Dance review: BalletBoyz: Life, Edinburgh

Most dance companies go out of their way to keep the gender balance evenly split, but by doing the opposite, the BalletBoyz have produced something intriguingly special. Ten men, no women, yet this is no testosterone-driven display of machismo. Instead, given the chance to exhibit the full spectrum of qualities that reside in us all, the male dancers are at once muscular, powerful, tender and graceful.

The BalletBoyz put on a show with ten men and no women
The BalletBoyz put on a show with ten men and no women

BalletBoyz: Life | King’s Theatre, Edinburgh | Rating ****

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This full package of physical and emotional sensibilities is given the perfect vehicle in Pontus Lidberg’s Rabbit. A name the Swedish choreographer didn’t chose superficially – the men really are dressed as rabbits, or at least their heads. Which sounds daft but is actually deeply moving.

Rolling on and off the stage under a curtain, the men shift allegiances. Sometimes only one bares his head, struggling to belong in a rabbit-filled world. Other times over half of them display their human frailty. This fluidity of character is matched by Lidberg’s choreography and the Górecki score he sets it to, with gentle partner-work, frenetic movement and the odd witty gesture all part of the mix.

Javier de Frutos is alive and well, but the central conceit of Fiction is his recent demise due to falling scenery. And so the scene is set for a darkly humorous voyage into the hitherto unknown world of the danced obituary. Voiced by Jim Carter, Derek Jacobi and Imelda Staunton, and danced with athletic gusto, this joyous piece finds the dancers working out their grief via a ballet barre. Jostling for space one minute, in perfect synch the next – just like life.