Richard Alston choreographed his first work in 1968, as one of the twelve students of the newly formed London Contemporary Dance School. On leaving in 1972, he formed the UK’s first independent dance group Strider. In 1975 Alston went to New York to study at the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio. On his return two years later he worked throughout the UK and Europe as an independent choreographer and teacher.
In 1980 Alston became Resident Choreographer with Ballet Rambert and later was appointed Artistic Director, a position he held from 1986 to 1992. In his time there he created 25 pieces for that company, and also was commissioned to create work for the Royal Danish Ballet (Kingdom of Pagodas 1982) and the Royal Ballet (Midsummer 1983).
In 1992 Alston was invited to create a full evening of his own work, including Boulez’s Le Marteau Sans Maitre, for the Ballet Atlantique in France. He made another full evening for London Contemporary Dance Theatre at the 1994 Aldeburgh Festival, going on to form his own company when he became Artistic Director of The Place in 1994.
Richard Alston Dance Company started in the autumn of that year, and over the past 18 years Alston has created almost 40 pieces for this company. Commissions from other companies have included Sheer Bravado for Ballet Theatre Munich (2006), Walk Through a Storm for Ballet Black (2008), and a version of Carmen for Scottish Ballet (2009). In 2011, he made A Rugged Flourish for New York Theatre Ballet and in 2012, Even Song for the Holland Dance Festival.
Alston is an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy (in Dance) at Surrey University, and received an Honorary MA from University College Chichester. In 1995 he was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France and in 2001 he received the CBE in the New Year Honours list. In 2008 he received, from the Critics Circle National Dance Awards, the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement. In 2009, he was appointed Chair of Youth Dance England. This year Alston was presented with the Award for Excellence in International Dance by the International Theatre Institute. All Alight is Richard’s first work for Phoenix Dance Theatre.