Preview: Diversions, on tour, across the UK

Flashes of dance brilliance
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The Independent Culture

Diversions was founded in 1983 by Sholem and Roy Campbell-Moore, both performing and choreographing for the company. The focus is still on new work, with an emphasis on international choreographers. Sholem looks for established artists not yet known in the UK - a cosmopolitan outlook that gives her company a distinctive identity.

In 1999, Diversions became the national dance company of Wales, followed by the gift of new facilities in Cardiff. "Wales has done something unique," says Sholem, "in choosing to have a national company of contemporary dancers. For a small country, it's much more appropriate - rather than having a mini ballet company that they couldn't fund properly."

Within the Millennium Centre, the company's new home is self-contained. The facilities, rehearsal studios and a small theatre, are at the company's disposal, though other artists are invited to use them while Diversions is on tour.

The new building gives the company greater flexibility, with more time to rehearse and prepare new dances. The studio theatre is important, allowing Diversions to experiment with every aspect of a production.

Struck by Lightning, a new work by the Spanish choreographer Juan Carlos, had three weeks of technical rehearsals - "rather than lighting it on the first night in whatever town we happen to be in," adds Sholem.

The work was inspired by Michelangelo's lost picture, known from sketches, Battle of Cascina. Juan Carlos started with its images of energy and tension, aiming for a dance of violent contrasts.

It's the kind of balance Sholem looks for. "I like the mix of virtuosity and character," she says.

Touring to 13 May (see