Arts & Culture / Reviews

Review: BalletBoyz – TheTALENT

Written for The Wonderful World of Dance
31st July 2014, The Roundhouse

TheTALENT was explosive, subtle and elegant going beyond machismo and delivering some imaginative choreography.

Magicians of movement is the only way to describe this company of ten strong male dancers, with BalletBoyz creating moments to make you quiver – imagine half naked dancers poised in second position with arms tense and nostrils flaring.

TheTALENT consisted of three works from international choreographers and the last chance to see Serpent created by Liam Scarlett and Fallen by Russell Maliphant. A preview of Young Men, choreographed by Ivan Pérez, was also present with the full-length work due to premiere in January 2015.

Throughout the triple bill the dancers appeared to be constantly embattled in friendly combat as they journeyed through harsh landscapes – pools of green, blue and golden light in Serpent and Fallenwhich created almost eerie atmospheres and a silhouetted forbidden forest backdrop in Young Men. This, inside of an incredible venue, together with lighting from Michael Hulls and Tanja Rühl, accompanied by the sounds of the BBC Concert Orchestra live and projections of deserted terrains and cheeky footage from company rehearsals, made for a theatrical and sensory spectacular.

Serpent starts the evening off with shimmering and practically naked bodies as they defy gravity and suspend in the air for a split second longer than seems humanly possibleWearing just nude coloured leggings the beauty of the male physique could be seen, which Scarlett discusses in the opening video. Soft trills from a piano and string instruments follows the tranquil trickling of rainwater as the sounds of the BBC Concert Orchestra smooth the edges of these chiselled men, while they slither through each other. The placement and control that is needed for this seemingly new perspective of partner work is extraordinary. This first piece exemplifies why the word ‘ballet’ is attached to the company, as the dancers show technical finesse.

In Fallen the men tumble and spin on an axis in frenzy. The light reflecting off their bodies creating the image of a sundial and gathering momentum they rebound off each other, skimming over each other’s heads. This finale to the night is magnificently Maliphant, clearly seeing his influences from contact improvisation and the ever popular Brazilian art form of Capoeira. It was also the first and the only time of the night that the orchestra is revealed from behind a transparent screen. The awe of all the elements of this three-piece performance came together in this moment. The music, composed by Armand Amar, transports Fallen into a folk fantasy. Revving and whirling sounds encourage the dancers to twist and spiral around themselves.

Slicing between the company’s older works was a sneak peak at Young Men, where Ivan Pérez has definitely stripped the dancers back to a raw, contemporary nature. Like a strict regiment the men create patterns, rippling across the stage in canon. Not wanting to give too much away about Pérez’s masterpiece, as you will just have to wait and see this display of fierce action and ninja athleticism for yourselves.

Michael Nunn and William Trevitt (co-founders & artistic directors of BalletBoyz) have developed a legacy that many male dancers would love to be a part. Although, it does mean having to dance half naked at pretty much any given opportunity.

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