Uproar, outrage and vituperative scandal marked the 1912 Paris premiere of Nijinsky's L'apres de midi d'un faune – the final, masturbatory gesture being pilloried in Le Figaro as a gesture of "heavy shamelessness".

The ballet, set to Debussy's beguilingly lush score, would soon disappear from the repertoire of the Ballet Russes and was thought to be lost until specialists reconstructed it from Nijinsky's notebooks in the 1980s.

Now Rambert Dance Company is due to premiere a new work, What Wild Ecstasy, that is a centenary response to Nijinsky's radical choreography. Artistic director Mark Baldwin will not, however, be making his moves to the Debussy. Thanks to the PRS for Music Foundation's New Music 20x12 scheme – part of the Cultural Olympiad – Rambert has been able to commission a new score from rising young talent Gavin Higgins. The first outing for this piece is at His Majesty's in Aberdeen tomorrow night.

Higgins, not yet 30, has already amassed an intriguing back catalogue that embraces works for brass bands and a series of solo piano pieces called Urban Fairytales, with titles such as Prince Charming pays for sex and Rapunzel goes to Ibiza. You sense he'd be willing to cut a raunchy faun some slack, so it seems highly appropriate that his early discussions with Baldwin veered briskly away from ancient Greece to more modern contexts where mating instincts might strut their dancey stuff.

"We started talking about the 1990s rave culture," says Higgins who, even though he was too young to take part, nonetheless has intensely personal memories of the trend. He explains: "I grew up in the Forest of Dean, right in the heyday of illegal raves. I remember, vividly, being in bed at night, hearing the sounds of mating foxes – quite terrifying en masse, for a child – alongside the volume of big, big sound systems coming out of the forest. And it did have a dark mystery to it. And I do remember I was obsessed with the music at the time." He was also very attached to fairy-tales, the Hans Christian Andersen stories in particular.

"I used to be really disappointed, as a child, when the Disney films always gave you these happy endings," he laughs. "And the Grimm versions seemed to be these strict moral tales –'do this really hard thing and you'll get rewarded, don't and...' well, you'd have to live with the awful consequences. Andersen's work was sad and beautiful, and more honest, I thought. The darkness in them seemed truer to life. And there is, I think, in a lot of my music - certainly in this piece - a mixture of dark elements and real fun. The middle section of What Wild Ecstasy has what I'd call 'boys' playfulness'– the kind of horseplay that's always on the edge of turning into a fight. And that's tied in with humans becoming animalistic – almost like the faun – when they're having a good time, looking for a sexual encounter, a mate."

There are, he says, no Debussy quotes in his score. "He's too distinctive. People would recognise them and they'd be taken away from what you'd written – and anyway, how can you follow Debussy?" He'll laugh, but readily admits this piece was one of his hardest challenges so far – made even more testing by a serious ear infection that left him unable to hear anything for a month last summer. #

What did help, however, was his working knowledge of Rambert as a company – he'd spent time there as its first Music Fellow and felt a degree of camaraderie and understanding with the dancers and creative personnel.

"I actually thought all companies were like Rambert," he says. "But no. Very few – other than the big ballet companies – have live orchestras, and fewer still commission new music.

"One of the really tremendous things about this 20x12 commission is that my music will get played again and again, whenever they dance the piece.

"For young composers, there's this pressure – this expectation – to come up with marvellous new work. Everyone focuses on the premiere, but there's no real interest afterwards in ever hearing that piece again. Will it cause a scandal? Well... it would be nice to think it would make some impression!"

Rambert Dance Company is at His Majesty's Aberdeen from tomorrow to Friday.