Keaton Henson's ballet score Us has been revived in London's West End, courtesy of its commissioners, BalletBoyz, to beautiful choreography by Christopher Wheeldon.
It forms part of a double-bill 'Them/Us', originally launched at Sadler's Wells in February this year. So successful was that production, that it has been immediately been given a two-week West End run in the Vaudeville Theatre on The Strand:
'Us, on the other hand, is brilliant. As the only choreographer, Christopher Wheeldon produces a coherent, elegant and electric piece about a relationship.It’s a stunning and mesmerising display, perfectly complimenting Keaton Henson’s beautiful score. In fact, the music and dancing work so well together that it’s difficult to separate them. From rhythmic, beating group choreography to spark-igniting partner choreography, every moment adds to the perfect overall flow of the performance.The troupe may show more range and individuality in the former routine but in the latter, the BalletBoyz really showcase their world-class talent, producing minuscule movements perfectly in time and impressively fluid jumps and spins. Hardcore dance enthusiasts may find something interesting in the experimental Them, but Us will most definitely excite.'
The UpComing (Jim Compton-Hall), 4 June 2019
'After the interval, things improve dramatically. In ‘Us’, we get the single vision of an extremely good choreographer, Christopher Wheeldon, who has a masterful eye, with a sure and poetic sense of groupings, lines, pace, shape, variation, and everything you expect (and pay for) choreography to provide. This raises the artistic bar of the evening handsomely, and casts the first half very much into its shade. Watt smartens up the boys no end for this piece, and Ellis, Nunn and Trevitt collaborate to light it with theatrical enthusiasm, creating exciting reaches of depth and dimension. And – thankfully – we don’t have to stare at those unloved walls anymore: the luxury of some simple flats to mask the tawdry reality of the backstage is a welcome move. Moreover, the musical score, here using the same string configuration but without the nods to the rock industry, comes from a composer with a much more heart-felt and intense voice, Keaton Henson: his pulsing, throbbing sounds – arranged with superb technical finesse by Ben Foskett – put one very much in mind of Lou Harrison, and reflect a kind of impassioned tonalism that is more than just attractive. This is a piece that any company would be glad to have in its rep. And were it part of a triple bill of the same sort of quality, I think it would be quite satisfying.As for the men themselves, they all acquit themselves respectably. In the first half, their own steps (moderated by the rehearsal director, Charlotte Pook, and also the artistic directors and founders of the company, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt) keep them very much in their ‘safety zone’: they execute everything neatly and tidily but never seem to do anything that takes the mind, heart, or spirit elsewhere. Quite different is the impact of Wheeldon’s much more exacting and dramaturgically focussed language: here we see his line-up pushed beyond what they can easily accomplish, and they have to work hard to attain a physical representation of his ideas. Yes, at times the ensemble is seen to be not quite as tight as it might be, and I wonder why this might be: has the first half somewhat lulled their attention and allowed them to lose something of the sharp precision Wheeldon expects? I’m not sure. For the record, the whole team – of whom you will see half a dozen at any performance – are: Edward Arnold; Benjamin Knapper; Paolo Pisarra; Harry Price; Liam Riddick; Dominic Rocca; Matthew Sandiford and Bradley Waller.'
BritishTheatre.com (Julian Eaves), 5 June 2019
'‘Us’, the second half of the evening, is a quite different affair. It started as a short duet by Christopher Wheeldon for a previous BalletBoyz show and has now been expanded. The new first half has all six dancers caught up in a regime where an undercurrent of aggression can be felt in their aligned movements. In this environment, Bradley Waller is physically stopped from making a deeper connection with any of the others – left alone, his solo of slumped resignation and beseeching lines etches out his sorrow and loneliness. Then, bare-chested and Adonis-like, Waller and Harry Price appear for the original duet – a heart-stoppingly tender coming together of two bodies that is both sensual and nurturing, as the pair use their strength as support, and lock eyes with a look of infinite trust. Combined with Keaton Henson’s lushly romantic score, it’s an achingly beautiful ode to love.'
Time Out (Siobhan Murphy), 5 June 2019