“Sensational, deeply emotional, heart-wrenchingly beautiful”
BalletBoyz first full length production Young Men is a deeply emotional, heart-wrenching and spellbinding portrayal of war, that explores battle scars and the loss of millions of young men.
The dancers’ (ten men and two females) intense performance is compelling, their movements emotional as they intimately share the experiences of war; training, fighting, dying, surviving. Through ten scenes each of the dancers become soldiers, one of the millions lost to battle, with the two female dancers portraying women emotionally torn, love lost, left behind.
The stage opens dark, bare, stripped of wings exposing stage lights, creating a raw atmosphere with live musicians, producing a deep beautiful rumbling bass and emotional strings that take hold of your heart and pulls you through the dark story. Young Men has a strong narrative, explored through contemporary choreography by the acclaimed former Nederlands Dans Theater dancer, Iván Pérez.
The first scene Aftermath of War opens with the male dancers hauntingly lingering and wandering, suspended and lost to the woman, the lone female dancer on stage, who achingly with arms outstretched expresses the pain, the loss felt by all the women left behind. The next scene, Training a Soldier explores camaraderie as the company performs high energy exercises and combat sequences in group regimes under instruction of an officer yelling throughout the theatre.
Desperate Disguise tells the story of a woman so desperate to locate her lost love that she walks the trenches to find her man in a desolate scene of crowded dance sequences with the many soldiers. When it appears she may have discovered her love, they are torn and pulled from each other, lifted, carried away by the soldiers in lovely group arrangements.
Shell Shock and Nightmares explore the emotional effects of war and the choreography of battles fought and atrocities witnessed and re-lived is evident in the movements of the dancers returned from the field to their families. A battle is fought, eyes closed, asleep, physically re-enacting the trauma that is occurring in the mind, played out by the dancers on stage.
Shell Shock is the most confronting and distinctly choreographed scene with the outstanding performance by Andrea Carrucciu who is stripped down to his underwear, his body contorting, ribs protruding, legs and arms angular and his back bent to the point of pain. He looks emaciated, tortured both physically and emotionally. Andrea commands the stage, convincing as he concaves and contracts, bends, almost breaks, legs extended high with feet and toes splayed inwards. His angular and anguished performance moves from the physical to emotional when he was joined, supported and dressed by his company. A truly intense performance and a memorable scene.
Act II comprised five further scenes of high energy contemporary dance performed fabulously with real conviction. Carrying backpacks, the dancers looked to be parachuting, falling and travelling through the night sky, with movements that connected the dancers heavily to the floor; face down, arms and legs reaching high behind their bodies. As they seemingly land, softly, rolling and tumbling, they remained firmly connected to the floor with recurring choreographic themes.
The intense evening culminated in Battlefield Landscape with the dancers literally battling as aggressors, fighting as black dirt is dumped from overhead turning the battle into a desperate scrum. The soldiers are shot and killed, they drop, another takes their place, they charge and fall accompanied by a crescendo of deep rumbling bass that becomes silence when the last soldier falls.
Young Men is a poignant dance memorial to the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
BalletBoyz Young Men at Sadler’s Wells, London until 18 November.
by Savannah Saunders