Dance: Dial "D" for Davies

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Nobody enjoys bad dance. Except critics. They don't enjoy it at the time, obviously. But as we think it over in our chauffeur-driven Lexuses on the way home, we rub our hands and sharpen our pencils. Jack Tinker, late lamented theatre critic of The Daily Mail, always looked forward to a night out: "If it's good I'll enjoy it and if it isn't? Well, I'm getting copy, aren't I?"

Bad reviews are not a pleasure to write, but it's often easier to say what's wrong with a show than to give chapter and verse on exactly how wonderful it is. There are millions of ways of saying exactly how bad something is, but praise can easily slip over the edge into gush. Take a walk down Shaftesbury Avenue and ask yourself how many ways there are of saying "Fight to get a ticket", "A mesmerising performance", "Dial M for Marvellous", "A triumph" etc.

Which is where Siobhan Davies comes in. Critics are beginning to run out of words for "a superlative dancemaker at her creative peak". Matters aren't helped by the fact that, although each piece is distinct and original, they are all obviously made on the same loom. If she were to start working with pogo sticks, or get Agent Provocateur to do the costumes, then the hacks might have an angle. As if.

Highly serious, blessed with strong individual talent and excellent taste and surrounded by dancers of the first quality, Siobhan Davies just goes on producing fine work designed by David Buckland, lit by Peter Mumford and with music by anyone from Handel to Conlon Nancarrow. The latter was the inspiration for her latest piece 88 (a reference to the number of keys on a piano). The work uses several of Nancarrow's infamous Studies for Player Piano in which the reclusive American composer explored the superhuman polyrhythmic potential of the pianola. These are played live by Rex Lawson, the player-piano virtuoso, and his impassioned reproduction of what one might wrongly imagine to be mechanical music is as much a draw as Davies's glorious dances. Fight to get a ticket.

Cambridge Arts Theatre (01223 503333) 22-23 May 7.45pm

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