Dance: Highland springs

Scottish Ballet Sadler's Wells, London Tango Pasin Lyric, London

Scottish Ballet has been through the mill these last few years. Rocked by crisis after crisis, it has had to justify its very existence. Does Scotland really need its own classical dance company? For an answer, one could canvas the far-flung highlands and islands which the company takes pains to visit every year. Or measure the applause at Sadler's Wells last Thursday when it made its first London appearance in 20 years. Stylish, dynamic and hugely ambitious, this outfit bears every sign of becoming a major national asset.

The ambition showed in the choice of programme, beginning with a rare revival of Kenneth MacMillan's Diversions - one of the few plotless works he made and thus, to me, one of the less appealing, despite technical demands which range from the punishing to the downright fiendish. The company seemed more at ease with the tangible emotion swashing around Lila York's Rapture, an extravagant half-hour on the theme of dying and going to heaven. Perhaps only an American could get away with this - but she does, with a pinch of schmaltz and a heavy dose of pizazz.

It's a nebulous opening, limbs rising slowly through murk, like corpses erupting from a graveyard, but then things hot up big time. Air-wheeling figures romp in long diagonals across the stage, boys leap like spring lambs, toes scissoring up to touch foreheads; girls sprint and skid in long, joyful arcs. The score, a grand patchwork of Prokofiev piano concertos, keeps up a cracking pace thanks to pianist Lynda Cochrane and a terrific orchestra which I presumed to be Scottish Ballet's own. The slow movement summons visions of death and decay, then joy breaks out in more teeming upward motion, ending in a crowded tableau like a fully-opened sunflower. Impossible optimism, hopeless escapism, but that's what ballet does so well.

The meat of the evening should have been the commission from Tim Rushton, a young British choreographer based in Denmark, but nIghT LiFe (does he need a new typewriter?) turned out to have more style than content. This must be the first ever dance work inspired by a chat room on the Internet. It also claims to reflect the life of Glasgow's clubbers, though these characters looked rather too Vogueish to have spent many nights on the tiles.

The plot is touchingly naive. Girl seeks good time, finds only poseurs and gropers. Girl tries a bit harder, finds boy, and labours to establish a bond, unknown in this world of instant thrills. They kiss. The end. Lez Brotherston's set is a major plus - a series of elegant white prosceniums which take on luscious hints of mauve and grey and cream - and so is the music: not the ear-slamming dub you expect, but Bach at his most sublime. The mood is restrained, the movement modish and easy-on-the-eye, but ultimately rather shallow. All praise though, to the central couple, Lorna Scott and Ivan Dinev, who give gorgeous suppleness and clarity right to the final clinch.

The mating game is also sole focus of the latest Argentine tango show to arrive in London. The difference is that these couples have steam coming out of their ears. Tango Pasin takes on the cabaret format we've come to expect of theatre-tango: cafe tables, a fruity 50-a-day singer, an orchestra of jowly old men who draw astoundingly virile sounds from squeeze box and fiddle, and dancing couples whose major achievement - once you've got over their slicing speed and prowess - is to make you believe they are ready to rut at the drop of a well-dented fedora.

Over the course of two hours you think you get to know these spangly couples and their not-so-private fancies. There's the Dan Dare who appears to crush his partner with his massive bulk while she jabs at him with spike heels; there's the foxy modern duo who go in for tricksy aerial leg-splits, and there's the loping Thirties cove with the air of Robert Donat in The Thirty-Nine Steps with the girl who sports a series of amazing spray-on dresses. I swear I have never seen so many variations on a pencil skirt as appear in this show - sequinned, lamed, tasselled. The only uniform feature is that important split to the hip to let the scissor- legs do their stuff.

Tango, born in the slums of Buenos Aires, has an intriguing history, but like every other tango show we've seen, Tango Pasin fudges it with a brief nod to "the olden days" (a skit in bustles and bonnets) before moving on to a titillating mish-mash of nowadays. Will someone please devise a show which highlights the great dances that went into this urban melting pot: the milonga, say, and the candombe, and the habanera, followed by a step-by-step expose of tango from 1890 to the present. Now that would be a show to get passionate about.

'Tango Pasin': Lyric, W1 (0171 494 5045) to early August

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders