BWW Review: BALLETBOYZ THEM/US, Richmond Theatre
From the founding duo of ex-Royal Ballet dancers, Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt, Balleboyz has seen many variations and additions to the group. Always innovating and never predictable, the collective of male dancers is currently touring with their fantastic new production Them/Us, which seeks to explore the themes of 'otherness' and how we see ourselves in relation to others.
In an innovative change of direction for the group, Them is a ballet designed and choreographed by the dancers themselves. This brave and bold move pays off with a finely tuned and beautifully athletic display, centered around a cubic frame that acts as a gym, a stage, an enclosure and a climbing frame.
Dressed in an odd choice of shell suits in various garish shades, the company demonstrates the versatile and effortless dexterity and grace that they have become known for. The piece lacks definite narrative, but is made of a series of tableaux that vary in mood from playful to aggressive to buoyant.
Composer Charlotte Harding collaborated with the dancers to inspire the synergy between the musical composition and the movement on stage. Her string-based music is melodic and has a lot of punctuation to compliment the dancing. Much of the movement came from improvisation, but feels fluid and naturalistic.
Us is a soulful and richly elegant dance that started life as an eight-minute duet. Now extended to include six dancers, Christopher Wheeldon's choreography is exquisite, showing the strength of the company as a group, rather than as individuals.
The six dancers, clad in dark grey tailcoats and black trousers, move as a group, but are not bonded. The feeling is dark, electric, almost waiting for something to happen. The section concludes with the highlight of the show; the beautiful original duet, which remains the strongest and most emotional part of Us. There is a sinuous and strident sensuality about the dance, where the two bodies, now bare-chested, connect and intertwine with a strong sense of both purpose and poise.
Both dancers are incredibly expressive and use every part of their bodies, down to the ends of their little fingers, to express extraordinarily lithe and erotic movement. There is a tenderness that is almost unbearable to watch. Keaton Henson's extends his original score to create music that is intense, emotional and matches perfectly with the movement of the dancers.
Them/Us is a profound and beautiful show that showcases the talent of every dancer. There are no egos here, but a collective of brilliant and talent that puts every dancer centre stage.
Photo Credit: George Piper