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Them/Us by BalletBoyz

by Emily Healey-Lynham

The BalletBoyz have swap their usual home at Sadler’s Wells for a limited West End season. Them/Us at the Vaudeville Theatre will run to 15th June 2019. A collaboration between the company’s own dancers and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, both pieces are set to original scores and ask where we see ourselves in relation to the ‘other’.

The lights in the auditorium go down and we were greeted with a video sequence showing the Boyz preparing and telling us what it was like to collaborate with others. They then open with “Them” choreographed by BalletBoyz in collaboration with Charlotte Pool and Michael Nunn and William Trevitt. Here the Boyz use a rectangle frame to clever and powerful interpretation to enhance the senses and go beyond the normal limits of human perception.

The music composed by Charlotte Harding and lighting by Andrew Ellis, Nunn and Trevitt For “Them” brings classic violins and cellos and snazzy sequences of spotlights on the dancers and the cube as the storytelling takes place.

Each dancer comes on to the minimalistic stage setting wearing unexpectedly shell suits! Each Boy has their own unique style but together they paint the picture of “Them”.

In “Us” choreography is by Christopher Wheeldon and music composed by Keaton Henson. Here we see a snapshot of a fascinating relationship. 

The original Us was a duet created by Wheeldon last year for BalletBoyz Fourteen Days show. This time, Wheeldon was asked to enlarge it, creating a work for the full company of six with the brief, what happened before those two people came together in such an intense, overwhelming duet?

The six men come onto a dimly lit stage (lighting by Andrew Ellis together with the company Artistic Directors Michael Nunn and William Trevitt). They wear black pants and light grey linen tailcoats. Their movements are edgy, uneasy. They respond to each other, not with sympathy but almost compulsively. This is a group, but not of friends; there is something feral about their interactions, either when all together or when they break up into smaller units.

At certain points they bounce on the balls of their feet, as if preparing to launch a run at something or even away from something. Then one man is left alone: a solo of anguish, loneliness and yearning. And this leads us to the peak of the evening: that duet.

This is a piece of exquisite physical joinery and emotional potency. Amidst enfolding lines, climactic extensions and lifts are moments of real tenderness like the gentle interiority and intimacy of the couple’s touching wrists. This is a rare, precious dance.

Using an intricate interpretation of a complicated twisted labyrinth and sinuous body language which delights the senses this 1hr 20 minute ballet show is a real treat for ballet fans and great to see it on the West End. 

On till 15th June 2019. See online for details.

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