Center for the Arts Welcomes Richard Alston Dance Company

Posted: September 30, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: September 29, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Shuffle_It_Right_HFG_8738HGThe Richard Alston Dance Company makes its Washington, D.C., area debut at Mason’s Center for the Arts on Saturday, Oct. 10, at 8 p.m., performing several of Richard Alston’s latest pieces, as well as some of his most seminal works.

Known for having a close relationship with music, Richard Alston combines masterful movement with beautiful melodies to create dance that is simply breathtaking. The company will be performing two pieces choreographed by Alston: “Blow Over,” set to Philip Glass’ “Songs from Liquid Days,” and “Movements From Petrushka,” set to Igor Stravinsky’s work by the same name. This piece is inspired by the role created by Nijinksy in the original ballet.

The performance concludes with “To Dance and Skylark,” created by Rehearsal Director and Choreographer Martin Lawrance, set to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos No. 2 and 3.

A discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to the performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III.

Alston is known for being one of the leading innovators in the second wave of British modern dance. One of the first full-time students at the London School of Contemporary Dance, which opened in 1966, Alston choreographed his first work in 1968, at a time when the British contemporary dance tradition was just beginning to develop.

Alston’s primary influences were Merce Cunningham, and Mary Fulkerson, an American dancer. Alston was inspired by Cunningham’s philosophy of celebrating dance for dance’s sake, challenging the idea that dance must be a means of telling a story or expressing extreme emotions. He was also inspired by Cunningham’s collaborations with modern-era musicians and visual artists, and formed working relationships with many of his contemporaries.

Alston choreographed for the London Contemporary Dance Theatre for several years and also formed Britain’s first independent dance company, Strider, in 1972. After studying with Cunningham and working as an independent choreographer and teacher for several years in London, Alston was appointed resident choreographer with Britain’s Ballet Rambert in 1980 and later served as the artistic director from 1986 to 1992.  In 1992, Alston became the artistic director of The Place, London’s biggest dance agency. Alston was made an honorary Doctor of Philosophy in dance at Surrey University in 1992 and has since received numerous awards from institutions in Britain and France.

Launched in 1994 to critical acclaim, the Richard Alston Dance Company is Britain’s largest independent company. Over the past decade, Alston has created more than 20 pieces for his company. Since the company’s inception, Alston has used the work of a diverse range of composers, including Brahms, Hoagy Carmichael, Monteverdi, Shostakovich and Stravinsky, as well as the work of contemporary British composers. In addition to touring extensively across Britain, the company has recently performed in Russia, Holland, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Germany, China and Southeast Asia.

Tickets are $42, $34 and $21. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit

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