The It company from New York City boasts 14 of the best dancers that the money of its founder and funder Wal-Mart heiress, Nancy Laurie, can buy and what those 14 fabulously honed and interestingly diverse beings can do is certainly superb. It is a party of instantly recognisable personalities - gorgeously Amazonian Ebony Williams, dynamic Matthew Rich with a long swishing ponytail, wistful-faced Vania Doutel Vaz - all bound by a shared, passion-fuelled talent.

The choreographic line-up is also sterling.

Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite's Grace Engine opens the triple bill programme. A solitary figure in a dark suit crosses a dimly lit stage, his apparent wariness accompanied by the sound of magnified footsteps. And then a second figure emerges from the wings. Pite plays with the nature of time and humanity's journey along its line, Owen Belton's score adding subtle railway rhythm. It is a dark journey, shot with occasional uncomfortable stabbings of bright light, aggressive at times, forever searching. Pite's movement vocabulary features whole body waves, extreme arabesques and balances, and languid and complex lifts, especially in two beautiful duets that come as rare breakouts from the mostly fraught and suffering ensemble.

Violet Kid, by Hofesh Shechter, the feted Israeli choreographer based in London, follows and continues the theme of a dark and frightening universe and mankind's struggle within it. Shechter's participants seem younger though, less measured and their angst has an adolescent tinge. Group jumpings and jerky skipping on the spot form motifs that speak of tantrums. But Shechter also offers a lyrical and organic plasticity, a score that moves from the urgent to a quiet whispering, and a lighting design that allows an emerging bloom of colour.


Jo Stromgren's Necessity, Again is a veritable romp, in comparison, a "sock ballet" in which rather dowdy costumes are underlined with this unglamorous footwear, which enables dancers to slip and slide. The work is far from unsexy, however. The piece is "a homage to the free space between the words". Paper banners and loose pages litter the stage. What transpires is very free, indeed.

What: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
Where: The Civic, to Sunday