Music: Scott Walker, Joby Talbot, Keaton Henson, Charlotte Harding and Armand Amar
Choreography: Javier De Frutos, Ivan Perez, Christopher Wheeldon, Craig Revel Horwood and Russell Maliphant
Reviewer: Emma Pritchard
When it comes to ballet, the word you’d typically use to describe those involved is a troupe. But for the Balletboyz, the term band seems far more fitting. Why? Because here is a group of men, who not only clearly work together as a team – notably supporting and celebrating each other, almost caressing their individual moments in the spotlight – but who also share a great deal of trust. It’s this bond that is particularly tangible in their latest production Fourteen Days, which is, in essence, an exploration of balance and imbalance. It’s made up of four self-contained dances – or perhaps exercises is the better description – created by some of the industry’s most notable composers and choreographers, including the award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and Strictly Come Dancing‘s Craig Revel Horwood.
As you’d come to expect from this collaborative group, formed in 2000 by The Royal Ballet Company leading dancers Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, the work is experimental, raw and challenging. Even more so this time, perhaps, because the four pieces showcased in Fourteen Days were produced in just that – fourteen days. From the musical scores to the choreographed routines to the staging and costumes, nothing took more than two weeks to create. The results are, at times, an acquired taste but thought-provoking, nonetheless.
The show opens with Javier De Frutos’ The Title is in the Text, an unsettling and other-worldly medley of slithering bodies trying to gain control of an over-size seesaw. There’s an atmosphere of unrest, discord– magnified by Scott Walker’s musical accompaniment – but, although chaotic and confusing at times, there is something strangely compelling in the end result. Next is Human Animal, created by choreographer Ivan Perez and composer Joby Talbot. It places the dancers in an almost follow-the-leader-style set-up, prancing around the circumference of the stage like horses, as led by the lithe-limbed and confidently poised Edward Pearce. Yet, despite its apparent simplicity, it is clear that the sequence’s subtle changes in rhythm and movement require a surprising level of balance and control. The highlight of this quartet, though, is Us; Christopher Wheeldon and Keaton Henson’s emotionally charged and haunting duet between dancers Harry Price and Marc Galvez. The well-matched pair are mesmerising to watch, and through seemingly effortless expression, precision and form, steal the show. Finally, comes Revel Horwood’s The Indicator Line, a toe-stomping, Lord of the Dance-esque display that puts end to Fourteen Days with an energetic bang.
But the show doesn’t end there. Fallen, the acclaimed work that was created for the company by Russell Maliphant in 2013, is revisited in the second half – and what a joy it is to watch. As with Wheeldon’s Us, here is a piece that truly showcases the strength and skill of these dancers. There are intricate sequences of lifts, rolls and balances, intense portrayals of story and feeling, and the magic of making a demanding art form feel open and attainable. Again, it is Price and Galvez who give lasting performances, alongside Jordan Robson but it would be wrong to forget the rest of the team: Bradley Walker, Matthew Rees, Flavien Esmieu, Simone Donati, Edward Pearce and Matthew Sandiford, plus Sean Flanagan and Edd Arnold, for whom 2017 marks their Balletboyz debut.
Touring nationwide | Image: Contributed