The Place prize, final, The Place, London

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The Independent Culture

The Place prize judges say they chose finalists on merit, with no thought of a balanced programme. They got a line-up of considerable breadth.

The Place prize judges say they chose finalists on merit, with no thought of a balanced programme. They got a line-up of considerable breadth.

The Short Still Show, by Tom Roden and Pete Shenton, starts with a blackout and jagged quartet soundtrack. The lights flash on to reveal a chair. Another blackout. At the next flash of light, the chair has moved; at the next, Shenton is sitting in it. Each time the lights come on, there is a new, motionless stage picture. Then there's a horrible scream. Lights go up to show Roden hopping about, nursing a stubbed toe.

Roden and Shenton squabble their way through the piece. Shenton argues for modern-dance conceptual minimalism, describing absolute stillness. Roden, illustrating it, gets bored and sneaks off. Both dance with deadpan awkwardness. It's very silly and very sharply timed.

There is strong dancing in Hofesh Schechter's Cult - legs lifted boldly into smooth lines, shoulders swung into soft little shimmies. This is a cult, but it isn't quite unison movement. Schechter lets his cult members move around within the same style, until one tries to get out altogether. The framework is more heavy-handed. A rattling voiceover talks frenziedly of something to die for, and someone in a gorilla suit lurks symbolically in the background.

Rosemary Butcher's Hidden Voices is a brutal exercise in minimalism. Cathy Lane's soundtrack samples voices into unrecognisable sound. The dancer Elena Giannotti stands with feet apart, shifting her weight in a hurried back-and-forth movement. She keeps this up for 15 minutes.

Sometimes she flaps her arms, looks over her shoulder or stamps with the back foot rather than bouncing. There are no other changes. The piece is an endurance test, a point made at exhausting length.

The voices in Rafael Bonachela's duet E2 7SD are the dancers' diary entries, tired or excited, describing work and weather and emotions. The dancers cling to each other, then turn or flip away with matter-of-fact athleticism.

Bonachela's duet isn't romantic. The mood is somewhere between camaraderie and emotional support. Complex lifts start with a touch on the back or shoulder, a light reminder of the job in hand.

Bawren Tavaziva's Umdlalo KaSisi is a commemoration dance. Tavaziva's own soundtrack is African folk music, with songs and laments. Five dancers stand in a group, bobbing and turning in place. They unwind scarves from their hair, trailing them through the air. In the sober central duet, the woman seems to be leaving; the other dancers gather around her. They move well, but this is a soft-edged dance: Tavaziva doesn't bring lament or celebration into focus.

To 25 September, when the winner will be announced (020-7387 0031)