BalletBoyz creates a compelling and intriguing story through beautiful dance in Them/Us. Divided, as the title suggests, into two parts, each half explores the relationships between the six male dancers, culminating in the latter half focusing on a partnership portrayed in a moving duet.
Part one uses a large cuboid metal frame, which is flipped, moved and even climbed on deftly by the dancers. This creates pleasing visuals and excellent use of space, the 3D aspect of the frame almost making illusions as the dancers move with it. The frame is most effective when just one or two dance within it, with the remaining members of the company rotating it and swinging it across the stage. Also impressive are the moments where all six dancers are in unison, showcasing the wonderful talent and an incredible sense of collaboration.
The fact that the choreography of the first half is a collaborative effort sheds light on the fragmented style, and the only downfall (if it can be seen as one) is how hard it is to keep up with the changing movements and themes.
A major highlight of the whole piece is the climax of the first half. What has been trembling strings and syncopated bass swells into a heart-quickening percussion-filled score, bringing the six men to the centre to dance together. Their flowing movements are equally cut with sharp shapes and lines, using their bodies to create a perfectly synchronised collection of flurried dance on stage. Even in this synchronicity however are flashes of individual variation, standing out in a patternless way as men in couples or alone break away from the group at times. It seems to depict the struggle of interaction, as the dancers push and nudge each other into different positions, in control one moment and being forced to the floor in the next.
It’s hard to define the narrative and relationships, the changeability of their interactions leaving ambiguity between friends, lovers, or even competitors. It seems that while each of them seeks to depict struggle in some way, their characters are by no means copies of each other. In part two, after being introduced by canon movements with the group as a whole, two dancers take the stage in an intimate and poignant duet that seeks to portray a fraught relationship. The duet shows the effect contact has on one another, as each man relies on his partner to trigger and support various elegant lifts, rolls and spins. They portray strong emotion and evoke a sense of battling amidst adversity, appearing mentally exhausted and full of longing all while maintaining slick and professional choreography.
BalletBoyz: Them/Us plays at Underbelly, Bristo Square, McEwan Hall (Venue 302)
13:00 until the 15th August
Get tickets here
Image: George Piper