Internationally acclaimed BalletBoyz opened their new adaptation of their sell-out production Young Men tonight, 14th November. This all-male dance company is renowned for its vivid and vital dance productions, and this latest production is no exception. It has been commissioned as part of the 14-18 Now series, a five year art experience program connecting people with the centenary of World War One. It is especially timely given the Centenary of the Armistice occurred on Sunday.
Young Men is a story about, as one would imagine, the young men who fought in the Great War, the supposed war to end all wars. As one would expect for a piece about World War One, it charts the excitement and adventures of the men, their camaraderie, their love, loss and survival.
Originally premiered as a stage show in 2015, Young Men was subsequently turned into an award-winning BBC adaptation which saw BalletBoyz become the first ever dance company to present a full-length feature film. This latest production mixes live dance, live music and segments of the film. Now I haven’t seen the original stage show or the film, but I felt at times the mixed medium disrupted the flow. I believe I would have enjoyed it more seeing it in only one medium. Despite this, it was still a powerfully poignant and moving production.
Seven male dancers and two female dancers were beautifully choreographed by award-winning Iván Pérez. One scene involving two young lovers sticks out in my mind as does a soldier with shell-shock. Jumps and rolls contrast with the slower more classical ballet moves, while the falling and rising reflects death and survival. Individual and ensemble dances remind us that war was both an individual and collective experience.
Singer-songwriter Keaton Henson composed a perfectly fitting score. The up-beat tempo signifying adventure, the drums for a soldiers march while sustained string notes created desolate landscapes.
As the film was the background the majority of the time, there were no sets or props enabling the three mediums to tell the story. The stage had two levels to it which assisted with the movements of war and battle. The projection of trees was very atmospheric.
To help get the audience in the feel of World War One, the programme was in the form of a newspaper in size and structure which added a nice touch.
Hurry to book tickets as Young Men is only on until Saturday 17th November. Wednesday to Saturday performances commence at 19:30 with a Saturday matinee at 14:30. Prices range from £15 to £27.50 for standard with concession rates available.
Address: Wilton’s Music Hall1 Graces Alley, Whitechapel, London E1 8JB
Box office: 020 7702 2789
Written by Caitlin Neal