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A shaky take on Balanchine
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The Independent Culture

Some performances sag just where you hope they'll be at their best. Scottish Ballet's standards have risen under Ashley Page. Its all-Balanchine programme at last year's Festival was seen as a turning-point. In this new mixed bill the dancers are poised for some of the programme - just not in Agon. Balanchine's 1957 ballet sets fierce challenges: sharp footwork, extreme poses, complex rhythms. Here, Scottish Ballet look badly out of their depth. Footwork is blurry, positions snatched rather than held.

The rest of the programme is more flattering. In Afternoon of a Faun, Jerome Robbins moves the encounter of faun and nymph to a ballet studio. Looking out into the audience, the dancers seem to watch themselves in a mirror. Luisa Rocco and Christopher Harrison suggest the youthful narcissism of Robbins's choreography.

Claire Robertson and Erik Cavallari are lively in Two Pieces for Het, by Hans van Manen. The dancing here is coolly polished, lines smooth and assured.

Krzysztof Pastor's In Light and Shadow hopes to evoke the baroque, but his choreography is emptily busy. Dancers flex knees and elbows, throw in some academic steps, skip frantically. But though Pastor asks for nippy footwork, he can't link those steps into coherent phrases. The dancers make the best of it, with Paul Liburd and Soon Ja Lee showing particular attack.

Touring from 19 September ( www.scottishballet.co.uk)

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