Rambert, Sadler's Wells, London
Bern Ballett, Linbury Studio, London

Paul Taylor created 'Roses' in 1985, but it is only now that Rambert has taken on this tender work

Martha Graham, perhaps sensing a challenger, used to call Paul Taylor her naughty boy.

In 1950s New York he did cut a radical figure, once performing a minimalist duet that contained no movement at all, prompting a newspaper review that comprised four inches of empty space.

But you wouldn't guess that from Roses, a lyrical work Taylor made in 1985 and which Rambert introduced to its repertoire only last week. Typically, though, Roses is far from flowery – more an exploration of grown-up love, a Valentine to the kind of caring bond that has outlived the blandishments of romance.

The curtain rises on five couples in a dusky light, the women sombre in long navy dresses. The music is Wagner's Siegfried Idyll, played in a scaled-down orchestration with transparent tenderness by the Rambert band conducted by Paul Hoskins. Wagner proves a surprisingly good fit for dance, or at least for Taylor's serene, curvaceous manner, more classical than you expect. Not all of Rambert's dancers are quite classical enough, though, with the result that some of the frozen poses fall short of their full gorgeousness.

Just as you think you've got the measure of this creamy barefoot classicism, Taylor lobs gymnastics into the mix: a woman forward-rolls along the torso of her supine partner; another pair take turns to cartwheel deftly through each other's scissored legs, not once breaking the balletic flow or the spell of grave sweetness that prevails like scent in a garden.

It's only when it's over that you realise what a challenge for the dancers Roses is: they're all on stage all of the time. By contrast, Monolith, by Tim Rushton, is full of violent comings and goings, chunkily athletic, almost caveman in their brutality, accom-panied by noisily exhaled breath.

Rushton, who trained at the Royal Ballet School but who has worked in northern Europe ever since, has developed a tough, expressionistic language unmediated by the British ballet aesthetic. Monolith is set to Peteris Vasks' stark, nordic Piano Quartet, drawing another notable performance from the pit. On a stage dominated by petrified columns against a jagged range of hills, the 11 dancers move with a startling stridency, squatting into cuboid shapes and flinging out limbs like catapults. If dance could speak in grunts, this would – an extraordinary work.

The weak link on the bill is Henrietta Horn's Cardoon Club, a foxy 1960s cabaret pastiche whose jokes are delicious first time, but wear awfully thin on multiple repetition. Inside that tedious 45 minutes is a snappy 10-minute hit begging for mercy.

Paucity of material wasn't the problem in Clara, Cathy Marston's new work for Bern Ballett, making a visit to Covent Garden's Linbury Studio. Clara attempts to get inside the mind of Clara Wieck, the brilliant pianist wife of the composer Robert Schumann, whose tussles with her disapproving father, would-be lover Brahms and mentally unstable spouse, not to mention the burden of juggling a concert career and eight children, were often overwhelming.

The result, sad to say, is dance for the radio. Songs and piano pieces by Wieck, Schumann and Brahms are coolly and beautifully delivered from the stage, but the choreography sheds no light whatever on the topic: it's just a woman duetting fulsomely with a series of men, only one of whom, bizarrely, wears trousers (the dad, one hoped). The point Marston hasn't grasped is that heart-on-sleeve emotion is superfluous in Schumann's world: it's all subtly encoded in the music.

Rambert takes the 'Roses' programme on tour in the autumn.

Next Week:

Jenny Gilbert surveys a sea of naked flesh in the French-Canadian show Un peu de tendresse, bordel de merde!

Dance Choice

You can't see the Royal Ballet unless you go to London, right? Wrong. The BP Summer Big Screens season beams live performances of ballet and opera to 21 locations across the UK, from Belfast, Bristol and Bradford to Waltham Forest and Woolwich. The season kicks off with Manon this Wednesday, starring Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg.

Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
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
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.

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape