Undaunted, BalletBoyz directors Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, who have a prolific sideline in film-making, made the programme available through an online stream. However, nothing can make up for the thrill we’ve come to expect of BalletBoyz live on stage, and it’s good to be able to report that the new cohort of this small all-male company more than live up to the expectations generated by their predecessors.
Deluxe marks a departure from previous BalletBoyz programmes, in that it’s made up of two works choreographed by women, a new experience for both dancers and choreographers.
The first piece, Ripple, comes from the Shanghai-based choreographer Xie Xin; and in a short film screened before the performance she spoke of how challenging it had been to deal exclusively with male energy, when she’s used to working with both men and women balancing their respective, very different, energies.
Ripple builds on ancestral Chinese culture, its concepts skilfully blended with contemporary dance and a hint of martial arts. It’s an ever-flowing, work, where the dancers use deep plié and soft arms in a push and pull of fluid connection, lulled by composer Jing Shaofeng’s dreamy and very organic score.
BalletVoyz in Ripple, Deluxe. Photo: George Piper
It’s fascinating how Xie Xin was able to soften and tone down the very male energy of these eight dancers and how the new BalletBoyz make the work very much their own, bearing in mind it was created in close collaboration with the pre-Covid company, now sadly disbanded.
If Ripple represents emotion as the soft concentric waves of a pebble plunging into water, the second piece in the programme, Bradley 4:18 (pictured top) is something else entirely.
Created by Maxine Doyle, best known for her work with the experimental theatre company Punchdrunk, Bradley 4:18 could be subtitled ‘Masculinities in Question.’ Set at 4:18am when the generic Bradley returns home after a night on the tiles, this is a testosterone-fuelled piece, where every dancer represents one aspect of the Western male, with his sense of entitlement, his vulnerabilities, his fears and deep complexity. Cassie Jinoshi’s stunning, very jazzy score was composed in the studio even as the choreography was taking shape.
Moody lighting tinges the stage blue. The choreography is jerky, full of barely contained violence addressed mostly at themselves. Some of the dancers speak directly to the audience, in frantic little rants that are at once funny and poignant.
When they spoke to Culture Whisper just before lockdown, Trevitt and Nunn said that one of the big challenges this show presented to the dancers was how to use a short 20-minute interval to completely shift their approach from the softness of Ripple to the urban grittiness of Bradley 4:18.
It’s a challenge these dancers meet head on, showing their physical and mental versatility. Yes, BalletBoyz are in business and we’re all the richer for it.
|What||BalletBoyz Deluxe 2022 review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
24 Mar 22 – 26 Mar 22, 19:30 Sat mat at 14:30 Dur.: 1 hour 30 mins inc one interval
|Price||£15-£55 (+booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book|