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BRITAIN'S RICHARD ALSTON DANCE COMPANY MAKES ITS D.C. AREA DEBUT AT GMU'S CENTER FOR THE ARTS

August 25, 2009
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GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY’S CENTER FOR THE ARTS

WELCOMES

RICHARD ALSTON DANCE COMPANY

Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009 at 8 p.m. 

FAIRFAX, Va., Aug. 25, 2009“An exquisite balm for tired eyes and souls,” says The New York Times about this innovative and entertaining company founded by one of Britain’s foremost choreographers. The Richard Alston Dance Company makes its Washington, D.C. area debut at George Mason University’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. Newsday described Alston’s work as “a rewarding, refreshing, uplifting ride.” A pre-performance discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to the performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III.

Described by The New York Times as “the finest choreographer the British modern-dance scene has ever known,” Richard 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, who introduced release technique and contact improvisation to Alston. Cunningham first performed in London in 1964, and Alston later had the opportunity to study with him in New York in 1975. 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 1986-92.  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. Described by The Times of London as “a choreographer for whom every dance is a love affair for his chosen music,” Alston has ensured that music play a vital part in the company’s identity. 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, Cyrpus, Greece, Turkey, Germany, China and Southeast Asia.

Tickets for the RICHARD ALSTON DANCE COMPANY are $42, $34, $21 . Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit www.tickets.com. The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K.  Visit www.gmu.edu/cfa

About Great Performances at Mason

Great Performances at Mason is a program of George Mason University's Center for the Arts, the professional presentation and production arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). CVPA provides an academic environment in which the arts are explored as individual disciplines and interdisciplinary forms that strengthen one another. The college prepares students for careers as creators, performers, teachers, scholars, arts leaders and arts entrepreneurs. Understanding that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the Center for the Arts, the professional presentation and production arm of the college, welcomes a variety of professional and world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Students have the opportunity to perform, create and exhibit their work in a wide variety of public venues including a 2,000-seat Concert Hall. CVPA is home to the Schools of Music, Dance and Art, the Department of Theater, as well as the Computer Game Design, Arts Management and Film and Video Studies programs.

About George Mason University

Named the #1 national university to watch in the 2009 rankings of U.S. News & World Report, George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country.  Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university.