Dance: The young person's guide to ballet

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The Independent Culture
IF SADLER'S Wells had a resident company, Rambert Dance would surely be it - now giving its third season there since the theatre reopened last October. Choosing from a wide repertoire, the emphasis this time is on popular music and work meant to appeal to young audiences (with specially low prices to reinforce the effect).

David Byrne wrote four songs for The Golden Section, the brilliant finale of his 1981 Broadway collaboration with Twyla Tharp. "Pure energy" is how Tharp describes their joint work, and the dancers are certainly set running, jumping and twisting all the time.

Do I remember Tharp's own company giving it a little more wildness some years ago? Perhaps so, but already some of the Rambert's dancers coming new to it give it full impetus: Matthew Hart, pirouetting like crazy, Christopher Powney exhilaratingly powerful, and the exuberant Deirdre Chapman, especially caught my eye.

Such a melee would normally end a show to send the audiences home all hepped up. But this programme has two new works that sandwich it. Neither of them really lives up to it, but finding new choreographers has always been part of Rambert's purpose.

Peter Morris's "ambient club score" for Gaps, Lapse and Relapse is not for the likes of me, but others enjoyed it. Jeremy James set his cast of six moving quirkily to it, while Ian Beswick's busy lighting plot alternately revealed and concealed them.

Rafael Bonachela provided something not dissimilar on a smaller scale in Three Gone, Four Left Standing, his first ballet. The four dancers fidget quietly about the stage, while one of them, Elizabeth Old, is heard speaking her own poems on a tape overlaid with multiple lines of viola. The finished product, if somewhat arcane, is not without promise.

The ever popular Rooster got the biggest cheer - not only for its brash Rolling Stones recordings, but for the way Christopher Bruce's choreography brings to life both the period of that music and the people they sang about. Why don't more choreographers try using character and anecdote to give their ballets bite? It never fails for Bruce.

John Percival

Until 22 May. Box office: 0171-863 8000