Arts & Entertainment The Strictly Come Dancing cast pose at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham

Wembley Arena, London

DANCE / Blank rage: Judith Mackrell on Teshigawara and Romeo and Juliet

Japanese choreographer Saburo Teshigawara is a consummate artist of surfaces - brilliant, inventive, precise - but chillingly impenetrable. His stage is not just a space where he can dance or rest, it's an immaculately assembled piece of installation art. '1000 books and 1000 shoes,' says the publicity for Bones in Pages at the Place, and you believe it. The books, facing out with their pages ruffled, line the walls in textured, light-reflecting patterns. The shoes are lined to cut a huge shadowy swathe across the floor. Sections of chair and table are stuck on to large perspex screens - and these complete the vision of a hyper-orderly world where everyday objects lose their substance to become shapes or ideas.

In rehearsal: stars prepare for Royal Ballet's new season

(Photograph omitted)

DANCE / Up, up and away

THE choreographer Siobhan Davies is going one way - and it's up. She is a recent winner of an Olivier Award for outstanding achievement in dance, and her latest piece, Wanting to Tell Stories, shows there is plenty more where that came from.

DANCE / Triple treat

THEY'RE cooking their triple bills according to a new recipe at Covent Garden, and on Friday the guests left still licking their lips. The revised Royal Ballet menu is an overture, a new/light/ familiar piece, and finally a big number. This time there is George Balanchine's Ballet Imperial, David Bintley's 'Still Life' at the Penguin Cafe and Kenneth MacMillan's Gloria.

DANCE / Agony and the ageing process: Louise Levene reviews Darcey Bussell's Aurora, plus work for older dancers

ONLY a sadist could conceive a ballet in which the ballerina has to perform an agonising sequence of slow balances within minutes of stepping on to the stage. Cruel and artificial, it exemplifies ballet at its most unforgiving - and its most exhilarating. Last Saturday night a pink-tutu'd Darcey Bussell - looking all of 15 - stepped into the spotlight at Covent Garden and began The Sleeping Beauty's dreaded Rose Adagio. A shaky start became a promising debut that displayed her sure technique and sweet personality. Her long limbs were a joy to watch as she picked her way through retires like a fastidious flamingo. It was her second three-act debut in four weeks and she inhabited the character of Aurora just as freshly and convincingly as she had danced Cinderella. Less convincing was Jonathan Cope, who sketched the prince's romantic agony with peevishness. He made up for it with smooth dancing, considerate handling and Byronic good looks.

DANCE / Riches from rags: Stephanie Jordan on Darcey Bussell as Cinderella at Covent Garden

ASHTON's Cinderella is one of those hardy ballets, so strong in architecture and varied in feeling that it survives even when its detail is slackly realised. Nowadays, indeed, it is routine for the younger Royal Ballet dancers not to believe fully in Ashton steps and style. It is a pleasure, then, to see that Darcey Bussell, making her debut in the title role, is already warming to some of the finer points of the ballet.

DANCE / The prince of new territory: Sir Kenneth MacMillan died at Covent Garden on Thursday. Judith Mackrell pays tribute

IT was an extravagantly painful and theatrical conclusion to one of ballet's most creative careers. As the curtain came down on the funereal epilogue to Mayerling, the heroine's coffin had just been lowered into the ground, the men in black had taken guard over the grave and a single mourner had left the darkened stage in tears. Less than a minute later Jeremy Isaacs and Anthony Dowell appeared on stage to announce that the creator of the ballet, Sir Kenneth MacMillan had suffered a heart attack during the final act, and died.

DANCE / Selected steps: Judith Mackrell celebrates an uninterrupted evening of Merce Cunningham movement

Watching one of Merce Cunningham's Events is a peculiarly chaste and restful experience for anyone willing to enjoy the liberation from conventional structure and from interval disruption. These performances don't feature separate works but are assembled out of bits and pieces of the repertoire, strung together into a continuous 100 minute show. The viewer - unpressured by the need to perceive the logic of individual works and undistracted by the intrusion of drinks and chat - is drawn into a strange, free-floating world of pure dance.

DANCE / The qualities of Merce that have not waned

THE GRAND old man of contemporary dance, Merce Cunningham, is as brilliant as ever. On Friday night he brought Events to London as part of the Dance Umbrella season to celebrate the life of his long-time partner, the late composer John Cage.
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