History at their feet – and in the case of pianist Yuxi Qin, at her fingertips – sums up the triple bill that marks the UK debut of Juilliard Dance from New York.

Two dozen students, some recent Juilliard graduates, some still in training, confidently took us from the serene musicality of Limon's Waldstein Sonata (1971/75) – Qin's mercurial touch underpinning the airy elegance of the dance – through the sensual passes of Nacho Duato's Gnawa (2005), with its thrumming Moorish pulses and warm-blooded midnight rituals, and on, almost into the future with Alexander Ekman's Episode 31, made last December on Juilliard's fourth-year class.

Ekman, still in his 20s, is a wild card provocateur with a flair for conjuring apparent mayhem on a stage. He kicks off with film footage of the students in flash-mob mode taking to the streets and subways of New York before fetching up before us in a motley of school uniform and rampaging flurries of exuberant stompings and leapings. But these breakouts are fiercely detailed and precise, the moves as much a test of technique and control as the clean, courtly lines of the Limon or the liquid electricity that ripples through the Duato. As the suited man in Episode 31 slowly circuits the stage, as if wrapping up the action into a memory of his school days, Ekman (as is his wont) astutely questions what we define as art, or beauty – and by implication, who decides, or indeed teaches, these precepts. As the dancers rip up the floor (quite literally) they look as if unstoppable optimism is coursing through every well-tutored limb in preparation for writing their own dance histories.