BalletDanceLatitude FestivalReview

Latitude Festival 2017 – Balletboyz: Life

Choreographers: Pontus Lidberg and Javier de Frutos
Reviewer: Nicole Evans

Sadler’s Wells have certainly come up trumps with repeating their well-known full schedule of dance performances and Friday evening brings the turn of all-male dance group, Balletboyz, to peddle and prance their wares on The Waterfront stage. With the festival now in full swing and music ringing out from the many stages around us, they have their work cut out to avoid the distraction and keep the crowd’s attentions for the last stop on the tour of their two-part performance, Life.


Beginning with Rabbits, an oddly unmasculine routine choreographed by Pontus Lidberg, the dancers enter the stage dressed in suit trousers and waistcoats, with all bar one donning a large fluffy rabbit head…

The surreal nature of this piece doesn’t stop there. A solo start from the lead male (as opposed to the lead bunny) leads to the enticement of the rabbits to join the fun and an enjoyably nonsensical blend of contemporary dance with classical notes ensues; akin to some of the more obscure Disney scenes at times. The slow-paced and disjointed nature of movement and song makes it hard to follow for the most part, however, the company’s interpretation of the music and perfectly synced movement throughout ensures it remains a joy to witness.

The spatial awareness and fluidity of the dancers as they move between each other, particularly as they momentarily up the pace, is quite something and the sense of character each performer adopts makes us see beyond the surreal and the unusual and really believe in what we are seeing.

After a brief interval for a costume change, the dancers return to the stage – which is now set up with a sturdy ballet bar of sorts- for the second piece of the production, Fiction.

A choreographic work of Javier de Frutos, it tells the story of an all-male dance company learning of the death of their choreographer… Javier de Frutos

Mostly set to the sounds of a narration of de Frutos’ fictional obituary, the dancers literally translate the words into movement in between break outs of turbulent, friction-laden, dance offs around the metal bar.

With gymnastic-esque technicalities on display, the strength shown is staggering. The dancers weave under and over the bar, and each other, in perfect synchronicity and the effects, particularly when the bar is turned to face the side of the stage, are outstandingly beautiful.

The lack of in-depth knowledge in the subject matter and the occasional feeling of not having the slightest clue what message the performance is trying to get across completely pales into insignificance as the dancers’ breathtaking feats and stunning abilities whisk our minds away to a wonderful place.

Loosely exploring the themes of life and death, the pieces are very different in both subject, style and choreography but somehow end up increasingly complementing one another as post-performance reflection sets in.

A mesmerising performance that leaves us wanting to see much much more.

Reviewed on 14 July 2017 | Image: Hugo Glendinning

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