The ever-engaging BalletBoyz – no strangers to putting their work on the small screen – kick-start Sadler’s Wells’ digital dance output with Deluxe, made to celebrate the troupe’s 20th anniversary.
Handily, the show had already been filmed, prior to the pandemic, at Leicester’s Curve. Comprising three new works by female choreographers, Deluxe’s first section is a zesty short film, titled Intro. Set to a freewheeling saxophone score, Sarah Golding’s jazzy choreography melds blokey badinage with camp capering and neat camera close-ups capturing the piece’s enjoyably ironic edge.
Maxine Doyle’s compelling Bradley 4:18, inspired by a Kate Tempest poem, deploys each dancer to tease out facets of the troubled titular character, a young man who’s awake in the early hours. While Cassie Kinoshi’s score spirals into cacophony, like an anxious tangling train of pre-dawn thoughts, the suit-clad dancers – eye sockets smudged with insomnia’s shading – take turns in the bare moody gloom.
Some dancers jackknife and judder with nervy intensity, others square-up to thin air before falling rag doll-limp, the swagger turned to sponge. Most striking is Liam Riddick’s solo: wearing a smear of lipstick, he vainly slinks and struts, keeling into an off-balance loop, a rodeo ride of self-regard.
Away from the mess of modern masculinity, Shanghai-based choreographer Xie Xin takes the troupe into softer domain with Ripple, harnessing muscular energy into spools of beautifully billowing sequential motion. There’s a sinuous and flexibile quality to Jiang Shaofeng’s score too, full of cello string slides and wavery harmonics. The costumes – pebble-pink and grey – look a silky delight.