Art: The theatre steals the show

Dance: RAMBERT DANCE COMPANY, SADLER'S WELLS THEATRE, LONDON

THE GALA opening of the new Sadler's Wells Theatre in Islington was an object lesson in what "working round the clock" really means. For Monday's dummy run there were an alarming number of dangling cables and stray stepladders. Indeed, Islington Council did not grant the all-important performing licence until 25 minutes after the curtain was due to go up. Tuesday night's official opening was less like a student house-warming and more like the real thing, and the great and good were out in force to drink to the sixth theatre on this historic site.

But what to wear? Most people had sensibly concluded that Islington was more matt black than black tie, and the stalls and circle were expensively upholstered with Savile Row and Armani. There were a few ballgowns but these looked more out of place than denim in a theatre that didn't even bother with the traditional national anthem. Photographers combed the excited throng in the foyer in search of famous faces, which included those of Cherie and Tony Blair, Chris Smith, Trevor Phillips, Richard E Grant, Janet Suzman and Wayne Sleep. The house reeked of rich sponsors and massive goodwill. They were ready and willing to have a very good time indeed.

The entertainment was provided by Rambert Dance Company. Rambert are a splendid troupe with a loyal following, but most of the gala audience was really there to see the theatre and kiss air, and the artistic director Christopher Bruce would have done well to remember that. Instead of pulling out all the stops with a crowd-pleasing programme, he presented an over- long quadruple bill that was very much business as usual. There were two works from Jiri Kylian, artistic director of Netherlands Dans Theater, one from the distinguished American choreographer Paul Taylor, and a fine new piece from Bruce himself. It was a class act and superbly danced, but it was not the stuff to give this lot. The result was perversely low- key and although the audience received the excellent dancers with hearty politeness, there was none of the enthusiasm they would have shown for a more cannily chosen programme.

And it is not as if Rambert does not have blockbusters in its repertoire - Bruce may be weary of pleasing crowds with his exhilarating Rolling Stones piece, Rooster, but it would have made a better calling-card for Rambert and for modern dance in general.

The new Wells certainly deserved a show that pulled out all the stops and showed off the potential of this fine purpose-built dance house. The wide, handsome stage is truly magnificent and although the auditorium itself is not a thing of beauty, the sightlines are excellent and it will provide a discreet and flexible setting for any number of presentation styles. And the intervals aren't bad, either. Old Wells-goers, inured to the smelly squeeze of the old bar and foyer, could hardly believe the airy generosity of the public spaces. As the double-decker buses whizzed by outside, passengers turned to gaze in wonder at the gilded folk behind the vast new wall of glass. A great occasion. It is a pity that Rambert didn't quite rise to it.

A version of this review appeared in later editions of yesterday's paper. Rambert's bill of `August Pace', `Axioma 7' and `Embarque' runs at Sadler's Wells (0171-863 8000) until 17 October

Louise Levene

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam