New: Currents, Clore Studio, ROH, London

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The Independent Culture

The Clore Studio must be the biggest small venue in London. It's the third theatre in the Royal Opera House, a studio space with a few rows of bench seating. But the studio itself is vast: wide and deep enough to rehearse a full corps de ballet.

The Clore Studio must be the biggest small venue in London. It's the third theatre in the Royal Opera House, a studio space with a few rows of bench seating. But the studio itself is vast: wide and deep enough to rehearse a full corps de ballet.

With the ballet company away, the Clore has been opened up for two summer seasons of dance by outside companies. Snagged and Clored, which opens later this month, was chosen by the choreographers of the Snag company. New: Currents, curated by Tim Tubbs of UK Foundation for Dance and running now, starts with the idea of cultural diversity; these are British-based artists with links to countries from Australia to Zimbabwe.

The Australian choreographer Liz Lea opened the season with a mix of contemporary and Indian classical dance. She slunk like a cat in her solo Inland, sinking down, freezing, darting on. There were touches of Indian classical vocabulary: spread fingers, stretched yoga balances, deep pliés. Lea is a strong, fluid dancer, and it was good to see this solo on the broad stage of the Clore - she had the room to dance on a larger scale. Karen Norris's lighting cast multiple shadows against the white walls.

Lea also showed how long this particular crossover has been going on. Radha is her version of a 1906 solo by the modern-dance pioneer Ruth St Denis, who was inspired by the idea of India. St Denis' solo was a sensation in London and New York. Lea based her version on a 1941 film of St Denis and on consultations with one of her dancers.

We know all this because Lea told us so. Her camp, witty account of the solo and her reconstruction took in divas of early modern dance, postcolonial theory, showgirls and Bollywood. It was entertaining, if a little arch at times, and it drew us into the ideas behind the solo.

Radha is a display piece in which the goddess Radha experiences the five senses before renouncing them in favour of purity. This Radha not only gets to throw herself about in sensual luxury; she gets a throne, a sumptuous costume and a lot of attendants. When she picks up garlands, representing smell, Lea's Radha draws them about her like a showgirl with a mink stole. I don't think this Radha would stand without explanation. We didn't quite see what made St Denis' solo such a hit, but Lea danced it with gusto and a sense of extravagance

The last solo was a disappointment. Dhiva, choreographed by Roger Sinha, relied heavily on the camp side of Lea's persona. She spoke a few lines from William Dalrymple's White Mughals, breaking up the sense with tics and winks and raised eyebrows. She ran through storytelling gestures to the overture to The Barber of Seville. It was frantically busy, but didn't go anywhere.

Season runs to 24 July (020-7304 4000)

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