Dance Rambert Coliseum, London

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The Independent Culture
Past and present fruitfully collide in Rambert's 70th birthday celebrations at the London Coliseum with two programmes that show off the breadth of the company's repertoire and the emotional range of its dancers. Tuesday night's only low point occurred during Ohad Naharin's tiresome Axioma 7. As a rule of thumb, any piece that involves large numbers of chairs is probably well worth a miss. There are honourable exceptions (Pina Bausch being the most obvious), but Naharin's piece isn't one of them, particularly as it also embraced that other dance cliche, frantic dressing and undressing. The audience didn't care. The celebrity-packed house was buzzing with happy excitement and would gladly have sat through the dancers doing their Alexander technique exercises.

Tuesday's glowing centrepiece was Robert Cohan's 1975 classic Stabat Mater, while the evening concluded with Christopher Bruce's Meeting Point, created in 1995 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations charter. It features six tail-coated couples who enact the trials and triumphs of diplomacy, symbolised at one point when their hands play an elaborate game of scissors / stone / paper in a diagonal shaft of light. The never-ending cycle of talks about talks is well paralleled by Michael Nyman's Where the Bee Dances, superbly played by Gerard McChrystal and London Musici.

Wednesday's programme featured a long overdue revival of Antony Tudor's 1937 Dark Elegies, which conjures not only the keening pain of bereavement but also the anger at the waste of young life and the agony of leading a life bereft. The evening concluded with Bruce's Rolling Stones ballet, Rooster. In any other theatrical field a work with such bankable charms would be scheduled twice nightly to cash in on its popularity; Rambert has more restraint and Bruce plans to rest his creation for a while - a stern decision that will disappoint the many who adore its foxy mixture of wit and social comment.

The Coliseum season has almost completely sold out thanks partly to Rambert's competitive pricing: no ticket above pounds 20. This strategy, coupled with safe and appealing mixed bills is all part of Bruce's long-term plan to win new audiences for dance. With dancers and musicians of this quality, in works of such widespread appeal, he is sure to succeed.

n Season ends tomorrow. Booking: 0171-632 8300

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