23 March 2019

Them/Us by BalletBoyz - Northern Stage

I feel like I'm a bit behind about the Balletboyz phenomenon (a packed Northern Stage seemed to be big fans already). Founded in 2000 by Michael Nunn OBE and William Trevitt OBE, the Olivier award-winning company has established a reputation for being one of the most innovative forces in modern dance. Their latest show - Them/Us starts with six tracksuited dancers (who helped to create Them) bring into being an enchanting piece involving a cube frame, circus skills and moments that made me smile involving handshakes and gorgeous lifts. Charlotte Harding's stunning score rose and fell and complimented the movement perfectly.

Balletboyz Northern Stage
The dancers master the cube in Them 
I was pleased that there was quite a few young boys in the audience who would have been inspired by such a positive representation of masculine energy, soft yet strong, supportive yet each one standing in their own power. At one point two dancers morphed into a snake of all six, serpent-like, conjoined. 

After the interval, the dancers came back and the mood was more sombre, the colourful tracksuits  becoming grey shirts with tails. There was an industrial feel to the movement (my friend whispered 'slavery'), a mechanical aspect which was a real contrast to the flowing first half. There were some beautiful movements when the dancers faced each other and worked in pairs. The lifts and floorwork were standout. 


The final section, Us - choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon OBE was really touching, and I found it difficult to make notes during this section because I was so enchanted by the story being told by the two shirtless dancers. I felt like I was a fly on the wall watching real intimacy, beautifully scored by Keaton Henson. 

Reading the programme I was astounded that some of the dancers didn't start until they were sixteen, which will surely inspire school kids and anyone who might think it's too late to pursue a career in dance. Hats off to the dancers (Sean Flanagan, Benjamin Knapper, Harry Price, Liam Riddick, Dominic Rocca, Matthew Sandiford and Bradley Waller) for a moving, thought-provoking performance.

BalletBoyz are at Northern Stage on Saturday 23rd March at 7.30pm - get tickets here

Find out more about BalletBoyz and their creative learning programme here 

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