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In the New Zealand Ballet's 2006 triple bill programme we experience three different faces of the company, seeing it at its strongest for some time.

Christopher Hampson's softly serene, allegro-paced Esquisses, set to beautifully lambent piano studies by Charles-Valentin Alkan, is somewhat of a luxury work. It lets us observe the dancers closely, a handful at a time, the soundness of their technique, and the way they meld their individual strengths to become an ensemble.

Despite the steady morphing of the choreography, which covers every possible variation of floor pattern and grouping in the classical repertoire, demanding precision and fine control, they make it look effortless.

A selection of Beijing opera and Zhoushan gong and drum music played by virtuoso percussionist Yim Hok-man provides the setting for Banderillero, a contemporary work choreographed by Javier de Frutos which offers something of a group portrait. Resonant drums and, at times, raucously exotic brassy gongs and cymbals provide an aura of drama and ritual, and the rectangular panel of spotlit stage in which the dancing takes place immediately becomes an arena for encounters between men and women.

Dancing is fluid, sensuous, the movement complex, with hips and pelvis circling horizontally, or passing an undulant ripple vertically, the torso spiralling, and arms adding calligraphic flourishes.

The women dance while men watch from the shadows, then women watch men, and the squads of men and women switch backwards and forwards into the light before the genders start to mix.

There are volleys of partnering interspersed with solos, and changing combinations of jumps and falls and lifts and rolls and swings. But the proceedings are formal, each dancer retaining integrity rather than merging with another, and at the turning point, the man's invitation to his chosen one is turned down, and there's a sense that this ritual will be repeated many times before the conventions will be broken.

Michael Parmenter's closing work is classic modern dance in Expressionist style. It tells of an arranged marriage, and closely follows the narrative laid down in the Russian choral score for Stravinsky's Les Noces III (The Wedding).

The backdrop by John Verryt sets the events inside a traditional Russian church with exposed beams and rafters glowing as if under lantern light.

Chairs are arrayed variously as the wedding parties assemble, are blessed, intermingle, celebrate, get drunk together, and the marriage is symbolically consummated as the bridal couple walk hand in hand across a human mattress formed by the overlapping bodies of guests.

The choreography is masterly in its attention to every detail and its smoothing of every transition, and the dancing is strenuous.

Emphasis is on split-second timing and accurate placement while maintaining the small differences of individuals within the ensemble.

The six key roles were well portrayed, with Vivencio Samblaceno jnr standing out in the pivotal role of Father of the Bride, and the company cohesive in support.

What: Trinity by the RNZ Ballet
Where and where: ASB Theatre, The Edge, August 2-5