Over the past couple of decades there has been a huge increase in the audience for dance, and, as a result, a huge increase, too, in the number of young people training for a career in dance. This is great for audiences, as we’ve now reached a point where, even in a second-class touring musical, you get very well trained dancers. But, from a dancer’s point of view, it means competition for a place in a good company is fiercer than ever.

The Richard Alston Company has now reached near legendary status, but it’s a company of just ten dancers — five men and five women. Hannah Kidd, from the village of South Moreton, won the single place that was available, out of an audition of 60 dancers. She told me how she began.

“I started when I was about three at a local ballet school run by Judy Bowles — she’s still teaching around the Didcot and Abingdon area. She was quite a successful dancer who had come over from Zimbabwe and been at the Royal Ballet School. Later, I got to a point where there wasn’t enough time to go to school and do serious dance training as well.

“I loved the idea of going to ballet school, and I was fortunate enough to go to Elmhurst (one of this country’s leading schools) when I was 13, and stayed there till I was 18.”

Life at a vocational dance school tends to be rather removed from the real world. Had Hannah enjoyed her time there, I asked. There is a little laugh.

“It wasn’t the most positive experience I’ve had, but the technical training I gained from it was invaluable really.”

The training at Elmhurst is first class, but it’s predominantly in classical ballet. The Richard Alston Company is very contemporary in style, so I wondered how Hannah had made this jump.

“I decided that contemporary dance was a better option for me. I liked the idea of being able to be much more of an individual, and dancing to strengths that you have, rather than fitting in to a classical corps de ballet. Also, I wanted to do a degree in contemporary dance, so I joined The Place (the nucleus of contemporary dance in London), and did my BA as a post-graduate there at the London Contemporary Dance School.”

Auditions for the one place in Richard Alston’s company lasted for two days, with Alston himself keeping a close eye on all the applicants. They included doing class with the company, and having to learn sections of the company’s repertoire in a very short time.

“After the first auditions three of us were asked to come back two weeks later and work with the company for two days, and then I had an agonising weekend’s wait until I found out I had got the place, initially as an apprentice.”

I asked Richard Alston what it was about Hannah that had got her the job. He told me it was partly her style, which has a very strong attack, and partly because she is very striking to look at on stage.

The Alston Company is on tour with a triple bill which you can see at the Wycombe Swan on Tuesday. The order of the works is sometimes changed, but the opening piece is usually a new work by Richard, premiered only last month. It’s called Blow Over and it opens with a duet featuring Hannah and Wayne Parsons, so it will be very easy to identify her.

“I think these three pieces all have a lot of appeal for audiences”, said Hannah, “but in different ways. Blow Over is a very high-energy piece with the whole company on stage. It’s to music by Philip Glass. Body and Soul is by Martin Lawrance, (one of the company’s leading dancers).

“It’s to songs by Schumann performed live in the theatre and it’s really brilliant. Then there’s Shuffle It Right, also made by Richard Alston earlier this year. That’s to Hoagy Carmichael songs, and it’s got a slight music hall feeling to it, and some quite comedic moments in it, too.

“You get to see the individual characters of the dancers coming out, which I enjoy. Because you’re performing, slightly exaggerated traits of your own personality come out in different ways. I don’t try to express a specific character, but the movement tends to flavour how I do it, and really I just try to express how I feel when I’m dancing.”

Hannah is in all three of these works, and seems to be delighted at being in this exciting company.

“I’m very happy and settled. It’s a very nice environment in which you can grow and mature as a dancer, and the performing experience really adds another level. I think your ability as a dancer is enhanced by performing regularly. You have to deal with the difficulties of the day physically, and you also have to work out emotionally how you feel inside, with the adrenaline and the nerves, and channel that into a positive place to deliver the best performance you can.”

n The Richard Alston Company is at the Wycombe Swan on Tuesday. For tickets call the box office on 01494 512000.