16 January 2015

Young Men by BalletBoyz at Sadler's Wells was exhilarating and exhausting

It's only a minor gripe but I'll start with it anyway. Sadler's Wells do nice posters for all their shows but they do not put them online for people like me to reuse. The only picture I could find with even the name of the show on it was in an email sent to me and this does not have the theatre name on it, let alone the performance dates.

Sadler's Wells also has a plain black safety curtain that is firmly down except for the performance so there was no point me taking the usual this-is-my-view photo. It would have hurt nobody to leave the curtain up at the end.

Other than those ever so minor gripes the evening was fantastic.

I went with some friends and we arranged to meet at the Banana Tree at 6pm because it was nearby and having eaten there once before I had always intended to go back one day. Somehow, despite all travelling independently from different places, we all arrived at much the same down and settled down to a good meal. Booking proved to be a good idea and the place was soon full with people waiting for a free table.

Mostly thanks to my friends, I had booked some really cheap seats (Second Circle A24 to A27, four Standard @ £22.00 each) which proved to be an inspired choice. I think we had some of the best seats in the house. That was because from that height we could see the full depth of the stage and the patterns the dancers made across it. From the Stalls, as shown below, the dancers at the front obscure those at the back and that is a real problem when those at the back are doing something very different, which in Young Men they did all the time.

Young Men was an exploration of war and the large number of young men killed, injured and damaged in war. It was told in six tableaux of about ten minutes each with a break for a bottle of Prosecco after four.

I went to see the BalletBoyz dance and had little expectations for the music so I was delighted to hear the repetitive beats made popular and familiar by Philip Glass. Actually Michael Nyman was closer to the mark and I was almost expecting to hear Memorial Requiem at one point. The composer was Keaton Henson, a name that was completely new to me and I am not much wiser having looked him up. All that really mattered was that this was the sort of music that I like and adding dancing to it just made it that much better.

The dancing was fairly typical BalletBoyz albeit by a new choreographer, Iván Pérez. There was lots of intricate movement as the dancers intertwined their bodies, the movement flowed quickly from one dancer to the next, there were several different things going on at the same time, a lot of the dancing was done on the ground and the eleven men worked in formations of various and changing sizes. It was exhilarating and exhausting to watch.

Another plus was that most of the music was played live by a small orchestra partially hidden behind a net at the back of the screen.

This was the most complete and satisfying performance that I have seen from the BalletBoyz. So much so that I am making plans to see it again. Soon.

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