Sunday, 18 January 2015

Young Men

Young Men, BalletBoyz, Sadler's Wells - reviewed on 16th January

Photo: George Piper

It's the centenary of the First World War, so it's not surprising that choreographers are using war as inspiration. Following English National Ballet's Lest We Forget and Choreographics last year, the BalletBoyz's first full-length evening work explores male wartime experiences. Ivan Perez's Young Men encompasses sections highlighting soldier training, shell shock and nightmares, although such themes are hard to discern. Set to Keaton Henson's repetitive and overly emotive score and with Jackie Shemesh's lighting designs that leave dancers almost entirely in blackness, I struggled to connect with the piece. 

The BalletBoyz cast - previously all-male, but now including two females - are undeniably skilled. Performers move effortlessly between floor work, lifts, jumps and fluid body ripples, but it's hard to see choreography clearly and music serves to enforce emotion rather than enhance what is already present. Only in the piece's final scene (Homecoming) did dancers finally grab my attention, leaping out from the from the blackness onstage as if about to fly into the audience, their movements aggressive, determined and powerful. 

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