Fourteen Days from BalletBoyz is a joyous five-piece programme of macho bravura
- Lucy Ribchester
- 8 November 2017
BalletBoyz return with four new works by Javier de Frutos, Craig Revel Horwood, Iván Pérez and Christopher Wheeldon
There's a symmetry to the bookending of BalletBoyz's five-piece programme, with Javier De Frutos' The Title is in the Text and Russell Maliphant's Fallen. Both are the full-cast firecrackers of the evening, intricate in their twisting, tangling ensembles, restless and busy and playing macho games with balance.
In De Frutos' piece a giant see-saw is the centrepiece: up and down the cast leap, shuffle, fold into one another like paper dolls in their pristine boiler suits, puppeting each other's bodies into slow lifts. It's all cooperation, allowing them to form daring and impossible shapes, set to the chaotic and eclectic sampling of Scott Walker's choral-rap-electro score. In Maliphant's Fallen the cast is dressed military-casual, and begins loping low in tight Celtic rings. They hurl themselves into drills, passing members across each other's bodies. At one point, a man is tipped stiffly upside down like a flagpole, at other times they pair off into intense duets. Armand Amar's suspenseful score gives a cinematic drama to the escalating heat of the dance, while splashes of metallic lighting create strange turquoise and green glows against the back wall of the bare stage.
Bold and challenging both pieces may be, but it is the treats in the centre of the programme that are the most beguiling. Christopher Wheeldon's duet Us is pure sensuality, executed flawlessly by its two dancers. To Keaton Henson's elegiac violin-led music, they pull each other into slow turns, roll around one other, connected only by the tops of their heads, tip each other into a back and forth see-saw, echoing De Frutos' piece. Performing bare-chested in loose black trousers, there is enough cleanness in the choreography to allow them their own private expression.
Craig Revel Horwood's The Indicator Line brings kitsch showtime into a territory altogether more sinister – Broadway via David Lynch. Spiked through with spears of art deco lighting, it looks like his cast, in their braces and pink shirts, is dressed for a day at the coal mine. There's a New York feel to the chorus line stomps and twirls, cut with notes of Irish dance. But then a red-coated soldier appears in the midst, sparking fights, cutting dancers down with a single punch or kick. Charlotte Harding's score underpins the unsettling tone with rising drama.
Meanwhile Iván Pérez charms us silly with Human Animal. It starts with one dancer walking in circles, every few beats pausing to elegantly paw the ground. Soon there's a pack of them, or a herd, continuing this looping motif while Joby Talbot's score channels Arabic beats, eerie top notes and erratic clockwork loops. With their bare legs and bright shirts, they could be flamingos on parade, or fine horses, or perhaps simply men on a stage entertaining us.
Reviewed at Edinburgh Festival Theatre. BalletBoyz: Fourteen is touring the UK until Sat 2 Dec.