I went to see the Balletboyz on Tuesday night at GLive and once again I sat transfixed for the duration. Standing in the playground on Tuesday afternoon, comments from my fellow school mums all involved the promise of men in tights. Their image, I don't believe, is helped by their name and unfortunately leads everyone to think that it is literally a bunch of guys prancing around wearing nothing but a leotard and maybe being a slightly more high-brow version of the Chippendales.
What they are however is a group of highly trained male dancers. Tuesday's programme was of two works, the first was a contemporary piece choreographed by Alexander Whitley and the other, also contemporary, had a slightly more classical influence by Christopher Wheeldon, who both produce work for the Royal Ballet having had incredibly successful careers as ballet and contemporary dancers - so pretty good choreographic credentials!
What was so beautiful to watch in both pieces was the power of the male dancer and their ability to work through every range of movement with strength, grace and balance and seeing just what the human body is capable of. When watching classical ballet, the male dancer does tend to spend rather a lot of time supporting the female and making her look lovely. Removing the female influence from the equation allows more freedom for the male dancer, along with the partner and ensemble work that really plays on the sheer strength and power of the group.
During the performance I was switching hats constantly. One moment with my Pilates hat on thinking 'blimey, my shoulder stability would never allow me to do that' and 'wowzers, I can feel my back going in to spasm just watching that rotation while in extension', the next minute I was just lost in the emotion and spectacle of it all. There were sequences that required so much strength and controlled mobility that I would love to have them drop in to GPP to do my teaching demos for me! And the lighting made it like a 3D anatomy lesson seeing how these balanced bodies moved and stabilised with such definition that is hard to see in a regular teaching environment.
Coming out of GLive, having thoroughly enjoyed it (and the glass - or plastic cup - of Sauvignon that GLive let you take in to the auditorium!), I did also feel a little bit glum because many people wouldn't even entertain going to see an all male dance company because of preconceptions that it might be a bit wishy washy. I would say if you get the chance, go and let them prove you wrong. There's nothing feminine and fluffy about the Balletboyz - just strength and impact - and not a leotard in sight!