BalletBoyz, the multi award-winning dance troupe, has released production images for Deluxe, its all-new, live dance show in celebration of the company’s 20th anniversary year. The double-bill with a special video introduction brings together collaborations from some of the world’s most inventive and thought-provoking artists, including an all-female team of choreographers. Deluxe embarks on a nationwide UK tour from 1 March through to May, including three shows at London’s Sadler’s Wells from 25 to 27 March with opening night for press on 25 March. Deluxe is a co-production with Sadler’s Wells.
Fusing beautiful dance with original music in the company’s unique and unmistakable style, Deluxe will see Shanghai-based dancer and choreographer Xie Xin (TAO Dance Theatre) make her UK debut choreographing a new piece for BalletBoyz set to an original score by composer Jiang Shaofeng, whilst Maxine Doyle (Punchdrunk) will present work to live jazz music by composer Cassie Kinoshi, of the Mercury Prize-nominated SEED Ensemble. A short film by dancer and choreographer Sarah Golding will start the evening and introduce audiences to the dancers.
Founded in 2000 by former Royal Ballet dancers Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, BalletBoyz is regarded as one of the most original and innovative forces in modern dance through its celebrated stage and television work. The company has made 38 pieces of new work for the stage over the last 20 years, won 13 international awards and became the first dance company in history to win a Rose d’Or Award for its first feature film. BalletBoyz has collaborated with 25 choreographers, ranging from some of the world’s finest and most established to emerging and unknown choreographers including Christopher Wheeldon, Akram Khan, Kristen McNally, Matthew Bourne and Liv Lorent to name a few. BalletBoyz continues to be celebrated across four continents by audiences and critics alike; the company has performed their work more than 400 times around the UK and in 13 countries across the world, with over 350,000 people having seen one of their productions over the last 20 years. Many people have also attended their regular dance workshops and classes for both children and adults, including specialised classes for people with learning disabilities and Parkinson’s, held at their studios in Kingston.
The current BalletBoyz Company includes Joseph Barton, Benjamin Knapper, Harry Price, Liam Riddick, Matthew Sandiford and Will Thompson plus apprentice Dan Baines.
Choreographed by Xie Xin
Music by Jiang Shaofeng
Ripple marks the UK debut of Chinese choreographer Xie Xin choreographed to a highly detailed electronic score by composer, lauded tap dancer and her long-time collaborator Jiang Shaofeng. The piece explores movement inspired by the memory of a person and the flow of energy that such memories and feelings possess. Beautifully fluid and lyrical, it sees the BalletBoyz company express new styles in contrast to their familiar athletic and strength-oriented work.
Xie Xin said: “The choreography was carefully created on the BalletBoyz dancers to interact with these details in very subtle ways, that build and build over time. The dancers adopt a much softer way of moving than their usual powerful energy, to bring them to my way: an expression of constant momentum, relatable to all.”
Xie Xin is the creator and Artistic Director of Xiexin Dance Theatre (XDT) and is an Associate Artist of the Shanghai International Dance Centre Theatre and jury member of the Lotus Prize. In addition to this, she is a guest professor at Shanghai University of Sport and guest choreographer of Hessisches Staatsballett (Wiesbaden) and Shanghai Dance Company. In 2014 Xie Xin set up her own dance company and began her career as an independent artist. Her choreographic works have won numerous awards in China and abroad, including awards from Rome International Dance Competition, the Lotus Prize, the Hannover International Choreography competition, and the Beijing International Ballet and Choreography competition. Her work has been financially supported by the National Art Foundation, CFLAC Foundation and the Young Artists Platform of Dance. Recently Xie Xin has worked as a dancer for Guangdong Modern Dance Company, Shanghai Jinxing Dance Theater, Beijing Tao Dance Theatre and Beijing Dance LDTX. In recent years, Xie Xin’s work with XDT has been performed at many European and Asian Art Festivals such as Kuopio Dance Festival (Finland), Colours Dance Festival (Germany), Festival Paris L’ete (France), STEPS Dance Festival (Switzerland), Wiesbaden Theatre Performance Season (Germany), Croatian Sprite and Hibernik Dance Festival, Chinese Dance Biennale, and Hong Kong Art Festival. She has participated in art festivals in 30 countries.
Jiang Shaofeng is a musician and highly regarded as one of the best tap dancers in China. He started to research music specifically in 2014. He has written music in various styles and incorporates a variety of effects into his work. In 2016 he created the music of From IN for Xiexin Dance Theatre (XDT). In the same year he also created the music of Touch for the first part of Unknown for XDT. In 2017 he wrote the music of After, the dance collaboratively created by Xie Xin and Pan Zhenhao. He continued his collaboration with XDT in 2018, creating the music for Obsessive. In 2019, Jiang Shaofeng worked with Xie Xin on Moments for the Wiesbaden Theatre in Germany.
Choreographed by Maxine Doyle
Music by Cassie Kinoshi
Bradley 4:18, choreographed by Punchdrunk’s Maxine Doyle, is inspired by the lyrics and story of spoken word artist Kate Tempest’s Pictures on a Screen, about Bradley, a seemingly successful young man struggling to connect with the world around him. It is set to a score by Mercury Award nominated and Ivors Academy Award winning London-based composer, arranger and alto-saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi. Composed in parallel with the choreographic creation, it is a highly atmospheric, filmic score with a modern jazz flavour. Bradley 4:18 presents the six BalletBoyz dancers as different iterations of the character Bradley and how he might act at 4:18 in the morning.
Maxine Doyle said: “With the BalletBoyz I was interested in seeing and exploring both their theatrical performance persona and personality. This became my fascination. Before beginning the process, I wondered about the nature of my artistic and choreographic conversation with six male dancers. I wondered what we might say together about the world we currently live in. To this end, Tempest felt like a provocative and shared point of departure. I arrived with a clear idea about costume aesthetic: a man’s suit in various states of distress, the poetic image of a man fading away. I was interested in the idea of violence as a way to wake ourselves up to the world, and the emotional residue of this.”
Maxine Doyle is an independent choreographer and director. Since 2002 she has been Associate Director and choreographer for Punchdrunk with whom she co-directed the multi-award-winning Sleep No More (London, Boston, New York, Shanghai), The Drowned Man, Faust and Masque of the Red Death to name a few. She has an MA in choreography from the Laban Centre and was Artistic Director of First Person Dance Company from 1996 – 2003 touring works such as Deja Deux, In the Face of a Stranger, Plastic Chill and It’s Only a Gameshow. In 2006 she was a Place Prize semi-finalist with Forest. Her work for theatre includes Evening at the Talk House (NT), Electra (Old Vic), The Changeling, Hamlet (Young Vic), The Children’s Hour (West End), Timon of Athens (The Globe) and Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (National Theatre). Opera includes Faust (Baden Baden) and The Cunning Little Vixen (Glyndebourne). Maxine is a regular principle artist at Springboard Danse Montreal creating Hubris, Electric Sheep and Miss D. Most recently Maxine has been collaborating on her first feature film Mari.
Cassie Kinoshi is a Mercury Award nominated and Ivors Academy Award winning London-based composer, arranger and alto-saxophonist. She is currently working in theatre, film, contemporary dance and both the jazz and classical performance worlds. Cassie is best known for her work with her large ensemble SEED, Afrobeat band KOKOROKO and jazz septet NÉRIJA. Theatre composition credits include: Top Girls (National Theatre), All The Shit I Can’t Say To My Dad, Blue Beneath My Skin (This Is Black, Bunker Theatre), SuperBlackMan (Battersea Arts), Pagans, Exceptional Mercy, Hy Brasil (Old Vic Theatre, Old Vic 12). Awards and nominations include: Mercury Award Nominee 2019 (Driftglass, SEED Ensemble), Jazz FM Breakthrough Act of the Year Winner 2019, Ivors Academy Award Winner 2018, Best Jazz Composition for Large Ensemble (Afronaut, SEED Ensemble), Parliamentary Jazz Award 2017 for Best Newcomer (Nérija), Jazz FM Breakthrough Act of the Year Nominee 2016 (Nérija), BBC Young Composer of the Year Nominee 2012.
Choreographed by Sara Golding
Music by Seed Ensemble
Ahead of the double-bill, the evening will begin with a short film introducing the BalletBoyz in a new work choreographed by dancer and emerging choreographer Sarah Golding and set to Seed Ensemble track The Darkies as featured on their Mercury Prize-nominated album Driftglass. The piece introduces the audience to the dancers’ and offers a look into their individual personalities and characters, and giving a flavour of the performances to come before they arrive on stage.
Sarah Golding grew up in Dartford, Kent and first started dancing at Miskin Theatre (North Kent College). She went on to train at Trinity Laban and received a BA and MA in Dance Performance (Transitions Dance Company). She has performed with Lîla Dance, Cathy Waller Company, and bangbangbang group. Sarah has performed a number of times at the Royal Court theatre (Teh Internet Is Serious Business, Primetime directed by Hamish Pirie) and is currently performing with the world touring cast of STOMP. Sarah often teaches her practice and choreography at various universities and colleges including London Studio Centre, The Place, Belgrade Dance Institute (Serbia) and is resident choreographer at Miskin Theatre. Sarah’s choreographic credits include BalletBoyz Dancer’s Course MOVEIT, Primetime 17 (Royal Court), As You Like It, Children of Eden (Mountview Theatre), and YMT (Lyric, Belfast).
The tour runs from 1 March to 23 May 2020. The venues include Glasgow Theatre Royal on 1 March, continuing to Darlington Hippodrome, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Blackpool Grand, Leicester Curve, Poole Lighthouse, Worthing Connaught, Sadler’s Wells, Exeter Northcott, Shrewsbury Theatre Severn, Yeovil Octagon, Northampton Royal and Derngate, Richmond Theatre, Deptford Laban Theatre, Bradford Alhambra, London artsdepot, Bath Theatre Royal, York Grand Opera House, Portsmouth New Theatre Royal, Bromley Churchill Theatre, Cheltenham Everyman, Wycombe Swan, Warwick Arts Centre, Guildford G Live, New Theatre Oxford and Belfast Mac Live.
Tickets for Deluxe at Sadler’s Wells from 25 to 27 March are available from www.sadlerswells.com and for the tour via individual venue websites.
Photo credit: George Piper