Ballet Boyz is not just boys or men – let’s begin there. And its playful name is just the right way to have met them this past week at Jacob’s Pillow. The London-based company was here to premiere three pieces and the audience with which I saw them was ready for more.
Broken Fall and EdOx, choreographed by Russell Maliphant and Rafael Bonachela, respectively, employ a fluidity of pace and movement that transfixes to the point of hypnotic connection with the dancers’ bodies. In the former, Nunn and Trevitt, the company founders and co-directors, work with Oxana Panchenko and her weightlessness is surely credit to the trio – her own capacity to lift beyond human expectation and the men’s remarkable control. Trevitt and Nunn lift, roll and balance Panchenko as though she were inanimate but they are so tuned to her responses that we never lose sight of her active involvement in the dance.
The last two dances, Propeller and Yumba vs. Nonino demonstrate the company’s wider range and affection for dance that is immediately more accessible. But added to access, and “tradition”, if that doesn’t in any way disparage the works choreographed, respectively, by Liv Lorent and Craig Revel Horwood, is warmth, great humour and a cheeky self-awareness that obviates any thought that Nunn and Trevitt feel the need to cushion a programme by imposing “hits” to balance “risks”.
There is film used throughout, often to introduce a piece. The Ted Shawn Theatre sound system didn’t seem up to the demands of this element, or at least from where I sat it was too much work to try understanding what was being spoken. Some audience members said that the accents were hard to make out, but that isn’t my point. The speakers themselves, perhaps the lack of enough to fully cover the house, muddied what might otherwise have been a sweet diversion.
This was my first experience with Ballet Boyz. As always, the Pillow takes its role as leader, teacher and mentor very seriously and I gladly follow where they lead.