- Lucy Ribchester
- 2 March 2020
BalletBoyz's 20th anniversary show hits the mark with new double bill
Deluxe is a word more usually associated with chocolate or spa experiences than dance, but if what it stands for is unparalleled quality then BalletBoyz's double bill, celebrating the company's 20th anniversary, hits its luxury mark. The Boyz have chosen two very different choreographers to put to the test their fine-tuned skills, and there isn't a single second where the focus, fluidity or energy slips.
Maxine Doyle of theatre collective Punchdrunk has collaborated with composer Cassie Kinoshi to create Bradley 4:18, a piece that is part-parody, part paeon to modern masculinity. It's preluded by a playful, jazz-scored video of the troupe in white boiler suits, choreographed by Sarah Golding in a similar tone – a sort of Nasa-style chorus line, swooping around with helicopter arms, lining up and blasting apart.
When Doyle's piece begins the freeform jazz continues but the stage is dark except for a single, skewed rectangle of neon light. Individual dancers solo dressed in hip-drab work suits, their movements a hybrid of plasticine-limbed awkwardness and carefree abandon. There's a neurotic monologue about soya milk, a minuet of muscular feinting and posturing, and a sensual, tender duet. All performed with panache it says just enough to be thought-provoking without ever losing its entertaining intrigue.
Shanghai-based choreographer Xie Xin is making her UK debut with the company, and in another introductory video, she talks about the challenges of creating her piece, Ripple. It's a rare lifting of the veil on the choreographic process which works in harmony with the live performance, showing the creative struggle behind what looks for all the world like an effortless performance.
Ripple begins hauntingly, with one man held by the head, pushed gently between two others like a pendulum. The introduction of flow – harmonised by Jiang Shao-feng's score of sonar undertones from which jerky, looped rhythms emerge – becomes the anchor to the piece, never letting up, though changing tempo from swift to wild to mesmerizingly light and slow.
Leaves, water and wind all come to mind and the focus of the dancers is infectious, giving the whole piece a hypnotising spiritual quality. Xin says in her introduction that it was a challenge for her to choreograph an all-male group, because of the energy dynamic, but in Ripple she has created the illusion of perfect balance.
Reviewed at Theatre Royal, Glasgow.