Dance: A taste of the Big Apple corps

We don't get the New York City Ballet in London. It would cost a fortune to import them, and an impresario could only make it pay (and keep things affordable) if London had a 3,000-seater venue to put them in.

They go to Harrogate, though. Not all of them, obviously, but a touring group called Stars of the New York City Ballet usually puts in an appearance at the Harrogate Festival about now.

This year, however, it's London's turn, as 15 dancers calling themselves the New York Ballet Stars descend on the Queen Elizabeth Hall with a mixed

programme of Balanchine and some new works. Among the stars are Peter Boal, Christopher Wheeldon, Antonia Franceschi and Amanda McKerrow.

Not everyone is licensed to dance Balanchine. Like Samuel Beckett and George Bernard Shaw, Mr B left strict instructions about how his work could be performed, and the Balanchine Trust has to give permission and aid in the production of every one of his works. The mere fact that an outfit is allowed to perform a Balanchine ballet is a fairly reliable indication of its quality. The Royal Ballet recently lost the right to perform Apollo when a member of the Trust considered that it was not being danced sufficiently well.

Apollo is among the works on offer from the New York Ballet Stars, plus Balanchine's scintillating Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. Newer works in the programme include Circle of Fifths by Christopher (son of Jacques) d'Amboise, and a new piece by the 24-year-old Christopher Wheeldon. Wheeldon, a Lausanne Gold Medal winner, who left the Royal Ballet for NYCB in 1993, has been choreographing steadily since he got there. His latest piece uses Webern's Slow Movement for String Quartet, which will be played live by Opus 20, a 12-piece chamber orchestra.

New York Ballet Stars: An Evening of American Ballet, Queen Elizabeth Hall, SE1 today and tomorrow (0171-960 4242). Correction: John Percival's reference to MacMillan's `Manon' on 18 July was inadvertently altered to say that the music was from Massenet's opera of the same name. It isn't

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