No contemporary Spanish dance company is complete without the words "combines classical technique with the fire and elegance of traditional Spanish dance". The stereotypical image of Spain as a hot-blooded country, populated by volatile brunettes is often sustained by the arts it exports. While such deep-seated passions undoubtedly add to the charms of Spanish contemporary dance, they have also tended to inhibit its development.

If there is an exception to this rule it should be Victor Ullate. Although he made his artistic debut in a company assembled by the great flamenco virtuoso Antonio he became a star in Maurice Bejart's Ballet of the 20th Century. Ullate is the artistic director of the Ballet Comunidad de Madrid - the company began life as the Ballet Victor Ullate but a nice cheque from the Ministry of Culture led to a change of name. The company makes its British debut at the Peacock Theatre next week presenting a two-week season of one-act works by Ullate and guest choreographers, Nils Christe and Micha van Hoecke.

The 50-year-old now enjoys a strong reputation as a classical dance teacher at his Centro de Danza Victor Ullate and the rigour and polish of his training is visible throughout the company. Two of his recent graduates have joined the American Ballet Theatre and the Paris Opera Ballet - former stamping ground of Sylvie Guillem.


'Guillem to play Hammersmith shock'. Although the discerning Parisienne has been know to turn her nose up at the spanking new Bastille Opera House, she has agreed to grace Labatt's Apollo when the Royal Ballet slums it there this winter. She will dance MacMillan's Juliet with Jonathan Cope. Other nuggets of good news to emerge from the company's plans during the Opera House's two-year closure is that Viviana Durante, who has been on a year's sabbatical, will return to the strength this autumn.