Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, aka the Balletboyz, have always been media-savvy. Having stopped dancing, they have ditched their cheeky double act, recruited nine young men to form a new generation of dancers, given them a boyband image and called their show The Talent. Such image-consciousness is clearest in a video shown during the performance (reality TV-style auditions, blatantly voyeuristic camera-work), but beneath the gloss there remains a serious intent: to attract audiences to quality contemporary dance and choreography.
Did the programme deliver? On the dancing front, yes. They are a diverse but disciplined group, and what they lack in depth they make up for in verve and – well, talent. Miguel Esteves stands out for his fluent upper body, his ease at harnessing breath and momentum.
Choreographically, it’s a more mixed bag. Russell Maliphant’s Torsion, Nunn and Trevitt’s signature duet, has been reworked for six dancers. While the result loses the original’s electricity, it gains force by multiplying its best effects: tilting gyroscope spins, elastic partnerwork, pump-and-piston lifts.
Paul Roberts’s Alpha is attractive but undemanding. Only one section really catches attention: individual dancers thrown up from the group as if by a choppy tide. The music – plaintive, introspective songs by Keaton Henson – feels almost self-contained, leaving the choreography as a floaty add-on, suffused with vague sentiment and mild eroticism. It went down a storm with the boyband fans.
Void, by Czech choreographer Jarek Cemerek, is a dystopian vision of urban youth. It’s overlong but packed with gripping material: the dancers’ wolfish lopes and lizard wriggles, a noirish film backdrop, Ondřej Dědeček’s tense electronic score. Cemerek knows how to inject his compositions with shots of drama, as when a menacing circle of dancers shrinks away from a prone man, as if spooked by his vulnerability. Cemerek is little known as yet, but he has talent.