BalletBoyz: A Review by Rebekah Leslie

A review of two modern ballet performances by contemporary company BalletBoyz.

BalletBoyz: A Review by Rebekah Leslie

Going to see a modern ballet performance was a new experience for me. I love to watch classical ballet, with beautiful costumes and epic storytelling coming through the dancers and the music. 

When I was presented with an opportunity to see Ballet Boyz perform two modern dances, I was really curious but not entirely sure about what to expect. 

One thing is for sure, it was very different to classical ballet. Everything about it seemed different but it didn’t take long for me to realise that music and movement can be used in such a range of different ways to touch our emotions.   The expressive interpretation of nature in the first performance, called Ripple, made me feel calm. I was mesmerised by the music and the way the men moved on stage.                                                                                                     

Ripple, by Xie Xin explores the movement of water, from calm to raging and back to calm. The physical and emotional energy from the dancers and musicians filled the stage and the audience responded with cheers and a lot of clapping. I kept thinking of how powerful and yet how gentle nature can be! The music begins with an eastern, ethnic sound and moves into a more classical, Bach-sounding phase in the middle of the performance.           

The six men on stage had incredible energy. Choreographer, Xie Xin revealed that she had found working with an all-male cast really challenging. She wasn’t used to the different ratio of energy and power. She had to work hard to train the men to dance with tiny gentle, flowing movements.                                                                                                  

The second performance, called Bradley 4:18, by Maxine Doyle, uses the poem, ‘Pictures on a Screen’ by Kate Tempest, to vividly tell the story of a businessman, Bradley. He’s awake at 4:18am, wrestling with the age-old questions of ‘who am and what am I doing here I?’ The audience sees Bradley’s emotions shown through the dancing. Anger, narcissism, loss and sadness are expressed in a series of dance vignettes, using music and short pieces of narration to show Bradley’s internal emotional fight. There was a jazz vibe throughout the performance – a back street, urban setting with brick walls and steam vents were used to create a great atmosphere. I love the modern costumes of suits, ties and street shoes. Everything about this piece was so well ‘put together.’ Using the dancers to personify Bradley’s emotions was great; I couldn’t take my eyes off the dancers! As one emotional expression ended, there was a seamless flow of movement as dancers left and entered the stage.

The use of videos in the introductions to both pieces was a bit confusing at first. I didn’t expect to see recordings in a live performance. It turned out to be a useful way of letting the audience hear from the directors and to get a feel for their vision for their work. The audience did seem to appreciate the videos; however, I don’t think it would necessarily fit for every ballet performance.

I think the use of limited narration during ‘Bradley 4:18’ was effective and added to Bradley’s confusion.

I really enjoyed the way both dances expressed such a lot of different emotions. Both performances were physically demanding and strongly expressive.

If I had to choose, my favourite was ‘Ripple because I loved the movement and their realistic interpretation of water – to me, the movement and the music both sounded and felt like water! It made me feel calm and relaxed.

I would definitely go to another performance from Ballet Boyz.

By Rebekah Leslie

Header Image Credit: BalletBoyz

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