Introducing one of our volunteer dance reviewers, Charlie Ranken:
I have recently moved from West Sussex to Plymouth and am loving the creative community in the South West. I am a freelance dance and theatre artist and have been working within the arts for at least 10 years now. You will currently find me in the Radiant Christmas Grotto, an alternative seasonal immersive theatre piece where we need help to save Christmas! To find out a little more about me and my diverse days visit www.charlieranken.co.uk Enjoy my review and thank you to Dance in Devon for the opportunity.
Review of Fourteen Days | Ballet Boyz, by Charlie Ranken
Tuesday 14 November 2017 at Exeter Northcott Theatre
It’s dead on 7:30pm. I arrive at the Theatre after navigating my way through Exeter’s traffic.
Frantically, I phone my dear friend who is meeting me there.
‘It started at 7pm Charlie.’
‘What! Really, I’m sure its 7:30pm.’
‘I couldn’t save you a seat because you have the tickets.’
Oh man! I rush into the entrance, say a quick hello and walked up to the counter. It transpires that the 7pm show is something to do with Shakespeare. I look perplexed and communicate we are here to see Ballet Boyz, the ‘Fourteen Days,’ performance. The kind man googles my information and points out we are at the wrong Theatre.
After a mad dash from the Phoenix, our faces peeped through port holes in the Northcott Theatre grabbing glimpses of the second piece. Long legs and colourful shirts sprung around the space. It wasn’t my cup of tea. However, my opinion doesn’t really hold much weigh when I’m standing outside, peering in.
It was clear to me, after we sorted ourselves out and politely found our seats, that I had underestimated rehearsal time for professionals. I expect quality, precision and a deep embodiment of movement, intention and direction. When companies delve into a rehearsal period these aspects become naturally fused with the dancer and are realised on stage. Fourteen days is a hard push to learn all four pieces and be at one with the dance.
‘Fallen,’ the second half of the evening won a national award in 2013. I felt the dancers really enjoyed performing and were connected to the material. Choreographically, it was inventive, visually interesting and empowered by an intense music score. It moved the dancers, literally. I was with them, following their journey, I could sense heartbeats urgently moving through the space.
I also enjoyed the duet, performed by two male dancers. The motif was interesting and detailed using weight and suspension which flowed consistently throughout the piece. They used the whole space and engulfed the stage with their presence. It was like watching two humans moving rather than two performers.
The other pieces didn’t hold my attention in the same way. I felt I had seen phrases before or as my University lecturer would of said, class classics. I feel as an audience member I want to be memorised by movement out of my reach or interest me enough to work out movement after I leave the Theatre. Some moments did neither.
Please do go and see ‘Fourteen Days.’ There was a sea of smiley audience members who were all buzzing as they left the Theatre and if you’re new to contemporary Ballet Boyz is a great experience.
Most watched the entire evening from the comfort of the auditorium after a pleasant conversation in the bar, probably turning up a little earlier for a drink with enough time to go to the loo. This is the way to do it. Although my evening started a little differently, one thing was really clear and joyful to see, that contemporary dance isn’t dead. The theatre was packed and everyone was so enthusiastic to see each piece. Irrelevant of age, background, experience, opinion; Ballet Boyz draws the crowds and widens the audience of dance.
Top Image: Ballet Boyz