Balletboyz new work Them/Us is a tour de force in two distinct halves. Mixing flawless dancing, creative choreography and evocative composition, the performance is just the right mix of interesting, clever and moving.
The first half, Them, was perhaps the more challenging and creative. Harsh directional lights against an almost empty stage evoked a stark, almost brutalist, tone. This backdrop was enhanced by occasionally staccato music, which in turn set off the dance to give it layers of meaning that, at times menacing and at times humorous, were hard to pin down.
The quality of the dance was, of course, fantastic. Light-footed and strong, the dancers shifted from fluid to mechanical, from single to group, all with perfect grace and control. Their skill brought to life choreography that was really very clever, fully captivating and holding attention without having to resort to narrative. The group choreography was particularly impressive, complete with complicated intertwining, mutual support and subtle interactions. Also impressive was having multiple different things going on at the same time with each complementing, rather than distracting from, the other. The dancers filled the almost empty space effortlessly, moving with and reacting to each other seamlessly.
I say almost empty space, as the one thing that was on stage in the first half was a large, scaffold-like cube. This clever piece of staging was used to create spaces within spaces, letting the dancers form, use and move insides and outsides. Shifted, rotated and climbed, the scaffold cube was cleverly - both a clear presence and yet it did not detract from the stark atmosphere.
The second half began in a similar quasi-industrial mood, but quickly and subtly changed feeling. I would be raving about the excellent solo piece had it not been for the jaw dropping duet that brought the night to a close.
Powerful and touching, strong and vulnerable, I have never been so moved by a piece of dance before. The performers flowed so naturally and emotionally from and with each other that they at times seemed to be of one body. The accompanying composition, sad and deep, perfectly matched the movement, with each medium resonating and enhancing the other. It was, quite simply, beautiful.
Them/Us is a truly impressive creation, full to the brim with skill, creativity and feeling. Good stuff.