George Piper Dancesâ€“Ballet Boyz
George Piper Dances–Ballet Boyz
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, England
June 7, 2005
Reviewed by Margaret Willis
Whether it was the titillating posters in the London underground showing an artistically entwined naked couple, or the fact that the Ballet Boyz were back in town, the premiere of Naked saw the theater buzzing with celebrities. Two ex-Royal Ballet dancers, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, founded their group in 2001 and, in choosing top choreographers who use the dancers’ great physical and technical skills to the utmost, have enjoyed rave reviews. But now, with a commission from Sadler’s Wells to create an evening-length narrative work, the Boyz have found their own choreographic skills tested, and the reviews aren’t quite so rapturous.
Romance is apparently dead, as Naked, exploring the themes of love, betrayal, and revenge, graphically demonstrates. The opening glimpse of a girl sitting up in bed clutching a sheet and staring blankly ahead, while her man, head held in his hands, sits apart from her, indicates that love can be cruel and disappointing.
For this new work Nunn and Trevitt are joined by Oxana Panchenko, Monica Zamora, Yvette Halfhide, and Thomas Linecar to make three couples who weave in and out of the emotional action (though it is often hard to decide who is with whom). Girls strut like predators in high heels and diaphanous dresses; men swagger in shirts and pants. Only for one short segment is there any nudity onstage, and that’s a topless Zamora. The dancing is sharp, strong, and slow-motioned, testing balance and musicality, and the dancers are a joy to watch. The music ranges from pulsating electronics to Doris Day and Patsy Cline. At times the two bedroom walls display video projections of close couplings and repetitive walking. Also on video is Trevitt, who unfurls from a fetal ball to stand giant-sized and naked, glancing over his shoulder as his fully clothed real self stretches, twists, and contorts with sublime control.
The thin story line makes it hard to sustain choreographic momentum, and the work flags midway. But the final pas de deux of revenge between Trevitt and Nunn is gritty, showing them at their magnetic best. Here they exude sheer physicality with whiplash turns and leaps of Herculean force that land with baby softness, their bodies lithe and elegant.
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