DANCE

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Paris Dances Diaghilev: `Petrushka', `Le Spectre de la Rose', `L'Apres-midi d'un Faune', `Les Noces', by the Ballet of the Paris Opera; Performance Arts Channel, cable television, 19 July, 7pm. Don Quixote, by American Ballet Theatre; Performance Arts Channel, 22 July 9pm. The Stone Flower, by the Kirov Ballet; Performance Arts Channel, 26 August, 7pm.

The Performance Arts Channel, exclusive to cable television, has been too much of a secret for too long. Those who have discovered it know that week in, week out, they can catch programmes of dance, opera and music of many kinds. For dance fans in particular, ludicrously under-catered for by terrestrial and satellite channels, this is a real boon that will become more widely available as cable companies continue to expand.

This week is pretty typical. Saturday nights always have ballet programme; tonight's shows the Ballet of the Paris Opera in four works created for Serge Diaghilev's famous Ballet Russe in its heyday. Petrushka, with Stravinsky's music and Fokine's choreography enhanced by Alexander Benois's brilliant designs, is set during the Butterweek Fair in old Saint Petersburg and shows a puppet who struggles bravely and briefly into real life. Fokine was the choreographer also of Le Spectre de la Rose, to music by Weber, which provided the legendary Nijinsky with probably his most famous role; Manuel Legris inherits that.

In this recording, Nijinsky himself choreographed L'Apres-midi d'un Faune, which at its premiere caused a scandal for its eroticism. Charles Jude (Nureyev's favourite and greatest discovery) takes the title role with tremendous flair. Finally, a work to show off the strength of the Paris ensemble - Les Noces, a stark peasant wedding ceremony brought to gripping life by Stravinsky's music and the overwhelmingly powerful choreography of Nijinsky's sister, Bronislava Nijinska.

The Paris Opera Ballet is one of the world's greatest dance companies, and another is the Kirov Ballet from the Maryinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. Those who cannot get to see them live in their season at the London Coliseum might like to know that their production of Prokofiev's The Stone Flower is next Saturday's offering on Performance. On Tuesday night, there is American Ballet Theatre in Mikhail Baryshnikov's production of Don Quixote - not half such fun as the Kirov staging which still has three more London showings to come next weekend, but it does have Baryshnikov himself dancing with Cynthia Harvey in the leads.

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