DANCE: A welcome return to the sauce of Keersmaeker's early choreograph y

Rosas Brighton Festival
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Rosas

Brighton Festival

Showing everybody your knickers may be something we all outgrow in the playground but it is just such saucy, devil-may-care naughtiness that makes Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's Mikrokosmos such a pleasure to watch.

The piece was made in 1987. It is always vaguely reassuring to see a contemporary choreographer reviving their work occasionally. Much as one looks forward to new ventures, they don't all turn to stone at sunset.

Yet, in de Keersmaeker's case there are other, less happy reasons for welcoming this raid on the archive. Siobhan Davies may enjoy solid gold triumph when she twins the 1987 White Man Sleeps with the brand new Art of Touch, but de Keersmaeker old work doesn't reveal the depth of her creativity; it reminds us how stale her ideas have become.

Her revival of the seminal minimalist 1982 duet, Fase, last year made up for the disappointment of her lamentably unequal battle with Mozart in 1996's Un Moto de Gioia, but it also made one wonder if her best years were behind her.

Mikrokosmos is certainly vintage stuff. Key to its success is her inspired use of music. A selection of Bartk and Ligeti is played live on stage, first by the two superb pianists, Laurence Cornez and Stephane Ginsburgh, and then by the Duke Quartet. The almost modular phrases of the music are paralleled in the way an apparently simple step is repeated endlessly as it surreptitiously builds into something else entirely.

We open with a petulant duet to Bartk's Seven Pieces for Two Pianos, danced by Martin Kilvdy and Samantha Van Wissen. The stage is framed by tip-up cinema seats and a monstrous regiment of mother-in-law's tongue. Several hundred of these mysogynistic pot plants are arranged to form a vast art deco cornice at the back. The couple vie for top billing, repeatedly pushing each other aside into quicksilver pirouettes. The peevishly flirtatious mood has a curiously Fred-and-Ginger quality: their dance may be minimalist but it is charged with a humanity and theatricality often lacking in what is sometimes a very sterile, studio-bound genre.

There is more fun and games, from the final knicker-flashing quartet. Black T-shirts, school skirts and very, very sensible shoes make up the uniform for de Keersmaeker's four naughty girls who scamper about the space in a skittish game of follow-my-leader. It's a fraction too long and the lower-fifth can-can now looks in questionable taste, but never mind.

All the de Keersmaeker trademarks are there: the sudden falls, the dressing and undressing, the repetition and, of course, the repetition. In the wrong hands this could be very dull and rather silly but her steps inhabit the music with such saucy familiarity and her four dancers infuse them with such foxy nonchalance that the 80 minutes whizz by.

21-22 May, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London SE1 (0171 960 4242).

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