25 January 2013

BalletBoyz at Richmond Theatre

My mission to see how dance is certainly helped when it comes to a local theatre. This time it was the BalletBoyz who made my life easy by popping up at the Richmond Theatre.

Life was made even easier by friends finding out about the event first and booking the tickets.

The only trouble came from the logistics as I was working in Cardiff that day. A prompt (i.e. early) exist got me back to Richmond at 6:45 and that gave me just enough time for a pint of Winter Warmer and a small metal bucket of chunky chips in the Orange Tree pub. One day a pub will decide not to serve chips in a metal bucket and we will all be shocked.

Watered and slightly fed I took my seat in Row E of the stalls.

First up was Liam Scarlett’s SERPENT, a study of unison and virtuosity featuring a  score by Max Richter and stunning lighting from Michael Hulls.

It opens with a brief video in which Liam explains what he was trying to do with the work and we saw some of the rehearsals in progress.

The BalletBoyz were dressed in tight almost skin coloured briefs and nothing else.

Despite the unorthodox start and dress what followed was fairly traditional ballet. At least the individual moves were recognisable though clearly the over all effect was somewhat different from the usual with eight men and no women.

It was a very active piece with dancers constantly exiting and entrancing. This meant that the number on the stage varied constantly and that led to us having dances with one, two, six and eight dancers. The moves and combinations were pretty enough but it failed to go anywhere and felt a little light because of that.

After the break we had Russell Maliphant's FALLEN, a "display of grace and power" featuring a score by French cinema composer Armand Amar.

This is what I had come to see.

The dancers were dressed more normally in something approaching Army fatigues but the dancing was very modern. In particular greater use was made of the vertical space, as this picture illustrates, with lots of climbing, lifting, tumbling and rolling.

The shapes made were also more modern than in the first piece. Again the picture has an example of this with the bent arms of the man at the back in the centre.

I felt that this piece was more varied in pace and emotion too. There was a slow tender part with just two dancers and the performance built to am amazing climax with all the dancers on stage moving, climbing and throwing. They were behaving like a single well-oiled machine. This was a masterpiece of choreography with everybody having to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time otherwise the machine would have broken down and one of the thrown dancers would not have been caught.

The icing on the impressive cake was swapping tweets with Russell Maliphant afterwards to let him know personally how much I liked the show.

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