Monday, 12 October 2015

REVIEW: BalletBoyz - Young Men: clichéd, shallow, but beautiful

BalletBoyz The TALENT – Young Men 
Sadler’s Wells 
Thursday 8th October 2015

At first glance, choreographer Iván Peréz’s response to the World War One centenary, Young Men is an emotionally charged, dazzling tale of war and friendship. Yet beneath the stories of love and survival, Young Men only glances fleetingly at the unpalatable truths of war.

The opening is heartfelt; a woman wafts about the stage like an autumn leaf, faltering and falling into sumptuous deep lunges. The dancers’ bodies are sinuous in the strings of explosive jumps and whirling arms. The men dive, kick, crawl and roll with the organisation of an army. Peréz drives his dancers in uninterrupted unison, building power, before spilling in waves that peel across the stage. 

However, it is Peréz’s romance with war and death that causes issue. Young Men touches on PTSD in the ‘Shell Shock’ passage, which sees white-faced Andrea Carrucciu naked but for a pair of black shorts. But with Keaton Henson’s overwhelming score of sirens and thundering cello, we not only feel uncomfortable watching Carrucciu’s awkward contortions, but also at the brevity of the exploration. 

While glossy images of freefalling soldiers, with dancers lying face down, arms and legs suspended in the air are aesthetically pleasing, they don’t confront the gritty horror, or the callous sacrifice of a generation of young men. Repetitive tender cradlings distort the senseless loss and mental illness, whilst cliché scenes of dancers torn apart are comforting in their familiarity.

Despite the beauty of the Balletboyz and their commitment to the choreography, Peréz fails to discuss the causes of this tragedy. Clichéd motifs and shallow investigation re-establish an idealised memory of war. Young Men allows us to forget the experience of the generation who died pointlessly under the command of the wealthy. 

Maya Pindar