Get our free email newsletter with just one click

BalletBoyz: Life review at Sadler’s Wells, London – ‘grace and eccentricity’

Scene from BalletBoyz: Life at Sadler's Wells, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton Scene from BalletBoyz: Life at Sadler's Wells, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton
by -

It is rare to find extremes of grace and eccentricity in the same evening but the two works here deliver both in spades. Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg’s ballet Rabbit is by turns exquisite, magical, funny and touching. Opening with a young man – possibly a schoolboy – dancing alone while another man with a rabbit’s head sits on a large swing, it blossoms like a night bloom into a fantasy of growing up.

The rabbits multiply, as rabbits are wont to do, and intermingle with the man before ‘returning’ to human form. While the live orchestra conveys the shifts from the quiet piano figures to juddering strings of Gorecki’s Kleines Requiem fur eine Polka, the dancers engage in a series of serenely floating lifts and synchronised stomping. Abstract yet pulsating with imagery it evokes childhood, imagination, relationships and the human ache for friendship. Exquisite and atmospheric it is a perfect midsummer night’s dream of a ballet.

If Javier de Frutos’s Fiction is not quite perfect it is tremendously enjoyable if only for the voice-over of his obituary, written by the dance critic Ismene Brown at his behest. At a rehearsal in the gym, the dancers hear of the choreographer’s death in a stage accident and the group begins to fragment, turning on the youngest (and smallest) in their confusion. There is a lot of gymnastic twisting, bending and interlocking movement around the freestanding barre and a palpable sense of unpredictable and volatile locker-room behaviour. De Frutos’ sense of mischief keeps it buoyant even when it threatens to outstay its welcome.

From The Night of the Lepus to barre-room bullies? The BalletBoyz are back.


We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
A crack team of young male dancers explore the inner worlds of two extraordinary choreographers