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Review: BalletBoyz, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 13, 2014

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If you think ballet means tutus then think again. Balletboyz production, The Talent, at The Everyman on Wednesday night was about as far from a tutu as it's possible to get.

Indeed for the first half the performance saw the company of ten young male dancers performing near-naked. This was ballet pared down to its basics; beautiful bodies, expressive shapes and sculptural form. With no set or costumes, only imaginative use of lighting and a score by Max Richter which built up emotion in meditative layers, this was ballet without a 'story' allowing the audience to create its own narrative.

The set opened with just a raised hand dancing in a spotlight taking on a life of its own.

The first half saw a lyrical organic piece, Serpent, which featured ensemble pieces but also sensual duets where dancers explored the space between their own bodies.

It struck me that Ballet Boyz is a celebration of male physique and artistry in a way that I can't imagine a female equivalent. Ballet requires its female dancers to meet exclusive physical criteria, but for these young male dancers it seemed more physically natural and a joyful medium.

The young dancers were both athletes and artists, at times they defied gravity, particularly in the second act when they took it in turns to momentarily hold their bodies perfectly still at seemingly impossible angles, before falling into their comrades' arms.

Indeed this second act, Fallen with percussive music by Armand Mar and choreographed by Russell Maliphant was a more energetic and physical piece, using all ten dancers for almost the entire set.

With its exploration of conflict and comradeship and repeated fallen bodies I wondered if the lost generation of the First World War were the inspiration for this piece. Again though, like Serpent, the audience was granted the freedom to enter an imaginative world and be transported to another place.

On a stormy night this was a welcome journey and it was little wonder that Ballet Boyz at the Everyman was a sell out.

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