Rambert Dance Company, Sadler's Wells, London

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The Independent Culture

In this latest triple bill, Rambert shows off wonderful dancers and mediocre choreography. The stylish performances keep lifting the material, but there's only so much that even these dancers can do.

Christopher Bruce's Hush is danced to a winsome recorded score by Bobby McFerrin and Yo-Yo Ma. It sets a cutesy tone for Bruce's family of clowns, with white faces and red flowers. Parents and children celebrate and squabble, before setting out to face the future.

It's sentimental, but oh, the dancing! The whole cast is nimble and strong, with flowing lines and scampering footwork. Jonathan Goddard and Angela Towler bring authority to the mother and father, with Pieter Symonds, Thomasin Gülgeç, Miguel Altunaga and Estela Merlos nippy as their children.

Aletta Collins's new Awakenings draws on Oliver Sacks's account of patients struck with sleepy sickness. After years trapped almost motionless in their bodies, they respond to a new drug, then sink back into darkness.

The opening image is good: as the curtain goes up, Yaron Abulafia's lighting lets a shaft of light travel over the frozen bodies. Then they start to twitch. Collins gives them a stylised version of the tics that Sacks describes. It's careful choreography, missing the drama of naturalistic body language and the organised force of dance. At one point, Gemma Nixon really seems to awake, her body relaxing as she looks around in confusion. The rest of Awakenings is dutiful, without that sense of insight.

Henrietta Horn's Cardoon Club should be more fun. Dressed in 1960s fashions with long, pointed finger extensions, the dancers strut to Hammond organ tunes. Horn's steps are full of period attitude, but the dancing is stretched thin. Scenes of walking and posing go on forever.





'Awakenings' tour continues to 15 April ( www.rambert.org.uk)

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