BalletBoyz bring Life to Shrewsbury

Balletboyz have just embarked on the second leg of their tour of Life., a visually stunning show that takes a powerful look at life and death, choreographed by Pontus Lidberg and Javier de Frutos. We talked to BalletBoyz artistic directors Michael Nunn and William Trevitt  about the show and their boundary breaking all male dance company.

Can you tell us a bit about Life. and how the idea for the project was first developed?

We imagined a show called Life, a title that would be very open ended in terms of meaning, but that would spark an idea in the minds of the choreographers. They were both given the title and asked to use it in any way they wanted and what you will see is the result of that spark. There are predictable ways to create for a group of ten young men, but we were looking for something beyond the obvious and in Life. We have been delighted to find to solutions to the problem that couldn’t be more different.

Life. features two new commissions by Javier de Frutos and Pontus Lidberg, how did this collaboration came about?

Variety has always been important to us and in the past we have wanted the two acts of a double bill to be in complete contrast to one another, but for Life. we were looking for more of a connection between the works. Javier has had a fascinating career ranging from small scale dance works to huge National Theatre productions and it is a great thrill to get to work with him, whereas Pontus was much less known to us. We had seen his work in some really beautiful dance films and thought that we would have at least have a connection with him on that level. Our dancers have proved themselves creative artists in their own right, collaborating on two unexpected and wholly original works which in strange way, are mirror images.

Both Javier and Pontus are prominent figures in contemporary dance but both have different styles and approaches, can you tell us a little bit of what to expect from each commission?

We obviously had some preconceptions about what Javier and Pontus might create but actually how they have created has been equally interesting. Pontus built up layers of movement until he saw what he had imagined whereas Javier chipped away, revealing more and more ideas until they began to form into a shape that none of us had expected.

You met at the Royal Ballet Upper School and joined the Royal Ballet together in 1987 where, between you, you played all the principal roles. Can you tell us a bit about your experience?

The Royal Ballet was a great place to work and a great place to learn. We were able to stand on the side lines watching our heroes and slowly learning our trade. We toured all over the world and really made the most of the privileged position to develop our other interests in photography and film.

BalletBoyz was formed in 2001, tell us a bit about how the idea for the company was developed?

In a big ballet company what often seems to happen is that visiting choreographers turn to the younger, fresher dancers when they are commissioned to create and at that time that was us. We always loved collaborating and creating and so when we left The Royal Ballet we wanted to spend all our time commissioning and creating new dance works.

Following its hugely successful run at Sadler’s Wells in 2014, Young Men has been developed into a feature length film. Describe to us this project and the process of creating dance for film?

The film is a feature length, silent movie with a score by singer songwriter Keaton Henson. Its the story of young soldiers in or around the time of the First World War, no specific army, battle or nationality, just young men facing death every day. It uses Iván Pérez’s choreography from our stage version that we adapted for film and we took the entire company to Northern France in November 2015 for two weeks to shoot. It was an incredible experience and has given us a taste of feature film making and we can’t wait for the next one!

Balletboyz Life.
Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury
16th November, 7.30pm