IoS dance review: Royal Ballet Triple Bill, Royal Opera House, London
The Lock In, The Brook Theatre, Chatham

Three works by Kenneth MacMillan are a welcome reminder of what ballet can do. In another dance universe, folk and hip-hop unite to stunning effect

Silence doesn't sit easily in a ballet. And it's the absence of music – or any sound at all other than the urgent smack of mouth-on-mouth in an illicit clinch – that galvanises the opening of Las Hermanas (The Sisters). It was made in 1963 and it's still shocking.

At the centre of The Royal Ballet's latest triple bill is Kenneth MacMillan's grim, graphic concentrate of Federico Garcia Lorca's play The House of Bernarda Alba, the story of five sisters house-bound by social propriety and a bitterly repressive mother. Part of the shock comes from the clash of expectations. The realism of Nicholas Georgiadis's set with its creaking staircase and dusty cacti does nothing to prepare you for the bleak shape-making of MacMillan's choreography, or the vicious twang of Frank Martin's harpsichord-concerto.

These young women don't walk across a room – they creep on their pointes, jealous, suspicious, desperate for escape. At one point they form a neat pile of seated bodies on their mother's lap, a warped inversion of the image of emerging womanhood in the great early modernist ballet Les Noces. A suitor is introduced: a smirking specimen, all balls and no brain. The eldest sister, rigid with nerves, is nonetheless determined to surrender to him, not knowing that the youngest already has.

Alina Cojocaru is on searing form as the spinsterish elder sister, Beatriz Stix-Brunell stunning as the burn-in-hell youngest, virtually spatchcocking herself in her abandon with Thomas Whitehead's bonehead of a lover. This is about as nasty as ballet gets, and brutish, not to mention short.

Hard to believe that the other two works on the programme sprang from the same imagination. Concerto, from 1966, is a pure-dance response to a Shostakovich piano concerto whose outer movements zip along without a care in the world. MacMillan divides his cast into three teams decked out in fruit-gum colours, the reds intersecting the orange and lemon teams in great diagonals of joyous leaping. Marianela Nunez and Rupert Pennefather preside over the slow movement with melt-in-the-mouth control.

Requiem, by contrast, is a great cathedral of a piece, sombre in its references (its creation prompted by the sudden death of a close friend) but transporting, whatever your religious position. Gabriel Fauré's luscious setting of the Requiem Mass draws from MacMillan images of surpassing imagination: a cloud of furious shaking fists; women's bodies held aloft and travelled like fleeing souls; a male solo in which a cramped cheek-stand reads unmistakably as a foetus. At one point the dancers simply gather round an intensifying patch of white light into which they disappear, one by one. No choreographer alive today is addressing the big questions of birth, death, being and not being. It's good to be reminded that ballet can do this.

It's good, too, to see England's oldest street-dance forms not just alive and kicking, but devolving. Morris men with their flowers and bells aren't exactly up there with breakdancers as models of cool. But an ambitious new touring show, The Lock In, might just change that.

The inspiration comes from Damien Barber, frontman of the award-winning folk band The Demon Barbers, who supply the floor-shaking live music that alone justifies the price of the ticket. The show opens with the wail of police sirens as three youths – a hip-hop crew in fact – burst into a seemingly deserted pub to escape the law. After strutting their skills-set, they discover they are not alone. The pub's regular clientele includes a trio of female Lancashire cloggers, a longsword and rapper-sword team (not that kind of rapper) and a set of Cotswold Morris men.

At first wary of each other, a keen competitiveness takes hold, aggressive, then increasingly friendly, as each faction finds points to admire in the other. Before long they're sharing and swapping techniques, spurred on by the fiery, beat-driven music, and the plosive blandishments of beatboxer Grace Savage. You'll rub your eyes in disbelief, but stripped of their silly outfits, even the kerchief-waving Morris dances manage to look tough and manly. The Lock In makes for a rousing night out.

Triple bill: (020-7304 4000) to 5 Dec. 'The Lock In': UK tour resumes in February 2013 (thelockindanceshow.co.uk)

Critic's Choice

Birmingham Royal Ballet is nearly always first off the blocks with its Christmas number, and its revival of David Bintley’s glamorous Cinderella production is already packing houses. This is a straightforward take on the story, complete with crinolines, wigs and life-size amphibian coachmen, lizardtails poking from their frock coats. The transformation scene is a dazzler, but the best magic comes from Prokofiev’s darkly glittering score. At Birmingham Hippodrome, to 9 Dec.

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game