Dance: He still never misses a beat

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The Independent Culture
Baryshnikov

MC93 Bobigny, Paris, France

Bare-chested with sensors, wires and a tiny transmitter attached to his skin, Mikhail switches on a machine at the back of the stage and an insistent thumping fills the air. Heartbeats:mb this new dance is called, and the beating of MB's heart is (give or take whatever Christopher Jonney's "Sound and acoustical creation" does to it) what you hear for most of it.

Sara Rudner, the choreographer, at first seems concerned not to tax that beating heart: gestures, stretches and a little lying down proceed at a relaxed pace. But then he starts walking, running, skipping jauntily around; there are even one or two of those spectacular whirling jumps we thought he had given up.

For a time the heartbeats give way to the Adagio from Samuel Barber's string quartet, played by 's White Oak Chamber Ensemble. But no sentiment creeps in: it stays cool, lucid, controlled, as the dancer explores space and rhythm while the sound explores his own inner workings. The process lasts about 20 minutes and holds the attention right up to the moment when he switches off the machine, letting silence and darkness take over.

This is announced as a work in progress, so if 's rumoured London season happens next summer, it could well take a different form. It formed part of a 10-day series of solo evenings which he gave at Bobigny's MC93 arts centre on the outskirts of Paris.

Each programme was drawn from a current repertoire of solos by seven different choreographers: from Mark Morris's Three Russian Preludes (to Shostakovich) - swift, quirky and sharp - to Jose Limn's Bach Chaconne, showing him in graver, more fluent mood.

The 90-minute programme contained only 40 minutes of dancing, but made up in quality what it lacked in quantity - nobody left feeling short-changed.

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