of Piazzola's Four Seasons in Buenos Aires (played by Ridgeway again), he has four couples take on his transformation of this most erotic and manipulative of dance forms. The flicks and kicks are there, but it is a somehow softened tango, clothing the stiff aggression of the form in something more fluid. There is still danger in these season-tinged relationships, but it is sensual rather than full-bloodedly erotic, and no less downright sexy for it.

Festival Theatre Edinburgh. Run ended. On tour to Weds 23 November.

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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