Phil Preece talks to William Trevitt about their new tour with Life.
I last saw the BalletBoyz in 2005 when their programme Naked came to Birmingham Hippodrome but I must confess to not having caught up with them since. However, the announcement of a new tour by this fascinating company has caught the interest of lovers of contemporary dance up and down the country so it seems an excellent time to find out what they’re up to now.
BalletBoyz co-artistic directors Michael Nunn and William (Billy) Trevitt met at the Royal Ballet Upper School and joined the Royal Ballet together in 1987. During their twelve years there between them they danced many of the leading roles for men in the world ballet repertoire. In 2000 they co-founded BalletBoyz, since when the company has danced all over the world, and won numerous awards and accolades working with leading dancers, choreographers and designers.
Now they’re planning a nationwide tour of Britain starting in April and running until June with a new double bill, Life., featuring two new compositions by top choreographers Pontus Lidberg and Javier De Frutos. Starting at Sadler’s Wells on April 20, it travels as far south as Worthing and as far north as Dundee plus all places in between including Exeter, Yeovil, Oxford, and Southport. The good news for Midlands dance-lovers is that this time they’re pitching up at the Lichfield Garrick on May 28, followed by Cheltenham.
This new BalletBoyz programme co-produced with Sadler’s Wells in association with Artsdepot is billed as an elegant, powerful and sometimes provocative look at life and death in the company’s own inimitable style and given the current upsurge of interest in dance in this country I was intrigued to hear what’s different about this upcoming tour from Billy when we caught up on the phone.
Companies like Balletboyz have done a lot to create an audience for modern dance. Billy agrees. “We’ve gone a long way to demystify it,” he adds.
“This latest programme is intended to challenge dancers in different styles over two acts,” he says. “But we’re not out to challenge to the degree that we get negative reactions – we want audiences to be entertained. Our aim is that you really enjoy the show, and that means excellent choreography and brilliant dancers. We’ve done a lot on TV too,” he adds, “and that all helps build a wider audience.”
“Tell me about the show,” I ask. “The two choreographers here have very different approaches,” he says. “Here we have ten young men, choosing an all-male cast to see what would happen. And the result is that both the dancers and the choreographers can’t get enough of these opportunities for testing themselves. We do have women dancers – for example in a recent TV version we did of the Kama Sutra – but here we decided to experiment with a dynamic that’s all-male to reflect the fact that more and more young men are pursuing a career in dance.”
“And how do you feel now about this new project?” I ask. “We’re very lucky,” says Billy. “There’s been lots of interest in it already for what is a truly varied programme with lots of contrasts and opportunities for exploration.”
So how do you ultimately want to be seen, I wonder. “Well, not too crazy,” he laughs. “Athletic, skilful, creative – and expressive.”
Billy confesses that ultimately he can’t tell me too much as these are still works in progress. “The tour has three legs,” he explains, “and we’ve got some great dancers, plus,” he assures me, “by the time we get to Lichfield I can promise we’ll be on top of it.”
I can hardly wait.
Life. premieres at Sadler’s Wells on April 20. For tickets and more info, Click here.
In the Midlands, Life. can be seen at the Lichfield Garrick on May 28 (for tickets call the Box Office on 01543 412121 or go online at www.lichfieldgarrick.com) and in Cheltenham on June 1 (www.everymantheatre.org.uk).
For all the BalletBoyz tour dates for Life., click here.