Dance: No bum notes on Choros line

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The Independent Culture
WHEN DAVID Bintley created Choros at Sadler's Wells in 1983 he was thought to be giving the Royal Ballet dancers a hard time by the demands he made on their technique. But now that it has been revived by the company he currently directs, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the easy, handsome way they do it shows the strength of the present dancers. And if you want evidence of their versatility, note that only a few days before tackling this pure dance piece they looked equally good in a contrasted Bintley ballet, Hobson's Choice, where everything hinges on plot and character.

Hobson is described by Bintley as "an English ballet", with much justice considering the subject, steps and style. In Choros, the inspiration is officially ancient Greece, but from what I read about dances in the old comedies and even tragedies it may be just as well that this is not interpreted too strictly. Accounts of nude boys, of girls vying to display the prettiest buttocks, and words such as "lewd", "suggestive" and "lascivious", occur in the most scholarly volumes. Well, there's none of that in Choros, and although historical forms dictate the ballet's arrangement into a sequence of contrasted episodes, the real subject is simply the joy of dancing, expressed in a wide variety of mood and pace.

Terry Bartlett's simple, elegant designs set the dancers within in a framework of climbing bars, as in a gymnasium, and his figure-hugging costumes have hints of athleticism. This is especially apt in Chi Cao's lithe, Pyrrhic solo, where he may be at different moments a discus thrower or a warrior with a shield; also in the comic episode Kordax, where Dorcas Walters through her nimble speed has to outwit three flamboyantly self- absorbed young men.

In the section called Emmeleia, evoking the dances from the old tragedies, the bars around the stage take on a new function as those of a ballet studio, suggesting that their daily exercises are cause enough of grief for the dancers - except that the routines quickly take on a glow of pleasure, at least for us watching.

Choros is the oldest of his own works which Bintley has remounted, and its varied score by Aubrey Meyer was the first that he had specially written - a practice that deserves to be more widely followed by choreographers to keep ballet lively and influential among its sister arts.

John Percival