Ballet Boyz

The first act entitled ‘Fourteen Days’ showcases the work of four somewhat different choreographers in their attempts to collaboratively explore the intrinsic theme of balance, crafted in just two weeks each. The second consists solely of the presentation of their most famed work ‘Fallen’. There is something endearing about the concepts explored even if the execution at times appears to fall short.

The cast and creative teams consist almost entirely of men, at times this allows for an interesting provocation of typical ideas of masculinity. Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘Us’ encapsulates this beautifully as we watch male energy collide in a duet that is captivating in both an abstract and practical capacity. The physical and emotional exchange that occurs between the two dancers is often faultless, the themes of balance allowing for the crafting of a clear story which is undeniably satisfying as by this point the audience is crying out for intelligibility. Wheeldon manages to weave together a physical dialogue that truly exhausts the visual and bodily potential of a male duet, the theme of balance beautifully expressed through a myriad of lifts and counters.

Similarly, in ‘Human Animal,’ Ivan Perez achieves a work that is both intelligent and impressive to observe.  The dancers parade around the stage in a style reminiscent of equestrian dressage. The physical control of the dancers is worthy of note, each stylised toss of an imaginary mane perfectly in tune with one another as well as the emotive score of Joby Talbot allows for a piece that is undeniably absorbing and lifts the tone of the evening. It is in this piece that any subtler themes of modern masculinity appear dominant, six stallions parading around in nothing but a floral shirt one cannot help but wonder why more of a social comment has not been made.

In Craig Revel Horwood’s ‘The Indicator Line’, the tone shifts dramatically which does make the viewer question the presence of the piece. The men mechanically parade around in a style that lacks the subtlety of the other works. At the very least it is entertaining, Charlotte Harding’s showy, melodramatic score heavily carrying the dance. Whilst this piece too remains clearly devoid of nuanced meaning, ‘The Title is in the Text’ does the opposite to extreme. The most literal thematic referencing here with the use of a see-saw as a central prop. If taken at face value, the choreography of Javier De Frutos is itself astounding based on the sheer ability of the dancers to navigate this somewhat unpredictable prop. Visually this allows for a piece that truly showcases the true strength and talent of the cast. However, the attempted social commentary here seems contrived, the seeking of a deeper meaning leaves the audience somewhat confused along with a score that, whilst dramatic, is at times uncomfortable. The lighting design of Paul Anderson must be acknowledged for its creative intention and skilful shedding upon the stage adding further depth to the performances of the first act.

The second act again exemplifies the benefits of an entirely male cast. Russel Maliphant’s choreography uses a dialogue that is captivating and continuously exciting for the audience. The piece is intense, atmospheric and at times emotionally provocative, a worthy addition to the evening.

The choice for a solely male-dedicated evening is an interesting one and in this case, sadly it suggests a necessity for a female lens.

 

Guest Reviewer: Maddie Flint

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