Sadler's Wells Sampled, Sadler's Wells, London

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The Independent Culture

Sadler's Wells Sampled is an annual weekend of dance pick and mix. The programme shows off contemporary dance's variety – from hip-hop to ballet to flamenco – while giving a preview of the coming season. Tickets are cheap and the house is packed and happy, with people also trying out games and workshops.

On stage, there's a deliberate mix of tone and pace. Saturday's performance opened with Rojas & Rodriguez in a sleek, stripped-down flamenco performance. The two stars danced a speedy duet, feet drumming out rhythms. A corps of women in red swept across the stage, castanets whirring. The style was glossy and colourful rather than fierce.

Evenings of short excerpts tend to favour quick, virtuoso numbers over quieter, more lyrical works. This programme balanced the two, moving on to the white-swan pas de deux from Swan Lake, danced by American Ballet Theatre's Michele Wiles and David Hallberg. They quickly established the atmosphere of the lakeside, with Hallberg partnering tenderly.

Flying Steps, a German hip-hop crew, were on spectacular form. The seven dancers swaggered on to a blare of Seventies funk. After collective stomping, soloists jumped forward to show off their best steps. The fast, confident performances included headspins, flips and one-handed handstands. A pair of dancers even went into a double headspin. The whole sequence had exuberant energy and punch.

In contrast, Russell Maliphant's solo Two keeps the dancer on one spot, the perimeter marked out by Michael Hulls's lighting. Dana Fouras started to move in silence, bending and swinging her arms. As Andy Cowton's music built up, Fouras drew her audience in, moving with contained force.

There was a second swan pas de deux, from Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, with male swans. As the Swan, Richard Winsor, in Lez Brotherston's famous costume, moved easily, but he could have been wilder.

Les 7 doigts de la main are a Canadian circus troupe. One man worked a giant Hula Hoop followed by a team who built a tower of smaller rings and dived through them. Finally, they jumped together, several people passing through the hoops at the same time, from different directions. It had the effect of a conjuring trick and was a spectacular finale for a lively evening.

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