REVIEW: BalletBoyz at the Wycombe Swan
Pulsating male bodies in nude skin-tight leggings, twisting and turning their topless, toned torsos in ways that one would never think possible.
It can only be the BalletBoyz, the no girls allowed dance company that turns orthodox ballet entirely on its head whilst still keeping the art form close to its traditional roots.
The company, who staged a one-off performance at the Wycombe Swan on Monday, have made an extraordinary name for themselves since it was started 13 years ago by Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt and have delighted audiences all over the world.
Unlike a number of companies on the circuit, the BalletBoyz cast, some of which can only be in their late-teens, have been plucked from open auditions where a little dancing ability and a bucket-load of charisma is the key to getting the job.
And looks quite clearly play part. The dancers are rather easy on the eye, a treat for women and gays alike.
Thankfully, if you’re only in it for the muscles, an evening at Balletboyz can easily be disguised as appreciation for the ‘arts’.
With tattoos and chest hair permitted, these men sport the physiques of soldiers yet dance as elegantly as little girls.
At first it’s a rather peculiar sight.
The performance, this time entitled titled Balletboyz: The Talent, is clearly defined in two separate parts.
The first half, entitled Serpent, is a heavenly 30 minute sequence of soft movements and intricate ensemble work accompanied by what can only be described as a contemporary take on classical music.
The ballet itself is captivating, innovative and ever-surprising; able to keep my attention with the constantly changing use of space, levels and speed as well as the effective contrast between movement and still.
As Serpent goes on it becomes almost hypnotic.
It is easy to forget you’re watching real bodies as each movement flows so seamlessly from the other.
The Balletboyz make holding the weight of a fully grown man on a shoulder look as light as if you or I were letting a guinea pig roll over our backs.
Squint and the stage could be a computer screen saver, as contorting shapes make shadows against a coloured wall, turning and twisting in therapeutic monotony.
I thought the dancers must’ve got cold during the interval because disappointingly they returned to the stage for the second half wearing tank-tops.
The leggings had been ousted for khaki style pants but the set had been entirely stripped-back.
They were clearly going for the ‘edgy’ warehouse look, although I missed the shadows and the colours of the first half and felt worried it would turn in to something like Stomp.
Named Fallen, the standard of dancing remained second to none, yet it didn't engross me as much as Serpent did.
Instead of the soothing, classical-themed melody I'd been drawn-in by before the interval, Fallen was danced to a drum-driven tune.
The testosterone had been pumped up a level and with that the ballet was faster, more urgent, less focused and in my opinion distinctly less beautiful.
Having said this, it was still a gripping watch.
And on a stage as bare at that one, with probably the least in terms of set and effects I’ve ever seen in a theatrical production, the only thing Balletboyz really needs is bodies.