Review: Balletboyz in The Talent at London & on tour

Performance: February 2011 & coming to Sadler's Wells in March
Reviewed by Sam Gauntlett - Monday 14 February 2011

Balletboyz - The Talent 
Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Reviewed: Artsdepot, 10 February

Just over a year ago Balletboyz Michael Nunn and William Trevitt decided to take a break from performing and held an open audition to pick a group of young men to form The Talent. On this, their second tour, the nine-strong group are creating waves in their own right: packing in audiences, attracting a hard core of female fans (no less so in North Finchley where a group of girls scream their way through the performance) and still fizzing with raw charisma and infectious, untamed energy.

The tour features three works, interspersed with short film pieces, which show ‘the boys’ rehearsing, splashing about in the sea and moodily prowling the streets of night time London. The films are a clever tool for building a narrative around the group and, capitalising on the sexual allure of the young men, function like a boyband music video, eliciting more screams from the girls, particularly during a scene where they appear to be standing naked in a field. But, far from just pretty boys, the Talent live up to their name during each performance, displaying some stunning skills and natural ability.

Originally choreographed by Russell Maliphant as a duet by for Nunn and Trevitt in 2002 and now reworked for six dancers, _*Torsion* _is the first piece and a brilliant showcase for the company. It is striking how well the individuals have evolved to work instinctively as a whole and unusual to see so much physical contact between male dancers. Challenging lifts are executed with graceful ease and followed with soft, padded landings and the stage is charged with a homoerotic, yet masculine energy as, in between intimate duets and interlocking phrases, the men prowl on the edges. Miguel Esteves is a particularly powerful presence and stunning talent, and when he circles the space in a series of turns performed on his knees, the audience erupts in a spontaneous round of applause.

*Alpha* begins with the men standing with their backs to the audience in a huddled circle, as though sharing a precious secret; a motif which is repeated throughout. The company is dressed in muted brown silk trousers and open jackets that billow in complement to the soft expansive choreography; the lighting, designed by Andrew Ellis, lends a beautiful sandy hue to the piece. The group behave as a magnetic force that individuals escape from, only to be drawn back in. At one point, Esteves runs at this central core, is caught and is transported around the edge by many hands.

A clip of grainy black and white film precedes and feeds into the final piece, *Void*, choreographed by Jarek Cemerek. In it, the young men are seen in various London night settings. In one scene, a hooded figure stands inside a brightly lit concrete entrance and strikes a range of poses as passers by appear oblivious to his presence; later, the group roam the streets together, huddled behind their hoodies. The film continues as a backdrop as the piece begins, with the men striding onto the stage in grey jeans and hooded tops. Sometimes the group gel together, at others they fight. The piece is aggressive and edgy, a comment on the tensions and instability of urban life, but the piece lacks the grace and hypnotic quality of the two that precede it and I was unsure about exactly what Cemerek, who was selected from 160 applicants to create the new piece for the company, was trying to say.

Balletboyz – The Talent are at Sadler’s Wells, 29 March – 2 April 2011 **”“:

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