Dance: Experimenting with tradition

Classics and left-field works are mixed evenly throughout this year. From `The Nutcracker' to experimental works in the `Resolution' season, to a tribute to Ninette de Valois, there's something for everybody

Christmas isn't really over till the last panto closes. English National Ballet will be piling on the calories at the London Coliseum in Sue Blane's candy-coated Nutcracker until 10 January. The Royal Ballet will be trying to cram Ashton's well-loved Cinderella into the Festival Hall's new, improved stage until 17 January. Meanwhile, darker pleasures are on offer at the Piccadilly Theatre where Adventures in Motion Pictures continues to dance Matthew Bourne's wartime Cinderella until 14 February.

New, often experimental work will be on offer at The Place Theatre's annual "Resolution" season of new dance. In the early spring, the Royal Ballet's apprentices will get an airing on the company's "Dance Bites" tour. The last few "Dance Bites" have been disappointing but there's always hope. The currently homeless company then goes to the Barbican with a mixed bill likely to include a revival of The Rake's Progress and a new work by Ashley Page. In the summer, they then return to the West End when the Hochhauser corporation presents them at the Coliseum. They are likely to dance Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, La Bayadere and MacMillan's Manon.

The emotional highlight of the ballet year will be the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dame Ninette de Valois, whose birthday falls on 6 June. Among the celebrations planned by Birmingham Royal Ballet will be a new work by David Bintley written as a tribute to the godmother of British ballet and a revival of de Valois' 1940 ballet The Prospect Before Us. Although the work was never formally notated, it will be pieced together from the long memories of surviving members of the company. BRB will continue to tour Bintley's superb Edward II throughout the spring.

Sadler's Wells continues to camp out at the Peacock until the brand-new Islington theatre opens in October with Rambert Dance Co. The Peacock will continue as a second Sadler's Wells Theatre. Current plans for early 1998 are the usual palatable mix of popular pleasures. Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Flamenco and Tango are already lined up.

Siobhan Davies, queen of modern British dance, is planning a new work using the music of the late Conlon Nancarrow, the American composer whose fiendish compositions could only be realised by the superhuman playing of the pianola. The combination should be mouthwatering.

The Edinburgh Festival is expecting visits from the Dutch National Ballet and the Pacific Northwest Ballet from Seattle who are said to be bringing Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream. Other summer visitors include Twyla Tharp and Merce Cunningham, both at the Barbican. Returning the compliment will be Adventures in Motion Pictures who take their Swan Lake back to the US. The production, which played Los Angeles to rave reviews last summer, finally gets its Broadway run this spring.

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