Called to the Barre

BalletBoyz , the all male contemporary dance company, return to the stage with a two part performance of their UK tour of ‘Life’, which I saw at Northern Stage in Newcastle. BalletBoyz are hot right now. And not just because they all look good in vests (which they do by the way,) but they are working with different choreographers to create ambitious new contemporary dance work with original scores and they are going down a storm.
The first performance is ‘Rabbit’ a rather sombre piece where one outsider finds himself among a throng of rabbit headed creatures. The choreographer is Swede Pontus Lidberg, and there was a bit of that film noir feel that everyone is in to at the moment, in those dark Scandinavian TV detective programmes. The rabbit masks are very realistic wih huge watchful eyes.

Rabbiting on

My companion described the rabbit masks as ‘mildly terrifying.’ Later on, the the rabbits seem to become more playful and less threatening as they spring about the stage and another mask less individual turns up so the original guy doesn’t have to be alone on his swing at the back of the stage. In the programme the narrative is described as ‘elusive’ although there is definitely something unpleasant going on. I tend to look for the joy or humour in things and there are shreds of it in the group interactions between the rabbits, and I rather liked the synchronised robotic rabbit sections with their menacing energy.

Rabbit runs

The second performance ‘Fiction’ is perhaps the more accessible of the two. The action centres around the (fictional) death of the choreographer himself, Venezuelan Javier De Frutos (great name.) The plummy voice overs iterate his dramatic demise, and catalogues his impressive choreographic CV and track record of challenging the establishment, with his outrageous dance creations.
The dancers are all in rehearsal wear, gathered around a large barre, and the stories and movement weave in and out, over and away from this structure. The BalleyBoyz learn of their choreographer’s tragic accident and the dancers react to this news in different ways, using their athleticism and flexibility to create shapes, stories and patterns between each other and the audience.

Balancing act

The BalletBoyz are an interesting group and the dancers have clearly been able to put some of their own personalities into this piece in particular, which I think is one of its strengths. The music includes sections of Donna Summer’s Last Dance which is a favourite of mine and one of the voice over artists is definitely Carson the butler from Downton Abbey, both little details I appreciated.

Boyz at the barre

There is a local lad in the troupe, Jordan Robson from Newcastle and I really enjoyed his performance as did his many fans in the audience! In the second piece where the boys were sporting M&S lounge wear, he definitely wore the vest best, as well as being a cracking dancer.
He said: “We’re all super excited to be performing in Newcastle! For me it will feel extra special to be able to return and perform in my hometown for the first time!”
The BalleyBoyz impress with their sheer athleticism and range, and it will be very interesting to see what they come up with next.
This production received its world premiere at London’s Sadler’s Wells in April 2016 to widespread critical acclaim. Returning with a third UK leg this spring, the company will also embark on a North American and European tour in the New Year. Check out their website for their upcoming tour dates BalletBoyz