Reviewed – 3rd June 2019
“has flashes of brilliance but fails to completely astound”
Transferring from Sadler’s Well Theatre, this engaging and emotionally profound double bill makes innovative use its talented ensemble. Not only dancers, these men (boyz?) have together devised the opening half (‘Them’), whilst the post-interval ‘Us’ showcases the work of award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. The result is a slight and uneven evening of dance that has flashes of brilliance but fails to completely astound.
Short videos act as a prelude to each section and give an interesting glimpse in the rehearsal room. For me, these reflect nicely the attitude of BalletBoyz as a company, seeking to attract new talent and inviting audience members old and young to find their own way into a dance studio. For ‘Them’, the opening piece, the fun and friendly atmosphere of the video never quite makes it on stage. Despite skilfully utilising strength and balance to create some pretty shapes on a hollow cuboid structure that is both jungle gym and cage, the piece has neither the witty self-awareness of a show like ‘Boys’, nor the emotional weight of Wheeldon’s later choreography.
Benjamin Knapper’s nifty footwork and exuberant hip swings were by far the standout moment of ‘Them’, and Charlotte Harding’s string and percussion score, sounding like a modern take on the ‘Psycho’ soundtrack, at times engages more than the bodies on stage. Wheeldon’s ‘Us’ started as a duet exploring a loving relationship between two men, and acts as the show’s finale. This stirring work, displaying both strength and caress, shifting weight and rippling, semi-clad bodies, ends the night on a high. Wheeldon’s work feels a little more complete in comparison to ‘Them’, but the ensemble work that precedes the duet doesn’t really add much to an already touching and visible story. Keaton Henson’s Hans-Zimmer-esque score matches the movement without being too overbearing.
Despite the pleasantries though, this show lacks surprise, daring and risk. Physically, the dancers are precise and in perfect sync with each other. The overall result though is a string of nice moments, but none that truly take your breath away.
Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich
Photography by George Piper
Vaudeville Theatre until 15th June
Previously reviewed at this venue: