Published 4 Feb 2011: Richmond & Twickenham Times
Making dance accessible is the driving force behind Michael Nunn and William Trevitt’s latest BalletBoyz project. Take an open audition, choose 9 young male dancers of different backgrounds and experience, give them a thorough classical and contemporary training et voila! the result is a terrifically talented gang of dancers.
First up in this Mixed Bill was Russell Maliphant’s handsomely fluent ‘Torsion’, originally created as a duet for Nunn and Trevitt but now reworked for 6 dancers. The piece has a smooth, flowing texture, requiring from the performers something best described as gentle power. There were excellent individual moments too such as when they were gun-slinging their partners from their hips and also one dancer’s extraordinary circuit of the stage on his knees in a suggestion of a succession of classical grand jetés.
The acoustic folk music of local lad Keaton Henson may seem an unlikely choice for modern dance but it worked perfectly for the next work, Paul Roberts’ ‘Alpha’. Unhurried and unforced movement coupled with superb timing brought out the best in the dancers and the Neil Young-like soundtrack. The final section where the dancers were carried high above head-height (reminiscent of Kenneth MacMillan’s ‘Requiem’) and then hurled themselves at each other and into the air was tremendously exciting.
Ironically for an all-male company, after the restrained beauty of the previous pieces, the aggressive, macho male posturing of Jarek Cemerek’s new work ‘Void’ was the least successful of the evening. After a promising filmed prologue the gritty urban setting never really convinced. Most of what followed amounted to an extended gangland fight but the jeans and hoodies were just a little too neat, clean and precisely tailored to convey any authentic atmosphere of the ‘streets’ and the choreography was too stylised to create any genuine sense of menace. In fact ‘Void’ only really struck any momentum once the fighting had stopped and the whole company started strutting their stuff in unison, accompanied by some particularly effective lighting from Andrew Ellis.
Hats off then to Nunn and Trevitt for creating the opportunity for these young men to develop their abilities and show them on the national stage. But the final word must go to the dancers themselves; they were terrific, full of energy and charisma and it was great to see them revelling in the deserved ovation at the final curtain. These boys really have the Talent.