Review: BalletBoyz, Them/Us (Vaudeville) or being moved to tears watching a piece of contemporary dance
It's a mercurial piece of so many breathtaking contrasts - fluid, floaty, tender, strong, angular and jovial. Their leaps, holds and shapes reflect and foster the individual while celebrating the strength, power and support of the collective.
Full disclosure: I don't know anything about dance. I'm a novice who has only ever seen two ballets (one of which I reviewed).
So I'm writing this review not as someone who can critique the technique and style but as someone who sat in a theatre to watch and experience contemporary dance for the first time.
For a newbie to dance, BalletBoyz's Them/Us at the Vaudeville Theatre is a great show to start with.
A good introduction
At the start of each of the two pieces, they show video clips of interviews with the dancers and creatives talking about how the two pieces have been created together with rehearsal footage.
It not only helps to set the scene but gives you a brief introduction to and an appreciation for the art form as well as a glimpse of the BalletBoyz's sense of fun.
Them was devised by the company rather than a choreographer in a process of democratic creativity and is set to string-heavy music composed by Charlotte Harding.
Her composition follows the tone and flow of the dance at times plucking strings, at others searing or gentle or infused with a contemporary tempo.
Versatility of style
The music is part of the dancers reflecting the versatility of style and movement as the six of them perform individually, in pairs and as a group.
It's a mercurial piece of so many breathtaking contrasts - fluid, floaty, tender, strong, angular and jovial. Their movement, leaps, holds and shapes reflect and foster the individual while celebrating the strength, power and support of the collective.
There is love, friendship and camaraderie in it. You get a sense that no one would ever be left behind.
I couldn't tear my eyes away from the stage to see whether I was writing notes intelligibly (I wasn't).
After the interval, there is an intro video for Us, this time an interview with choreographer Christopher Wheeldon who teases at the narrative describing it as a relationship of some sort.
Keaton Henson has composed the music and the dancers appear loose grey tailcoat-style jackets - they reminded me of street characters from a Dickens adaptation.
Starting with a solo the piece builds, a duo, a trio and so on until seamlessly the group perform as one before dancers start peeling away to leave two dancers who perform as if in a love story - platonic or otherwise.
It is breathtaking in its beauty, perfectly melded to the music with such grace, strength and seamless instinctive precision.
Cried a little
Watching it I'm not sure I breathed, I didn't write, I cried a little and I didn't want it to end.
I would happily go and watch Them/Us again just to drink it all in again. I don't have anything to compare it to but based on how it made me feel I'm giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.
If you've never seen contemporary dance before I'd definitely give BalletBoyz a go. It's at the Vaudeville Theatre until June 13.
It is one hour and 20 minutes including an interval and you can watch the official trailer here.
You might also like to read:
Fringe theatre review: Simon Stephens' Country Music, Omnibus Theatre ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.
My first ballet review: Romeo & Juliet at the O2