Richard Alston’s Autumn season At Home was greeted with a full house. Dance celebrities and non-celebrities, the older generation from his experimental years, and eager younger choreographers with notebooks all gathered in celebration at The Place. The evening, made up of four pieces, three by Alston and one by the choreographer Martin Lawrance, confirmed (as if it were necessary) that the master is still roaring.

A man, a woman, and a grand piano in the background playing Ravel: this was the evening’s opener, Shimmer, a “glittery” piece from 2004. Composed of six tableaux on music by Maurice Ravel performed live on stage, the choreography presents all typical elements of Alston’s style: the long and balletic lines, broken by more fluid, turning movements and jumps, alternating with pauses. The duets change to trios in a fluidity of images that washes away what was just seen. Moments of suspension are balanced by intricate compositions in limbs and steps, reminiscent of the British balletic tradition and in particular Frederick Ashton. Alston’s musicality complements the formality of his smooth and beautiful movement. All this is framed by the costumes – spider web-like crochet tunics encrusted with Swarovski and loosely reminiscent of ice-skating costumes – that gained an Olivier Award nomination in 2005 for designer Julien Macdonald. Alston’s talent in using the music and the glitter of the costumes call for a comparison to Balanchine’s masterpiece Jewel. The piece ended with a splendid interpretation from dancer Nathan Goodman, where form transcended into emotion.

The second part of the programme started with Isthmus (2012), to music by Jo Kondo. Commissioned by Bob Lockyer and presented at The Place this April, this extremely short and fast-paced piece is over before it’s possible to fully appreciate its intricacy. The steps, more angular and abrupt than in the previous piece, allow Alston’s dancers to show off more of their skills. The theme is loose – the group and the lonely outsider – and with no clear outcome: did she integrate, did she not? The music is again the main motor of inspiration for the movement material. And the dancers again embody the visual images evoked by the (this time) cacophonous score. Turns, jumps, swirls of legs and fearless diving into their partners’ arms build the core of this extremely short and sharp visual haiku.

Third piece and world première Darknesse Visible was an exquisite surprise. Alston has worked with references taken from the 17th-century lute song “In Darkness Let Me Dwell” by John Dowland and Milton’s Paradise Lost. As the title gives away, the dance starts in complete darkness, apart from the dim light coming from the piano. This set the atmosphere for an intimate duet between the pianist Jason Ridgway playing music by Thomas Adès and the delicate dance interpretation of Pierre Tappon. Floor-height sidelights open gradually to reveal a lonely man. At times as if in front of a virtual mirror, at times struggling with his loneliness, this figure slowly gains confidence and his movements go from sliding on the floor, to standing sideways à la Nijinsky, to finally ending by showing himself frontally. Brilliant is the game between the tiny dancer and his enormous shadow at the end of the piece. Worthy of special mention is Tappon, his great execution alternating between moments of pure stillness and of reptilian slithering, in what is almost a male version of Balanchine’s La Somnambule.

Martin Lawrance’s Madcap (also a world première) crowned the evening. A rising choreographer, Lawrance choreographed Run For It, performed by the Scottish Ballet, for Dance GB earlier this year. On music by Julia Wolfe, he created what looks like a West Side Story piece for his previous dance colleagues (he worked for Alston’s company until 2007). The piece, at an extremely fast tempo, overexcites all the senses. It opens with a man in black (Nathan Goodman) crawling and flouncing animal-like, in a circle of light in the middle of the stage. Alternating between predator and prey, he is soon replaced by a couple swirling, as if one body, in an exceptionally close duet. And the music in the meantime is exploding. The scenes rapidly change from duet, to group, to male solo, with a constant ambiguity between attacking and being attacked, between group (gang?) and the outsider trying to get in. The back-lighting brings the brick wall to the foreground and together with the rock-and-roll touch in the music makes for a connection to Bernstein’s musical. Quoting the programme: a “high energy edgy style” (Alston), “frantic”, “fast” and “impulsive” (Lawrance), “over the top” (Wolfe), this dance exceeds its framework.

After appreciating Richard Alston’s great dancers and his classic style we are left with a question: is Alston designating Lawrance as his successor? Is the lion offering the sceptre to his cub?