Even if it’s their Edinburgh debut, the award-winning all-male company BalletBoyz are anything but newbies in their double bill Them/Us. We’re presented with a strong cast of six who explore individuality and relationships through dance – but, believe me, it turns out to be a lot more than just that.
Them specifically focuses on making each dancer stand out, leaving room for solos and ‘one vs all’ dynamics. Every dancer is wearing a colourful tracksuit (similar in style but all different), and in the middle of the stage, a rectangular structure is used to dance in, jump across and climb on. It is an absolute spectacle. Each dancer gets their chance to shine, whilst playing out a different relationship with one or all of the others. You can see the dynamics between siblings, lovers, married couples, fathers and sons play out before your eyes. The beauty of dance is that is universal and has no language barriers, so it is easily legible and open to all sorts of interpretations.
Us, on the other hand, does not rely on any props but the dancers’ abilities alone. Focus shifts away from group dynamics towards intimacy. Colours of costumes are muted; they appear larger and more floaty. Every touch is measured, every movement done with care and precision. This second part contains mainly duets (and a solo), and I’m afraid to say that this is probably the reason why I have preferred the previous piece. The incredible physical storytelling ability of the whole group was lost in the smaller numbers. In this sense, Them/Us can appear a bit unbalanced.
Still, the piece – here presented at Underbelly Bristo Square after a short West End run – remains a spectacle to behold. And a special mention should be given to the original music (Charlotte Harding) and beautifully crafted lighting design (Andrew Ellis), which wowed me throughout the show.