In a bold, virtually unheard-of risk, BalletBoyz’ artistic directors, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, asked their dancers to create Them, the first half of this new double-bill, rather than commission a choreographer. Such design by committee can lead to the absence of a strong central voice, yet Them feels like a conversation well worth listening in on.
Ballet Boyz: Them/Us, Edinburgh Festival Theatre *****
Based around a cuboid metal frame, the action has so many flavours, emotions and intents, there’s a definite sense that more than one hand helped the piece take shape.
Climbing on the bars, these strong, graceful performers take us into circus territory, then cluster together for moments of sharp balletic unison.
Along with the dancers, composer Charlotte Harding feels like a seventh choreographer, with every knee lock, head turn or glide of the arm perfectly synchronised to her music.
All of which is a pleasure to watch – especially gifted to us by these incredibly talented male dancers. But then Christopher Wheeldon comes along and shows us what a seasoned dance-maker can do.
To my eyes, Wheeldon is the finest choreographer on the planet and his newly extended piece, Us only confirms it. Exquisitely matched to Keaton Henson’s profoundly emotional score, each interaction feels fresh and unexpected, whether it’s during ensemble moments, the thought-provoking solo or deeply moving duet.
There’s a sense of drama in every step, a subtle narrative that never overplays its hand, allowing every fibre of your being to respond to what Wheeldon, Henson and the dancers give you. Sublime. - Kelly Apter