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Richard Alston Dance Company & SPNM

Choreography: Richard Alston/Martin Lawrence/Darren Ellis
Musicians: Rolf Hind, David Alberman & Stuart King
The Place, London 6 June 2007

Brief Candles was a joint presentation by the Richard Alston Dance Company and the Society for the Promotion of New Music, featuring music by Simon Holt and two short-listed SPNM young composers. For readers of Musical Pointers I have to say that it was a confusing and mostly unsatisfactory entertainment which did not justify our hard-reached decision to forego Sokolov's annual appearance in London, but it was finally redeemed by the only dance item which was not quickly forgettable.

The Brief Candles themselves were some sixteen little solos for unaccompanied clarinet (Stuart King) in two groups, and they were not given to dance. They ranged from high pitched shrieks which had us covering our ears (a health hazard notice would have been not inappropriate) to pianissimo passages which were swallowed by The Place's air conditioning/sound equipment background. Nor did Holts Negredo for piano (Rolf Hind) interpreted by two pairs of dancers leave any lasting impression, except for one of athleticism and stamina throughout the evening.

The SPNM composers did us better after the interval, with Stealing Poison influenced by Shakespeare and numerology and, best of all the last Tempt My Better Angel (listed first in the misleading programme - only during the interval did we extract the insert slip with running order from all the advertising bumpf enclosed).

Here, and here alone, the collaborative exercise became meaningful for those of us who came in response to advertising by SPNM. With lines from Othello as a creative spur, "lyricism and danger were the two poles" between which Evangelia Rigaki (composer) and Darren Ellis (choreographer) decided to move musically and visually. The three musicians gestured and moved into the dance space, providing a memorable "visual sub-plot" and the music was characterful; with an interest in versatile music theatre, "working in close collaboration in defined spaces, with music, words and lights intertwining in dynamic ways", hers is a name to look out for again.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Illustration: Evangelia Rigaki with David Alberman