All growing up
Although they’ve always taken their work very seriously and their ability has never been in question, the BalletBoyz dedication to accessibility in the digital age has occasionally left them coming across a little superficially as a concept – a kind of 21st century version of 60s band The Monkees. The Talent 2013, however, is a superb double bill of newly commissioned works that better represents the growing maturity of the company’s 12 years of existence.
Securing the services of The Royal Ballet’s new Artist in Residence Liam Scarlett has proved a masterstroke. Serpent opens with all ten dancers stretched languorously across the stage wearing ‘nowt but tight flesh-coloured shorts, their arms raised like snakes in the sunrise. This is the first time Scarlett has worked with an all-male cast and he revels in showing the sensual beauty of the tautly-curved male body.
Nothing is rushed; lifts are cast with egg-shell deference and dance relationships are formed organically within the textual framework of Max Richter’s neo-baroque score. Scarlett’s marriage of choreography to the music is one of his great strengths and in Serpent they gel magnificently, even causing the audience to spontaneously applaud mid-performance.
Both of the night’s choreographers made great use of the dancers’ long, long lines. In Serpent Scarlett uses the elongation of limbs to create a harmonious beauty, Russell Maliphant, on the other hand, uses them to suggest dominance and power. Fallen has aggressive overtones, almost militaristic at times in the well-drilled precision of the ensemble work.
Set to Armand Amar’s thumping percussion Fallen’s opening tribal frenzy was a swirl of spherical patterns which, after an interlude of solos and tussling duets, gave way to an incredible array of intricately arranged throws and lifts. Great height was achieved with dancers stepping easily onto each others knees and shoulders, only for them to slide gracefully onto the backs and arms of others waiting. A breathtaking work.
Serpent and Fallen were well-honed, impressively danced and exhilarating to watch – there wasn’t a single cough to be heard from the audience all night. The Talent 2013 should turn anyone into a believer.
Tickets for the nationwide tour can be found on the the BalletBoyz website.