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Ballet Boys (Henrik Skram)

October 5, 2014

Cover_BalletBoysBALLET BOYS

Henrik Skram, 2014, MovieScore Media
11 tracks, 24.45

“Ballet Boys” is a score that won’t be on many people’s radar. Yet Henrik Skram’s music is absolutely delightful. A true hidden gem from MovieScore Media.

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Written and directed by Kenneth Elvebakk, this documentary employs a fly-on-the-wall approach chronicling the lives of three Norwegian boys (Torgeir, Syvert and Lukas) who share a passion for ballet dancing. While studying the art of ballet as an extracurricular activity, the boys share many disappointments, victories, and even their first loves. By the end of the movie, all three of them must make an important decision whether they want to pursue their passion on a professional level, or keep it as a hobby while focusing on their higher education.

What does it sound like?

A strong sense of virtuoso runs through this score. The opening “Grasse” features fast-paced runs and arpeggio for strings (with an emphasis on solo violin). There isn’t a melody as such, but the composer is constantly shifting chords – think James Horner’s ‘mathematical’ pianos, but even faster and more frenzied.

A large part of  “Opening” sounds like it’s played at half-speed. Long drawn-out chords for soft strings, sporadically augmented with a slow 6-note theme on harp. In contrast, “Big Feelings” opens with string ostinatos and bold brass chords before settling on a lush melody for strings. Upon closer inspection, this is the theme which the harp introduced in the previous cue. Now that it’s played a little faster, it feels more purposeful and joyful; and has a slight French feeling about it. After an introvert “Plan B”, the main theme returns vividly in “Future”, where it is performed on glockenspiel (and woodwinds) with harp and string accompanying.

“Play” is a wonderful little cue for (very) soft strings and faint synth pads and twinkling piano(s). It’s very Horneresque and has an air of wonder and discovery about it. The main theme makes an appearance in the closing moments of this cue. “Audition” captures the hectic and nervous nature of auditions with see-sawing strings and playful woodwinds and piano; whilst “The Wait” features low cello bows, nervous piano runs and tremolo strings.

Typical ‘fantasy’ chord progression, glockenspiel accents, horn and choir give “Approved” a magical feel. When the main theme returns, I am reminded of Danny Elfman; probably due to the woodwinds. After another introvert cue “Childhood” the album comes to a close with “Finale”. It’s a pressing cue with strident string ostinatos and searching brass chords. If this plays whilst the boys decide their future, the music isn’t giving anything away – other than how terrifying it is having to make a choice – any choice.

Is it any good?

Henrik Skram’s “Ballet Boys” is an incredibly nice surprise. A score that will be way off most people’s radars; and is therefore a true hidden gem. The writing and orchestrations are exquisite. Very beautiful and classical, without sounding old-fashioned. There’s a lovely whimsical melody that occurs throughout the score. In some ways it reminds me off an intimate James Horner, with hints of an early, romantic Danny Elfman. At 24 minutes, it is short; and I’m sure some people will hesitate to pay the standard album price for it. I can hand-on-heart say that it is worth every penny. With the album so focused, there isn’t a bad second on here. And with writing of this quality, it’s an absolute pleasure to play this two or three times back-to-back. I had not heard of Henrik Skram before, but I’ll be sure to keep a watch out for him. And once again, praise to MovieScore Media for discovering and making available these little-known, but wonderful scores.

Rating [4/5]


01. Grasse (3.20)
02. Opening (2.58)
03. Big Feelings (1.53)
04. Plan B (3.18)
05. Future (4.34)
06. Play (2.56)
07. Audition (0.56)
08. The Wait (0.49)
09. Approved (1.20)
10. Childhood (0.59)
11. Finale (1.42)


Check out the MovieScore Media website for more information and soundclips.

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