Phoenix Dance Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

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The Independent Culture

In this nicely balanced triple bill, Phoenix Dance Theatre puts computer imagery alongside British modern dance roots. All three pieces are new to the company, and form a lively programme.

In this nicely balanced triple bill, Phoenix Dance Theatre puts computer imagery alongside British modern dance roots. All three pieces are new to the company, and form a lively programme.

Eng-er-land, by Darshan Singh Bhuller, is a look at Saturday night in a British city. The dancers get ready to go out to clubs and bars, drink and dance, and pick each other up. They're surrounded by a virtual city - a computer-generated projection by KMA. As dancers cross the stage, a cleverly detailed city scrolls past. Inside the pub, virtual bar stools tremble in time to the music. When the dancers drink, the screens show cartoon liquid poured on them from above. DJ Blessed's music samples street sounds, snatches of song and television noise.

Bhuller takes a cheerful view of pub culture, dipping into his characters' daydreams. As one couple gets together, we see sudden flashes of babies and weddings. As another woman plans a holiday, the screen shows us her imagined beach.

Best of all, a dancer gets lost in music. As he turns, the projections send curving waves from his outstretched hands, then converts them into the pulsing sound display of his hi-fi. It's not all so well-characterised. Encounters meander, sliding into repetition. But it's a light, inventive piece.

In reviving Robert Cohan's Forest, Bhuller is acknowledging his roots. Cohan was one of the pioneers of contemporary dance in Britain; a founder of London Contemporary Dance Theatre (LCDT) and its School.

Forest, from 1977, is an atmospheric pure-dance work. Brian Hodgson's score is made up of forest noises. The dancers spin and zigzag across the stage, stop for duets or solos, then keep going. How good LCDT must have been: Cohan demands smooth, deeply supple movement. It's not easy, but you can see the Phoenix dancers rising to this challenge. Yann Seabra stands poised on one leg; torso bending and swaying. Lisa Welham flows into a back-bend; shoulders beautifully open.

Didy Veldman's See Blue Through, made for Ballet Gulbenkian in 2001, is full of water effects. Stijn Celis's set includes mirrored panels overhead, casting reflected light over the stage. Dancers let their arms drift, as if pulled by gentle currents. They wear short tunics in stretchy white fabric - impossibly stretchy, and built into the dance. In one duet, a woman is held up by her partner's clothes; her head tucked inside his T-shirt. A pulled sleeve stretches right across the stage.

Veldman cuts from water imagery to something sharper. One block of dancers strides in, marching wide-legged. Another group cuts across, overlapping and regrouping. Veldman finds plenty of contrast in her music - Schnittke's Sonata for violin and chamber orchestra. The rhythms are springy; the steps clear and bold. The dancers look confident and alert.

Touring ( www.phoenixdancetheatre.co.uk)

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