Richard Alston is a true Contemporary Dance artist and choreographer. His understanding of space and his playful treatment of time and energy should be studied by any young dancer. He is a staple figure in the British Contemporary Dance scene and the international community as well. His ability to design and create work that can fit both large and small theatres is a unique craft. Normally, when I go to a show of a top-notch company, I expect a five star show. However, this Richard Alston Dance Company's performance fell short of such. The evening was lacking something. The cast is not to blame per se, because they are all skillful and brilliant dancers, but they here couldn't bring personality and conviction to Alston's repertoire. The dancers mastered the movements and were very present in their dancing but lacked charisma and weight to make the movement sing.

Richard Alston Dance Company in <i>Rejoice in the Lamb</i> © Chris Nash
Richard Alston Dance Company in Rejoice in the Lamb
© Chris Nash
There was a certain politeness to the piece which made it both comfortable to watch and a great opening to a show, but it was just that... pleasant and pretty. Rejoice in the Lamb is a slow deeply poetic piece that references religious gestures and included Church themes. A live 50 singers- strong choir and an organist accompanied the cast of 11. Perhaps for some, this piece might feel like a 'going home' of sorts, for others it might be just cordial, holy, or graceful. With praying hand gestures and kneels that transitioned into explosive jumps, Rejoice in the Lamb is a wholesome lovely piece.

The second piece, Burning, choreographed by Martin Lawrancewas dynamically in unison with curtsies of temptation and expressions of lust. The combination of the costuming and the duet sections, which included a series of slithering hips, were reminiscent of an Olympic pairs figure skating routine. Nancy Nerantzi was incredibly powerful in her red and black dress and shined throughout the piece. Her duets with Liam Riddick were alluring. Burning was a red blooded piece in which the cast beautifully soared through the space, however, still lacked a certain hutzpa.

Nomadic, jointly choreographed by Richard Alston and Ajani Johnson-Goffe, was odd. The piece includes music from The Shukar Collective, which felt artificial and unfortunately transplanted me to a French lounge. The piece offers a romantic view of the nomadic spirit with a cast of really technical dancers, combining modern dance and hip-hop moves to an avant-garde, alienating score. The dancers were messy and under-rehearsed and the design of the piece had various climaxes which created a bit of a roller-coaster journey that did not work. Nomadic was also a bit too long and an editing eye would have greatly benefited the work. The costume choices too were underwhelming; shirts and bottoms that looked like they were straight out of a GAP catalogue. Rethinking various elements of Nomadic might have made it more successful.

M Krempeniou, N Nerantzi and E Braund in <i>Rejoice in the Lamb</i> © Pari Naderi
M Krempeniou, N Nerantzi and E Braund in Rejoice in the Lamb
© Pari Naderi
The final piece Madcap, (also by Martin Lawrence) was the most rewarding of the show. It was fast-paced, dark, and grungy. The piece was incredibly athletic and the dancers superb in their execution. Madcap had a lofty feel to it which stripped away the stage curtains and allowed the bricks and side railings to add to the greased-limbed robotic dancing. There were moments when the electric dance phrases even sent shock waves to the audience

The Richard Alston Dance Company is and will continue to be a leading Contemporary Dance company in the UK, but this week's performance was an off night.