Balletboyz: The Talent @ Artsdepot, London

directed by
Michael Nunn and William Trevitt
After an open audition last year, the Balletboyz – thats Michael Nunn and William Trevitt have put together eight male dancers to present their new show, confidently-titled The Talent, like a second generation Balletboyz, as the two focus more behind the scenes and nurturing up-and-coming talent than performing. (Though fear not, the original duo will return to the stage next year.)

It feels gloriously old-fashioned, like a martial arts master passing on his secrets to an apprentice, and theres something very endearing about that.
But one thing is for sure, these guys Corey, Joss, Kai, Davin, Anthony, Leon, Matt and Jess are fully-fledged Balletboyz now and theres a certain expectation that comes with it.

The passing the torch idea is most immediate in Torsion, a piece created for the original Balletboyz by Russell Maliphant in 2002. The dancers first learned the work from Nunn and Trevitt, and were then packed off to rehearse with Maliphant himself.

Just as Torsion mark one explores Nunn and Trevitts friendship, this reworked version continues the theme of male bond, and the dancers display the same gracefulness and soft lines alongside the strength required to perform Maliphants challenging, slow-motion lifts.

Whereas the original version saw the duo travel into a series of lifts and balances, having eight dancers in this revamp creates an even more interesting dynamic, as couples constantly enter and exit the stage.

Meanwhile, in an original work created for the new generation Balletboyz, and no doubt in a very different approach, is commercial choreographer Paul Roberts Alpha. The piece, in a paradox of the title, is balletic and gentle, with plenty of dvelopps and arabesques. The choreography has a beauty to it thats almost feminine and perhaps a tiny hint suggestive at times but, performed by these dancers, it retains a certain elegance and subtlety.

A theme of male relationships is once again evident, climaxing in the final section where, huddled together, the dancers lift one high up, who then rolls along as the group moves across the stage as a pack. It looked fantastic and highlighted the support and bond between this group of young men, made more mesmerising against the sweet, folksy music of Keaton Henson.

In a direct contrast to the lyrical style of Alpha is the opening piece, B-Banned, Freddie Opoku-Addaies pop culture-laden, hip hop-inspired piece for the boys. In terms of choreography, B-Banned is the weakest of the three; its more a series of short sequences allowing each dancer to show off. However, thematically its fascinating to watch, as the work is tailored to the boys they have more to play with and can interpret it to demonstrate their individuality.

One running motif (and recurring joke) is the ‘thirty-eight’ a sequence of boyband moves that cheekily acknowledge the inevitable comparisons. The competition between the dancers to pull off the best ‘thirty-eight’ where the losers had to hold an upside-down freeze and have their bottoms slapped by the winner had the audience in hysterics and the young girls in the audience (of which there were many) in fits of giggles as they decided among themselves who their favourites were.

And B-Banned really allows you a glimpse of what they are like as people, not abstract dancers or hidden behind a faade of make-up and costumes in more narrative-based dances. So we have ‘characters’ such as the cocky Kai, mothers’ favourite Leon, the shy and retiring Anthony and ladies’ man Davin, messing about together and singing their hearts out to Take That.

And this is the core of the Balletboyz brand. We watch Nunn and Trevitt not just because they are wonderful dancers, or for the curious collaborations they commission; were also there to see the video diaries ubiquitous at their shows, because they seemed like genuinely interesting people. The new generation of Balletboyz not only inherited Nunn and Trevitts versatility, proving themselves in a series of dance styles on their first tour, but they also have the personality in bucketloads to match.

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