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BalletBoyz Them/Us - London, March and June 2019


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The opening night of Them/Us at Sadlers Wells proved a short but stunning evening of contemporary dance from BalletBoyz. The company is dynamic, talented and unique in being all male. Artistic directors William Trevitt and Michael Nunn have handpicked 8 incredible dancers : in programme order, Sean Flanagan, Benjamin Knapper, Harry Price, Liam Riddick, Dominic Rocca, Matthew Sandiford, Bradley Waller and apprentice Joey Barton.

 

‘Them’ is a choreographic collaboration between Charlotte Pook, Nunn, Trevitt and the dancers. The dancers interact with each other and with a 3D rectangular steel frame from which they hang, lean on, enter and exit, and push round the stage. Dressed in garish-coloured 1970’s style shell suits , the dancers combine dance and gymnastic skills to great visual effect.

 

’Us’ is the stand out piece of the show. Choreographed by the genius that is Christopher Wheeldon, this work is BalletBoyz at their very best. The score by Keaton Henson is modern, synthetic mood music, very suited to the movement , which in typical BB style mixes contemporary dance with capoeira ( a dance/martial arts combo) . The initial group phase brought the dancers together in an amoebic shape -shifting mass, constantly changing and evolving like a shoal of fish or a murmuration of swallows. The second phase included solo, group and pair work , all beautifully brought together by these strong graceful men. The final duet , danced by Waller and Price, was originally created in 2017 as a stand alone short piece for ‘14 days’  . It reminded me of the original boys Nunn and Trevitt in Maliphant’s works like Torsion . Slow, controlled , ever -shifting holds and patterns with an emotional charge of love, sympathy, care and passion. 

A short but exceptionally compelling evening of dance.

(PS ever the gushing fan I took the opportunity of thanking William Trevitt as I happened to sit very nearby by chance)

 

Edited by Mandy Kent
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11 minutes ago, alison said:

Liam Riddick??!! :o 

Yes, why ? I hadnt seen him before but see that he won Best Male Dancer 2017 at the Critics Circle Awards. He was terrific but they were all terrific. 😃 

Edited by Mandy Kent
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Just an aside, but one of the things I love about Matthew Sandiford is the way his amazing dreadlocks move when he is dancing, emphasising his movements.

And perhaps irrelevant yet fascinating but Mr Trevitt is sporting long hair and a moustache, a la 1970's Peter Wyngarde look . 'On him it looks good' she said with a shrug ;)

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  • 1 month later...

I’ve just been to see the Balletboyz again tonight at the ArtsDepot , North Finchley, (the town where I grew up).

Being a smaller venue than Sadlers Wells meant I had a much closer view of the stage . I’ve already described the two pieces Them and Us above. In an evening of excellent choreography the stand out piece is the final duet in Us by Christopher Wheeldon. The perfect accord between Harry Price and Bradley Waller as they entwine around each other, lifting and balancing , is so very acute that one forgets to breathe. Sheer brilliance.

 

PS Bradley Waller is also a keen photographer and we were able to buy performance and rehearsal shots signed by him. I treated myself to a rehearsal print    which captures the companies unique style. 

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  • 1 month later...

THE BALLET BOYZ

Them/Us

Vaudeville Theatre, London

 

The Ballet Boyz were formed by two classically-trained ballet boys, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt. I must admit to not having seen too much of their work over the past 18 years of its existence, so I was looking forward to this programme.

 

Them/Us is definitely a game of two halves. For the Vaudeville Theatre run, each half is introduced by a video that shows interviews with the dancers and choreographer/s. This is very useful as each video sets the scene of what is to come.

 

We are told that Them was choreographed by the dancers as they went along, under the watchful eyes of Nunn and Trevitt and rehearsal director Charlotte Pook. With so many people involved, it was going to be very difficult for much clarity of narrative or theme to be apparent to the audience. The result was thus a disjointed piece, not quite knowing what it was or where it was going. The dancers came on and off the stage, did a few dance steps, then moved on to rolling a large metal cube frame around the stage. What followed was mostly gymnastics; jumping in and out of the cube, somersaulting over the bars, using the top bar as a perch from which to watch the proceedings below...until a few minutes from the end, there wasn't much dancing. When it did come, we finally got to see what these dancers are about. They are of course all good, and when they got going they and the set gave me a feel of the opening sequence of West Side Story (minus the genius of Robbins' choreography). So a rather frustrating piece in which the dancers weren't shown at their best (although Benjamin Knapper managed to make his presence felt in a very positive way); we got a taste of cool urban chic, but that was about it. Charlotte Harding's music was appropriate to the generally metallic feel of the whole thing.

 

When a real choreographer got hold of this talented group of boyz, the result was infinitely more satisfying and indeed very moving. Us was choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, one of the foremost choreographers working today. In the introductory video he described what a delight it was to work with these dancers, and said that he did have in mind a narrative, but he didn't want to be too explicit. He just explained that it was about two men in a relationship, and he didn't want it to be overly emoted or sexual. Us offered up some typically Wheeldon movements, such as the whole group moving as one at a rapid pace, something I first remember seeing in DGV and then reprised in Within The Golden Hour. I could feel the electric current running through the group, who were as one, but each dancer could separate and dance alone, then seamlessly come back together as a group. They lost layers of clothes as the piece moved along, perhaps to signify different moods and different stages of a relationship. These were the scene setters, building up to an incredibly moving and intense pdd by the two central men, alone on the stage, bare chested. Huge kudos here to Harry Price and Bradley Waller, who must have danced this many, many times, but still managed to display a depth of emotion that made it look like the first time. Interestingly, these two dancers are very similar physically, and look almost like mirror reflections of each other. Was there a bit of the Narcissus here? Finishing the ballet with this pdd, Wheeldon succeeds in making the audience think about what they had just seen. Was this about love? Loss in love? Joy and happiness in love? For me, it was all of the above.

 

The music for Us (written by Keaton Henson) builds up slowly to a much quicker climax, then morphs into a heartfelt piece for the two men, who interpreted every note with feeling. I liked it very much.

 

On the whole I enjoyed this double bill, but that was really thanks to the second piece. These men are all very good dancers, and I hope that next time I get more of a chance to see what they can do; one piece out of two wasn't enough to do justice to their talents.

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  • Jan McNulty changed the title to BalletBoyz Them/Us - London, March and June 2019

Bit late coming to this but thanks for the review Sim. I deliberated going (today tix were at one point doing a £15 offer) but decided with limited funds that I’d rather save that money for the ROH winter season. 

 

I had heard Us was supposed to be very good so I am sorry to miss it, but as with all good things I hope/imagine it will come back round again. 

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