BalletBoyz: Young Men at Sadler’s Wells Theatre
With 2014 marking the centenary of WW1, there was no shortage of tributes, documentaries, academic works and artistic representations commemorating and analysing the conflict that changed the world. 2015 has seen the debut of a new work inspired by WW1 (and other conflicts of the 20th century), the groundbreaking production Young Men, performed by the award-winning, all-male, UK-based dance company, BalletBoyz.
Sadler’s Wells theatre – a venue dedicated exclusively to dance – is the perfect backdrop for the production. With its glass exterior, beautiful modern foyer and enormous black stage, it takes the audience away from the hustle bustle of Angel and announces itself as a peaceful and grand artistic space: a blank canvas of the highest quality.
The production is divided into two acts. There is no clearly defined linear narrative, rather, different situations and emotions are visited in ten scenes that could function independently of one another, but nevertheless blend together as fluidly as the dancers’ bodies. There is no dialogue, no set, and minimal costuming, centring the focus on the spellbinding movements.
An orchestra sits behind a semi-transparent screen at the back of the stage and plays a stunning score by Keaton Henson, a London-bred artist and musician. The movement on stage is so captivating that the music takes a backseat, except for when the sheen of a horn or the movement of a bow is momentarily glimpsed behind the screen, adding a powerful immediacy to the sound.
Spanish choreographer Ivan Perez, in collaboration with BalletBoyz founders Michael Nunn and William Trevett (both former performers in the Royal Ballet), never intended to create a production focused on war, but that is what came of their experimental workshops which began over two years ago.
Now in its 15th year, the company has made waves in the dance world for its daring, world-class projects. The performers in Young Men are drawn from a group created in 2010 by BalletBoyz, The Talent. As a whole, The Talent are mesmerisingly in sync and evenly matched – they really do move as an army.
You will be lulled into an almost meditative state as you watch their limbs stretch to unbelievable breadths, their muscles and veins bulging with an effort that lays the toll and emotion of battle so bare on the stage that at times it is physically exhausting to watch. Painful, beautiful and one-of-a-kind, Young Men is not to be missed.
Young Men is on at Sadler’s Wells Theatre from 14th until 18th January 2015, for further information or to book visit here.