Us, the piece which constitutes the second half of this show is choreographed by Royal Ballet artistic associate Christopher Wheeldon and is unmissable contemporary dance.
From the outset, the ensemble section is thrilling in its dynamism using repetition, pirouettes and intricate footwork. Designed by Katherine Watt the costumes of oversized grey tailcoats complement the movement dynamics perfectly.
There’s a short lapse in energy or perhaps it’s just audience resistance as the compelling group dynamism moves into a floor level solo of small movements. But the wonderful, mostly string music composed by Keaton Henson is rich and lyrical and sweeps you into the extreme beauty of a stripped down duet on stage. Ephemeral movement making moments you want to keep, to remember. Combined with Henson’s music the duet is sublime.
The first half of the show, a thirty-minute piece choreographed by the dancers is titled Them. It’s not boring because Balletboyz are fabulous dancers and for this reason, it’s enough to watch but the work itself feels shallow. It’s hard to work out what the point is except as a virtuoso display. The cube doesn’t add much either. Andrew Ellis, the lighting designer contributes occasional intense scenes of colour which are beautiful. The music composed by Charlotte Harding provides necessary substance to the work as it sweeps from gorgeous strings to strings with a driving beat which accompany the best section of dance, a virtuoso solo by dancer, Benjamin Knapper. Them has a running time of only 30 minutes which is just about right, not overlong.
Notwithstanding the limitations of Them the second half of the show, Us, after the interval is so satisfying you leave elated, amazed all over again by the impact of great contemporary dance when it happens in front of you again.
Review by Marian Kennedy
Them/Us is an innovative double bill and celebrates a brand new collaboration from the company’s own critically acclaimed dancers and the Tony and Olivier Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. The pieces are both set to original scores by world-class composers and ask where we see ourselves in relation to the ‘other’.
Them, the first half of the show, is created through a unique, collaborative choreographic process marking the first ever production in the company’s 19-year history to be created solely by BalletBoyz’ own in-house talent. Set and developed in tandem to music by composer Charlotte Harding, Them explores the individuality and the versatility of movement which the company is renowned for.
Tony and Olivier Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon concludes the programme with Us, exploring human connections and culminating in an expanded version of the tender duet from Fourteen Days which premiered in 2017 to wide critical and public acclaim. With an extended score by cult singer/songwriter, Keaton Henson, Christopher Wheeldon develops this new work which explores human connections and the possibilities of before, during and after.
The current BalletBoyz company includes: Sean Flanagan, Benjamin Knapper, Harry Price, Liam Riddick, Dominic Rocca, Matthew Sandiford and Bradley Waller.
The performance has a running time of one hour twenty minutes including an interval.
BalletBoyz — Them/Us
5 – 9 March 2019
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R