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‘Alston’s dance has both uplift and heartbreak written into its potent phrases’ Debra Craine, The Times

Created for

London Contemporary Dance Theatre


Benjamin Britten Les Illuminations

Original Lighting

Peter Mumford

Relit: Charles Balfour


Fotini Dimou


22 minutes

Originally danced by a cast of

5 women 3 men 

Video Excerpt

Filmed by Marco Benozzi, Valentina Formenti and Steve Jackman at The Place. Edited by Steve Jackman. Produced by The Place.

‘I have stretched ropes from bell tower to bell tower; garlands from window to window; gold chains from star to star and I dance’ - Arthur Rimbaud.

The fantastic imagery of Rimbaud’s poetry is a reflection of his short but turbulent creative life. he saw himself as a visionary, beyond the logic and conventions of society. ‘I alone’ he cried, ‘hold the key to this barbarous parade'. Meeting the older writer Verlaine, the intensity of their drug addicted love affair fuelled the wild visions and strange dreams of Rimbaud’s writing in which he purposely attempted to ‘disorder the senses’. Eventually he violently rejected his lover and left for Africa.

Britten discovered the poetry of Rimbaud in the 1930s. He recognised the figure of an artist as an outsider and more importantly identified with the gay Rimbaud. I choreographed this piece in the year after Rambert and I parted company and I felt for a while very much an outsider. I needed to make this dance and it felt like an important breakthrough for me. Truthfully it is more about Britten than it is about Rimbaud.

The extracts in the video are from 'Villes', Rimbaud's first impression of Paris as a teeming and intimidating city, 'Marine' reflecting Rimbaud's obsession with  the sea, and then the final moment when Rimbaud struggles to get away from Verlaine and eventually does.

Formally titled Rumours, Visions. First public performance by London Contemporary Dance Theatre at the Aldeburgh Festival  on 11 June 1994. First performed by Richard Alston Dance Company at Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry on 6 November 1996.

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