Sunday, 24 April 2016

REVIEW: BalletBoyz - Life

Fri 22 April 2016
Sadler's Wells
BalletBoyz - Life
Pontus Lidberg - Rabbit
Javier de Frutos - Fiction

Returning to Sadler's Wells after Young Men, Artist Directors Michael Nunn and Willam Trevitt commission another brilliant double bill. Structured like two ends of the same argument, Rabbit and Fiction are brimming with rabbit imagery and tragicomedy.  

Swedish choreographer, Pontus Lidberg's Rabbit marries surrealism and loneliness, against the cool landscape of gently wafting lengths of cloth and tolling bells. Clad in vaguely 1940s shirts, vests and braces, dancers with furry rabbit heads invade the space, hopping, skipping and cartwheeling. The tone is tender, with sudden outbursts in  Górecki's score, which seem to initiate an exaggerated running motif that rocks back and forth. Later, a couple of rabbits linked hand to ankle, roll by like tumbleweed, as a fragile and inward solo unfolds in front of us. 

We can't escape the niggling feeling that Lidberg's rather nordic choice of imagery in Rabbit is far more significant. As in Watership Down, The Animals of Farthing Wood and Of Mice and Men, Lidberg's rabbits seem to connote persecution and death. Coupled with the images of men draped over the shoulders of rabbits, like parachutes caught in treetops, there are poignant undertones of anguish as the bells toll over Lidberg's stage.

From Lidberg's surreal realm, we move to Fiction, by Venezuelan choreographer Javier de Frutos. Wanting to create a work about the death of a choreographer, de Frutos imagined his own (rather inventive) death, since it 'seems impolite to kill anyone but himself'. Fiction sees a stark change in its stripped set design and the welcome use of comedy.

The dancers move with confused expressions to critic Ismene Brown's words, unfurling a canon of rippling arms and torsos beneath a large ballet barre. A throbbing mass of bodies follows shell-shocked dancer Marc Galvez, as he struggles to come to terms with the fictitious death of his choreographer. De Frutos creates gorgeous kaleidoscopic formations around the ballet barre, as the men slice the air with blade-like arms. He takes full advantage of the BalletBoyz's precision, and risk-taking athleticism.

The curtain comes down on de Frutos' work with Galvez spinning, arms open to Donna Summer's anthem Last Dance. De Frutos is at once dead, resurrected and alive. 

Maya Pindar

Life is at Sadler's Wells until Sunday 24 April.

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