Britain's Wayne Sleep and the Dash troupe
London — ''Dash,'' according to Webster's Dictionary, means ''to knock, throw, hurtle or thrust.'' ''Sleep'' is defined as ''complete cessation of conscious life.''
But put quicksilver ballet star Wayne Sleep into the new dance group Dash and you get an evening of nonstop hurtling, thrusting, and throwing action.
Small in stature (five feet, two inches), Sleep is a giant in talent, and he is thrilling London audiences with a new revue-style concept of dance, popularizing it for those who would normally turn from the idea of spending a whole evening watching it.
Wayne Sleep trained at the Royal Ballet School and has been a member of the Royal Ballet Company for 17 years. He sees the need here in England to train dancers in more than one form of dance - a need for a general center that offers ballet, modern dance, tap, and jazz, with acting and singing as well.
These dance qualifications are the talents that he and his lively touring troupe offer in a battery of nonstop motion - often comical - that has been breaking box office records around England and is now at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London.
The two-hour program starts with a spotlight isolating feet performing four types of dance technique (accompanied by music far too noisy even for younger, disco-attuned ears), and it finishes with the troupe still dashing in all directions with as much energy as it started with.
There is hardly a moment when Sleep himself is not hurtling himself around the stage like a speeding greyhound after a rabbit (in grand jetes), or, with rapid costume changes, spoofing the world of entertainment from sports to ballroom dancers.
One moment he is Olympic medalist Olga Korbut of the Soviet Union in red leotard and mini pony tails, executing gymnastic floor exercises, beaming and waving coyly at the crowds, and calling out ''spasiba'' (thank you), ''da,'' and ''nyet.'' The next minute he appears as John McEnroe, waving a real tennis racket in a mimed outburst at an imaginary umpire and then tap-dancing his way through a tennis match.
Classical ballet is seen in a different light when his pas de deux with a toweringly tall ballerina is accompanied by a tape recording of their ''thoughts'' and impressions about each other: ''They never told me he was so small . . . ,'' ''I've told her time and time again not to eat garlic before the show . . . ,'' ''She's had pasta again for lunch - what she needs is superman to lift her . . . .''
In another scene, the four cygnets of ''Swan Lake,'' with Sleep as one of them, come out in the usual white tutus and feather headdresses, but instead of satin slippers they all wear tap shoes.
Sleep's feather tickles him, his head always moves in the wrong direction, and when the three others have taken their bows and left the stage, he seizes his moment and returns to the captive audience as the dying swan, fluttering until he keels over backward.
The audience loves it.
His ''bluebird'' from ''Sleeping Beauty'' is gunned - actually, sprayed - down in full flight. The program notes read: ''music: Tchaikovsky. Choreography: Petipa/Fisons.'' Fisons is a British Company that produces weed and pest killer.
The Dash routines are full of comedy, and it is this joie de vivre that shines through with individual and collective talent and stamina. There are no pauses between dance scenes, and the ''episodes'' - 12 in Act I and 11 in Act II , are slick and short enough for everyone's attention span.
In 1971, Sleep's name was recorded in the Guiness Book of Records, listing him as having achieved the greatest number of entrechats in one jump. The balletic step is a crisscrossing of the legs in front of and behind each other. Sleep, in a jump that kept him airbound for 0.71 seconds, achieved an entrechat douze - five crosses plus initial steps.
He is remembered fondly by many children as the Naughty Squirrel Nutkin in the filmed ballet ''Tales of Beatrix Potter.'' In 1981 he starred as magical Mr. Mistoffolees in the hit musical ''Cats.''
It was his beginnings as a dancer with the Royal Ballet that brought him to the notice of the public. His turns and leaps across the stage kept everyone gasping, and he never failed to impress with the final moments of ''Les Patineurs,'' in which, as the ''blue boy,'' he combined turns with his leg a la seconde (straight out at the side) as the curtain fell.
Indeed, he repeats the moment for the Apollo Victoria crowd, whose last view of him is one of spinning motion.
Wayne Sleep is an object lesson in how to expand a dancing career.With his short stature, he foresaw no future as a leading man - Siegfried, Albrecht, Prince Charming - even though he was physically able to dance the parts.
Yet he has a stunning array of talents, boundless energy, imagination, and loads of fun. Now, instead of dancing just once or twice a week, he is a superstar in his own right, dancing as often as he wants to.
''I'm only happy when I'm working,'' he says - which is just as well, since the London season of Dash has been extended once again. Then he goes straight to Bristol to do a program for the BBC.