BalletBoyz: ‘Them/Us’ review

Dance, Ballet
4 out of 5 stars
Balletboyz: Them/Us 2019
© George Piper

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

The Boyz storm the West End with an invigorating pairing of pieces

There’s some debate among the current crop of BalletBoyz about what they have created with ‘Them’, the 30-minute piece that opens this double bill – a really nice bolognese, a carbonara, or a pizza with many toppings. So we learn in the tongue-in-cheek short film the BalletBoyz co-creators Michael Nunn and William Trevitt have made to precede it for the all-male company’s West End debut.

Them is the first time the dancers have made their own work – becoming the chefs, not just the ingredients – and the Boyz show they have learnt a trick or two from the top-flight choreographers they have worked with previously. It’s a devised piece, made in tandem with Charlotte Harding’s string score, that feels loose, born of spontaneity and authentic. Sequences grow out of simple gestures – a handshake, for instance, leads to a string of tag-team duets, then to a coiling line of all six dancers holding hands. The imposing prop of a cube-shaped frame, flipped and turned repeatedly, provides a climbing frame and a space for thoughtful solos. The work has evolved since its premiere at Sadler’s Wells in March – and there’s a crackling, protean energy as the dancers stretch out into their own creation.

‘Us’, the second half of the evening, is a quite different affair. It started as a short duet by Christopher Wheeldon for a previous BalletBoyz show and has now been expanded. The new first half has all six dancers caught up in a regime where an undercurrent of aggression can be felt in their aligned movements. In this environment, Bradley Waller is physically stopped from making a deeper connection with any of the others – left alone, his solo of slumped resignation and beseeching lines etches out his sorrow and loneliness. Then, bare-chested and Adonis-like, Waller and Harry Price appear for the original duet – a heart-stoppingly tender coming together of two bodies that is both sensual and nurturing, as the pair use their strength as support, and lock eyes with a look of infinite trust. Combined with Keaton Henson’s lushly romantic score, it’s an achingly beautiful ode to love.

By: Siobhan Murphy

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