"I DON'T make dances to make a statement,“ says the choreographer Christopher Bruce.“I want to make good, well-crafted dance works and if it manages to say something, that’s wonderful. That’s the icing on the cake.”

He is talking about Ghost Dances, one of his most famous pieces, choreographed in 1981 and rarely out of the repertory for the next 20 years. Now he is reviving it, after a short break, and hopes that it will speak just as strongly to a new generation.

It was inspired by a letter he received from the human rights activist Joan Jara, whose husband Victor, a Chilean singer, poet and theatre director had been tortured and killed in the Pinochet coup which seized power in Chile in 1973. Danced to the traditional folk music, it uses Day of the Dead images – the skeleton exposed on the front of the body – to suggest the ferocious oppression that led to thousands of people being murdered across South America at the time.

It had an enormous impact when it was first staged. No one had seen anything like it and its message – that death comes, but people rise up again and again – was powerful and moving. “I say to the dancers as I revive it now, you are constantly dashed to the floor, but you keep rising, you go on,” says Bruce. “There is a kind of defiance and pride there. You have seen it on the streets all over the world. People are incredibly courageous in these situations, they bounce back and in the end these regimes will tumble.”

Now 71, Bruce holds a unique position in British dance. As a dancer and then a choreographer with Rambert from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, he was encouraged by the company’s founder Dame Marie Rambert, who had worked with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.

From the moment it was first seen, Ghost Dances worked – and it has gone on inspiring audiences in all its subsequent revivals.

See it at Mayflower Theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday when a triple bill also includes triple bill also includes A Linha Curva, Rambert’s samba-flavoured party piece, and heart-breaking love story Transfigured Night.

Tickets: 023 8071 1811 or mayflower.org.uk