Curve, Leicester.
Runs 1hrs 30m. One interval
to 16 March 2013
On tour to 15 April 2013
Review: Ian Spiby, Saturday 16 March

A thrilling celebration of male dance.
In their tenth year, Balletboyz have mounted two newly choreographed pieces: SERPENT by Liam Scarlett and FALLEN by Russell Maliphant, drawing their dancers from a wide range of backgrounds. As an all-male company they seek to break away from the traditional female-dominated ballet and instead establish a style which is robustly masculine, celebrating the male in a wide range of movement encounters.

The second piece, FALLEN, is in familiar Balletboyz territory, the dancers dressed in a version of urban street clothes: vests and tracksuit bottoms and the setting within the bare shell of the theatre so that it could be a warehouse, an underground car park or any other inner-city venue. To a vibrant and exciting music score (Armand Amar) their movement patterns appear to be drawn from sport: I noticed rugby, wrestling, tai chi, capoeira and ashtanga yoga but I’m sure there were lots more. Everything is executed in a series of breathtaking sequences with stunning technical feats and a precision of detail that ranks them with the best that modern dance has to offer.

The first piece, SERPENT, appears to be a move away from their usual fare. We were told at the door that if we left we could not be readmitted as the piece is very “intimate”. What that actually means in practice is that they dance with their tops off, wearing footless tights, something which in any other dance company would not even cause an eyebrow to be raised. What is perhaps unusual is the style of the choreography because in a series of pas de deux, Scarlett reinvents the form for two men dancing absolutely equally. So for example, after one lifts the other, the other lifts the one. The movement, accompanied by a Max Richter’s minimalist score is flowing and lyrical, to emphasize, in Scarlett’s own words, the “beauty, sensitivity, physicality and strength” of the male form. And all achieved without any libidinal subtext – an achievement in itself.

In an attempt to make the dance accessible to a non specialist audience, a short film is shown before each piece where the choreographers talk in general terms of what they are trying to achieve. I can see the point but for me the pieces spoke very clearly for themselves.

SERPENT. Choreography: Liam Scarlett, Music: Max Richter, Lighting Michael Hulls.
FALLEN. Choreography: Russell Maliphant, Music: Armand Amar, Lighting: Michael Hulls
Dancers: Taylor Benjamin, Andrea Carrucciu, Flavien Esmieu, Martyn Garside, Adam Kirkham, Jordan K Olpherts, Edward Pearce, Leon Poulton, Matthew Rees, Matthew Sandiford
Production Manager: Andrew Ellis, Technicians: Clare Louise Byrnes, Chris Tuffin, Artistic Directors: Michael Nunn & William Trevitt, Executive Director: Kerry Whelan, Assistant Producer: Tim Morris, Rehearsal Director: Cameron McMillan

2013-03-17 17:27:11

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