Review Fourteen Days, Balletboyz, Exeter Northcott, by Hannah Goslin

 

(5 / 5)

 

Balletboyz have been a favourite of mine since my university days. Always heading to the Taliesin in Swansea, this company have never struggled to surprise me with their brilliance.

Today was of no exception.

Looking in the crowd the audience was of a mixture – dance enthusiasts like myself, an older generation who may or may not have seen them before and know their unique and modern take on dance and a huge amount of boys and young men. Beating the stereotype of ballet and dance being for girls, these masculine role models are obviously very influential.

Fourteen days comprises of 4 short pieces followed by a longer finale. As the programme states, these dances are created by a host of different choreographers, including Strictly Come Dancing’s, Craig Revel Horwood and all feature an underlying theme of balance and imbalance.

“The Title is in the Text” is our first piece by choreographer, Javier De Frutos and really draws on the theme. Set around a see saw, the dancers balance, propel and manoeuvre around it creating beautiful shapes and a sort of child-like playtime with each other . It’s simplistic, yet powerful and with elements of subtle humour with the interaction and response between them. Dressed in jumpsuits, firstly it feels mechanic and as if they are workers but the play in the dance makes them feel more childlike.

“Human Animals” by Iván Pérez changed the dynamic completely. The floral shirts with legs bare for all muscles to be seen makes this animalistic – the routine gentle, light and almost mimicking deer jumping in a forest as one. It’s repetitive but easy and lovely to watch.

To me, “Us” by Christopher Wheeldon was the highlight of the show. With only two dancers, the performance is intimate, a consistent flow and full of emotion. Along with the music by Keaton Henson, this very minimalist piece but full of vigour and emotional power resonated personally with me, leaving me in tears at the beauty of love and conflict.

“The Indicator Line” by TV star Craig Revel Horwood is in itself a surprise.  There is a Soviet element to the narrative and comes across as very dictator-like but with bells on. Mostly I would expect something musical theatre based from him and that’s a little of what we get but it’s strong, powerful and full of momentum. The dancers also show a great talent in their trade when ballet and contemporary turns to tap. However there’s anger in the tap -no Fred Astaire here, this tap dancing means war.

And finally, “Fallen”by Russell Maliphant – a rebirth from it’s debut in 2013. Until I read that fact, there was something familiar about the piece but nothing less enjoyable. The whole ensemble is involved and there is always something to watch. Different scenes broadcast from different areas; crescendos come and go and levels change from all to duo to solo and back again. This piece has a fluidity to it, not just in dance but in its expression, leaving you struggling to take your eyes away.

What I love about Balletboyz is their ability to be about the dance. Yes the odd bit of staging and changing of lights adds to their composition but mostly the stage is naked, stripped bare of trickery leaving us engaged with the dancers who make every element look effortless and with sheer beauty.

Hannah Goslin

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