Tender But Punchy: Another Triumph For BalletBoyz At Vaudeville Theatre

BalletBoyz, Vaudeville Theatre ★★★★☆

By Tiffany Pritchard Last edited 60 months ago

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Last Updated 06 June 2019

Tender But Punchy: Another Triumph For BalletBoyz At Vaudeville Theatre BalletBoyz, Vaudeville Theatre 4
Photo: George Piper

BalletBoyz are at it again with another artistic, ground-breaking performance, this time in the form of two parts: the first, titled Them, is representatively directed by the company of eight dancers. The second, Us, is an extended version of Tony and Olivier award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s compassionate duet first presented in 2017.  

Photo: George Piper

As usual, the choreography derives from the company’s artistic directors, ex-Royal Ballet dancers Michael Nunn and William Trevitt. Rather than husky male figures punching their way around the stage, we are treated to effortless, rhythmic movements that express sentiment in a way that’s all too rare for the more acrobatic types usually seen in all-male dance troupes.    

Photo: George Piper

With Them, the dancers are clad in bright, colourful tracksuit costumes, and move in and around a steel box, suggestive of both isolation and belonging. As the dancers discuss in the video opening, it's best not to overthink the narrative and instead simply enjoy their masterful, lighter-than-air movements, which are well timed to composer Charlotte Harding’s bold musical composition.

Photo: George Piper

Wheeldon’s Us also begins with a ‘making of’ video. It's arguably unnecessary but does offer insight into his impressive choreography style, here coupled with composer Keaton Henson’s lush score that tugs the heart strings.

This expanded version now includes the full cast at the start, but as with his original piece, the most emotive section is the duet that focuses on two men and their fraught relationship, reminiscent of floating birds in transcendent beauty. This more minimal piece is built on physical, tactile, human connections and offers a tearful human punch.

If you missed the show in March at Sadler’s Wells, go now to see this in the West End, where its tender methodology will hit you hard.  

BalletBoyz, Vaudeville Theatre, 404 Strand, WC2R 0NH. Tickets from £25, until 15 June 2019.