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30-Second Reviews: BalletBoyz and William Way’s Indigo Ball

10.24.14
BalletBoyz
Philly Now

By Bill Chenevert 

Overall vibe: Gasp-worthy and jaw-dropping choreography from the London-based all-male company. Founded in 2000 by Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, co-artistic directors and Royal Ballet alums, their now 10-man cast won a 2013 National Dance Award for Best Independent Company. I can see why. Now, I’ve been lucky enough to witness companies like the Bad Boys of Dance come through the Annenberg, and with a rather skin-friendly promotional shot of their company floating around, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was nothing like Rasta Thomas’ light-hearted hybrid of Chippendales and contemporary ballet-heavy dance. Nunn and Trevitt are clearly interested in some of the questions I was sent off into the night thinking: What does masculinity mean in dance and ballet? What can be achieved without women that will make their absence artistically smart? How can male bodies perform mind-blowing choreography in ways that female bodies cannot? “Serpent,” the first act, had the most bits of sensuality and homoerotic tension, but it was never tongue-in-cheek. “Fallen,” after the intermission, was even more astonishing for the way that it went for pure physicality, tribal instincts and rhythms born of man’s earliest times. In “Serpent,” dancers wear flesh-toned shorts that mightily accentuate all of their incredible bodies, but again, never for kitsch or cheap thrills. And in “Fallen,” their costumes were mostly unremarkable baggy cargo pants and sleeveless shirts, which just helped accentuate the insane dancing on display.

Most memorable moment:
During “Fallen,” they started doing these cyclical movements, with pairs executing identical feats in staggered and round-robin fashion. One of them was a move that had one dancer jump—extraordinarily athletically and gracefully, I might add—to the top of a partner’s firmly planted thigh, then leap another few feet higher from there. There were less-memorable moments of slightly askew coordination and alignment, but perhaps it’s more forgiving when a 5’2” dancer and a 6’1” dancer are executing the same choreography. But with “Fallen,” there was so little stress on the exactitude of sameness, it felt like a perfect 10-dancer piece. And the audience agreed. They went nuts. Almost everyone stood on their feet to applaud.

Scene stealer:
Just the talent on display. So, kudos to “Serpent”’s choreographer, Liam Scarlett, and double-kudos to “Fallen”’s choreographer, Russell Maliphant, and those 10 stone cold foxes who made it come off so dramatically and powerfully.