Bradley 4:18 Choreography by Maxine Doyle
Ripples Choreography by Xie Xin
Returning to Edinburgh after a successful run at the Festival Fringe, BalletBoyz performs their current Deluxe tour, which sees two productions back-to-back. Aiming to demonstrate the all-male troupe’s ability, Deluxe introduces audiences to two different shows from considerably esteemed choreographers.
Sacrificing their traditional essence of grace, with an image more connecting with that of masculinity, BalletBoyz loses an integral part of their charm with Maxine Doyle’s production Bradley 4:18. Risks are vital, they maintain freshness, and the intent of injecting headbanging, blood-infused brawl of aggression, mayhem and mischief doesn’t fall foul on all fronts, it’s divisive for the audience. Some will feel confusion, others intrigue, but suspicions rise many more will find disappointment.
Bradley 4:18 is distractingly literal, too physical to feel like authentic movement, instead conjuring the image of rehearsal. The choreography is less dance, more drunk West Side Story. Set in the early hours of the morning, the troupe perform the various situations one can find themselves within, the fights, the stumbles home and the ravenous hunger. It’s all coding, in a performance which seems to be relying on allegorical symbolism for the distinction some have between masculine traits and ballet. The issue is that the piece isn’t as technically capable as they desire, nor is it as rough footed as they want to communicate.
There couldn’t be a more significant difference between Bradley 4:18 and BalletBoyz’ following piece Ripple. Where the layout of the previous piece had an obvious structure, which grinds against the technique of the dance, Ripple presents parable, tying suggestion to the movement, incorporating storytelling into the emotion. Xie Xin showcases the exceptional ability of the group, hypnotically capturing the fluidity of change through her gorgeous choreography. In the opening short film, she discusses the struggles of dealing with a troupe of male dancers, feeling that the energy levels of a mixture would result in a better dynamic, how the boys prove her wrong.
Casting their forms into whirlpools, gentle bends of the river and dribbles of sudden, soothing flow – Ripple is a tremendous showcase. Capturing the essence of a base element is a signature profile of choreographed movement; with fire and air being relatively straight forward. Water has a distinction in its state, it’s shifting patterns, and Xin conveys this transformative property into the boys – who in turn, alter their being accordingly to morph into the shapeless mass of water.
Technically, there is little to fault the BalletBoyz for, indeed their strength and talent are evident in the lifts, twists and peak ability on display. Where they falter, is the communicative ambition of the first piece, which misses the mark on what we associate with the company yet fails to offer a unique diversity to explain this distancing. Ripple, however, is nearly worth the ticket alone with its sensational depth of skill, and expertise to marry raw masculinity with elegance in a touching manner.
For touring information, please visit BalletBoyz at: https://www.balletboyz.com/whatson