When it started in 2001, the BalletBoyz seemed to be a flimsy flirt of one or two seasons at most. More than ten years later, after several award-winning productions, spellbinding collaborations and film creations, they are a company of ten with their own rehearsal studio, guest choreographers, and a loyal audience. Michel Nunn and William Trevitt have started to grow the enterprise, multiplying and transferring their skills to the next generation. With The Talent 2013, the BalletBoyz celebrate masculinity in classical terms bringing us back to ancient Greece with its heroes and athletes. It is a two-part flight excursion over Hellenistic sculptures and Olympic games.

Before take-off, Nunn and Trevitt – the perfect flight attendants – serve us a short film with a few dance moves and introductory words from the choreographers. The first stop is Liam Scarlett’s sculptural complex Serpent. Premièred in January this year, the piece by the 26-year-old choreographer is an ode to masculine beauty and physical prowess. “Fluidity”, declares Scarlet, is the point of departure for the piece: ten men create fluid lines on the beautiful score by Max Richter, already heard in Wayne McGregor’s Infra, bathed in a colourful and brilliant lighting design by Michael Hulls.

Full of classical aesthetics (in ballet terms) this is a moving version of the Hellenistic sculptural complex Death of Laocoon. In Laocoon, a man and his two sons are wrestling with an enormous snake. Similarly, our heroes (the association to classical mythology is easy to make when there are ten young men in tight skin-coloured costumes on stage) alternate between fights with wrestling moves and swift martial combat duets, and co-operation with trustful jumps and loyal lifts and catches. Even if the bodies are sculpted into plastic forms, they are not objects on display but are seen in action, celebrating masculinity. Besides that, there is no real narration with the circular structure of the piece depicting a condition rather than a linear story. Apart from the title, no other serpentine reference is made. The reptile crawls out of the choreography right at the beginning when arms recalling Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake open the piece; the association with beaks is too strong. At the same time impressive split jumps do not really fit the general image of a serpent. To be mentioned as well is Hulls’ simple but clever design, which constantly transforms the colours of the dancers’ costumes. Is this maybe a hint to the rainbow serpent?

We then fly over to Russel Maliphant’s Fallen, also premièred in January and also an ode, but this time to the Olympic games. Maliphant is not new to creating for the BalletBoyz. For them, he has also choreographed Torsion (2002) and Broken Fall (2003), performed with Sylvie Guillem. Similarly to these pieces, what he proposes is an image of “regular Joes” with the dancers wearing military-like trousers and tops – it could also be a factory worker uniform – on a bare stage. The piece starts with the dancers moving for an unnecessarily long time in a double circle, with what looks military-inspired crouching and crawling, to more virtuoso sequences. In the naked space, with strong contrasts between light and darkness, the soldiers/dancers become a group of gymnasts as a thin line of reflecting material that has been cunningly hidden along the legs of their costumes is illuminated. A mix between combat, military and gymnastics, the piece becomes a declination of falls, skips, leaps, catching and sustaining bodies. It slowly moves from dancers climbing over each other, to falling and being caught, with people being transported as logs on shoulders or being tossed around from one person to the next. The score is an interesting mix of the music of Armand Amar, known for his collaboration with Carolyn Carlson, and the sound of water falling, but no other reference to this is made. The mood evoked by the movement and the music is close to the middle part of Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16 (1999). The piece gets more and more exciting until an abrupt end brings it back to the circle at the beginning. Again, there is no narration; what is evoked is more a mood or condition. Sipping the last drops of movements, we are a bit shaken, but not stirred.

Nunn and Trevitt have gone a long way gathering useful experiences in connecting with the audience, as seen in the short introductory trailers and the constant social media presence. It is a spectacular show with skilled dancers, one of which is not trained but blends perfectly in the group. But mostly, it is interesting to watch the energy of so many men on stage. And there are rumours of an all-female company. Whatever they will come up with, they know that the secret is to follow what the audience likes, quoting the choreographers: “What do you want to see?” “Beautiful, yet strong dancers”.