Music

Starting with music

When discussing his work generally, writing the programme notes for his pieces and during interviews, Alston focuses on the music he has chosen. Below are some choice quotes from past interviews that help to give some insight into his relationship with music and the choices he has made over the years.

"I like to work with a range of music and whilst I enjoy 17th and 18th century music I am also keen to keep in touch with 20th century music and living composers." From Light Flooding Into Darkened Rooms Interview
 
"Doublework I see personally at the end of a whole block of work -- the end of a decade of work, '68-'78, because in fact at the exact same time when I was making Doublework I was also making a piece called Home Ground for Maedee, a solo which was the first time I started to work from a score of a piece of music. And this became what I wanted to continue doing.  Before that I had worked with a curious range of things, sometimes sound, sometimes silence, sometimes new music which didn't necessarily have an effect on the dance content. I wanted to work with music once I felt I had enough vocabulary and knowledge to at least attempt something of what I wanted to do with it. I didn't want to just use music because it was there...If they [music and dance] are going to be together then I feel strongly they need to work in some equal way"...From Doublework Interview
 
"The challenge that I have is to not be a slave to the music, because it would become number crazy and intellectual and not very exciting. So I’m trying to let the dancers move in a way which feels like the buzz you get out of the texture of the music." From Overdrive Interview
 
"The thing that I love about Monteverdi is that his music is intensely expressive, but also he has the most wonderful, sprightly, energetic rhythm; and these two things are marvellous contrasts."  From Fever Discussion
 
"I guess what is really interesting to me about [the music from Gypsy Mixture] is that it is about how the world is now. It’s the fact that this music travelled, it was taken from one culture to another through people travelling. Now, however, we have iPods, laptops, remixing, whatever – music is everywhere instantly. So I think it’s just an example how 21st century life can actually instantly create hybrids." From Gypsy Mixture Interview
 
"My work now is primarily about the relationship between movement and music and the relationship of the phrasing is very, very exact and so for that I need a very exact language." From 2000 Interview
 
For the V&A's exhibition on Diaghilev and The Ballet Russe, Alston choreographed a short phrase of movement and discussed his choices in relation to the music.

For an essay by Stephanie Jordan exploring the use of music in Shimmer, visit the repertoire page.