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
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Latest stories from i100
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.

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker