Back with two of their latest creations, the Balletboyz present to us their cutting-edge, trademark style. Balletboyz are known for showcasing unique and innovative projects, working in collaboration with pioneering creative artists, and incorporating behind the scenes footage of the choreographic process into their work. We witness all these elements in their performance at Festival theatre.
The first of the two pieces, Bradley 4:18, is much darker than I was expecting. The movement is forceful, yet introspective. At times the six dancers (Joey, Ben, Harry, Liam, Sandi and Will) move in ways seeming quite unnatural, even comic – from little boogie actions which feel incongruent with the chaotic jazz music, to stumbling footwork traversing the stage in sweeping circles. The dancers all portray Bradley, a businessman apparently at war with himself. From solo, to duet, to ensemble and back again, the dancers showcase a clearly disturbed character. The piece could certainly be off-putting; especially if you came looking for elegant contemporary highlighting dance technique. However, the clash between aggression and sophistication is intriguing. Under the harsh overhead lighting, it is like watching a clinical examination of a spiralling life. I can’t say that ‘I got it’ or even that ‘I enjoyed it’, but there’s something in this piece that means you can’t quite look away.
In relieving contrast, choreographer, Xie Xin presents us with Ripples. Even without music or description, I know I would have witnessed the ocean before my eyes, expressed by six bodies. Constant, circular motions of the sea rising, falling, twisting around itself in waves are evident in the abstract way they move. The dancers have an effortless connection with one another. Their contact work is completely mesmerising and the dancers are given more chance to show off their expert abilities.
Each performance was prefaced by some recorded footage of rehearsals and interviews with the choreographers and dancers. Whilst informative, I felt the videos lacked energy, setting a flat tone which the dances had to work to lift again. Nevertheless, it was interesting to hear about the creative process. Xie Xin’s frustration at finding a perfect harmony between the energy of male dancers was particularly insightful.
As subjective as the modernist dance style was, the talent of the dancers is undeniable. Even when I was struggling to find meaning in their movements, I was always thrilled by their control over their bodies. The latest Balletboyz pieces are contemplative and have immense depth. I hope to look out for more of their work in the future!
PHOTOS: George Piper