The 28 dancers crawl out of darkness, moving with a thump and shuffle on the music’s jagged beats
I first heard Rae Woodland at the Nottingham Albert Hall in the mid-1960s when she sang the soprano solos at one of the Nottingham Harmonic Society's annual performances of Handel's Messiah.
One of many dividends from the emergence of Galileo and Montjeu, as heirs to Sadler's Wells, was a new commercial respectability for staying pedigrees. As a result, Coolmore Stud's principal trainer has been able to perform something of a transfusion for the reputation of the Gold Cup, highlight of Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot.
Is that a naked dancer on your lap, or are you just pleased to see me?
If this didn't give them a taste for the game, nothing will. Quite apart from free entry to the Queen's own racecourse, the benedictions shared by 26,595 people here yesterday extended to an immaculate spring afternoon and, for those disposed to take an interest, some pretty serious stuff on the track itself.
Scintillating steps set the stage alight
Ballet is in crisis, with fresh talent and ideas struggling to break through and the major companies obsessed with 200-year-old productions at the expense of new work, according to the head of Sadler's Wells, in remarks sure to cause a sharp intake of breath backstage at his more traditional rivals.
Could a dance show help treat depression? Wayne McGregor's new production may do just that, says Clemency Burton-Hill
With Winter Variations, Israeli choreographer Emanuel Gat takes an earlier idea and stretches it to breaking point. This hour-long duet repeats themes from his earlier Winter Voyage – and repeats them, and repeats them. It wears thin.
Vertical Road, the latest work by Akram Khan, celebrates 10 years of his own company.
How do dance companies survive their founder choreographers? Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, at Sadler's Wells before a UK tour, was created by Ailey, who died in 1989. Directed by Judith Jamison, it's remained one of the world's most successful contemporary companies. Yet it can look bogged down by its need to honour Ailey. This second programme had a cheerful world premiere, but first we had to get through a work of hagiography.
A tropical triumph of a revival
Flemish-Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is known for his collaborations. He's recently worked with Akram Khan, with Shaolin Temple monks, with the sculptor Antony Gormley. Gormley is back for Babel (words): Cherkaoui's multi-cultural cast argue in a mix of languages, framed by steel Gormley shapes that suggest towers or cages.
Reviewed by Zoë Anderson
Akram Khan's Gnosis is built around images of blindness. And what images! It's a work that goes from the grand strength of co-star Yoshie Sunahata, swinging her arms as if beating a great drum, to Khan's astonishing evocation of death by fire, trembling and shaking like flames in the wind.