Sadler’s Wells, London
April 26, 2018
In 2017, the BalletBoyz presented four pieces, each made in just fourteen days. In this reincarnation of that Fourteen Days programme, three return alongside Russell Maliphant’s Fallen, made in 2013. It was an evening of diverse approaches and styles.
A melodramatic soundscape fills the auditorium for Javier De Frutos’ The Title is in the Text. Dressed in white boiler suits and baseball shoes, the ten BalletBoyz start as they mean to go on, the diversity of the dancers reflected in the athletic and aesthetic movement qualities. The work is silky and elongated, focused around a giant seesaw that fills the stage and provides the catalyst for the choreography. The smooth qualities of the movement are juxtaposed with the incessant score, the combination highlighting the tranquil, controlled dance that sees the cast working as one, counter-balancing the seesaw in calculating ways. The serenity and flow is broken occasionally by the shifting music. What it all means is unclear but when the dance does pause, we yearn for more and long for the intrigue to continue.
A hugely captivating watch, The Title is in the Text is full of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moments. It is slick and thought-provoking in equal measure. In a huge serving of comic relief, it closes on two dancers enjoying the seesaw simply as it is, an object to have fun with.
Human Animal by Iván Pérez sees the dancers lose their trousers; literally. Joining the dancers on stage is a large orchestra, but all attention is on the legs of the performers. In a circular formation, there was complete unison as the six pairs of legs stroked and flicked their way around the stage (with the odd whack of a leg up to the ear), the dancers winking at the audience along the way. The occasional minor key within the score prevents the piece from becoming too jolly, as does transferring out of the circular formation. When it doesn’t fly around the floor, the movement is reminiscent of the centre prances of Martha Graham’s technique. The more eagle-eyed might have been able to pounce on any mistakes, but there were none as again, the dancers showed their versatility, strength and precision.
Christopher Wheeldon’s Us is a sensitive and sensual duet full of long, languid movements, here danced by Edward Pearce and Bradley Waller. Among the strongest of the company, they gave a solemn yet sophisticated performance. It was a demonstration of pure dance as they worked as one. There are no bells or whistles, just emotion where it matters, a part of dance that sometimes gets lost amongst the new and the brash. A deserved standing ovation from some resulted.
Closing the programme, Russell Maliphant’s Fallen saw the flats flown out and a pared back stage. Gone too was the orchestra, in its place a pounding drumming that was intense and dramatic. Typically Maliphant, it’s a dance of seamless and slick movement that fuses raw contemporary with the grace and clean lines of classical ballet, resulting in expansive moves and a refreshing take on the modern movement vocabulary. The dancers use each other as a sort of climbing apparatus and a means to balance out their mountaineering feats. The synchronicity and differing duets heightens the drama. The piece is packed full of content and hugely inspiring to watch.
Despite the only fourteen days of the programme’s title that three of the choreographers had to build their work, each piece is hugely fulfilling. It was a very enjoyable and varied evening that left the audience wanting more.