Since they burst on to the dance scene in 2000, the Balletboyz have broken many of the perceptions and traditions of ballet.
The company of 10 highly trained male dancers – who come from a broad spectrum of dance backgrounds – have stunned audiences with their physical prowess, versatility and explosive energy which has simultaneously turned the industry on its head.
The new spring production, which is now touring the UK, features two original pieces which have been devised by choreographers who hail from classical ballet backgrounds – Liam Scarlett and Russell Maliphant.
Both were told by the co-founders, Billy Trevitt and Michael Nunn, to come up with “puzzles that needed to be solved”. This is what Billy calls the process whereby he and Michael describe what they would like to see in a new production.
“We are very demanding,” explained Billy. “We have the overall picture of the show in our minds and so it’s up to us to find ways of tying the loose ends of a production together into a whole.”
This has proved to be a successful method over the last 12 years and has, once again, borne fruit, which Billy and Michael couldn’t be happier with.
As per their requests, Liam has produced a piece, titled Serpent, which is on the poetic end of the dance spectrum, as opposed to Russell’s piece, Fallen, which is more visceral.
“Liam was to create the essence of a classical ballet which is then subverted by the fact that it is performed by 10 men,” said Billy.
“Whereas we asked Russell to create something which is more physical and filmic. It is very like a movie soundtrack in that it is epic. Both are fantastic pieces and very different from each other.”
Michael and Billy like to push both choreographers and dancers out of their comfort zones and help them break free of the confines of their classical ballet training while similarly paying respect to the skills and techniques that are at the core of the dance form – something which is central to their approach.
While challenging for choreographers, the BalletBoyz approach can be especially difficult for new dancers who join the company – such as the five who were selected recently to join the ranks.
The first task for the new members was to perform in a festival in New York City towards the end of 2012, which proved to be the making of the current cast, who have quickly gelled into a slick and close-knit group.
“They were really thrown in the deep end, but that really broke the ice,” said Billy.
“The biggest thing for the dancers to learn is the strength and co-ordination it takes to lift each other and also be lifted, which they are not used to: that’s always a challenge.”
A factor which has also helped in the formation of the new Balletboyz is the new studio in Kingston upon Thames, which is now their home. For the first time, office space and studio are under one roof.
Billy said: “After seven years of leading a somewhat nomadic existence when it comes to rehearsing and having a physical base for the company, our new home in Kingston upon Thames will mean that, for the first time in the company’s 12-year history, we will have a permanent studio facility available to us 365 days a year.”
However, for the next three months of the tour, it’s back on the road for the BalletBoyz. They have picked up where they left off in spreading the word of their dance revolution.
BalletBoyz will present the new works of Liam Scarlett and Russell Maliphant at HM Theatre, Aberdeen, tomorrow, and at Eden Court, Inverness, on Wednesday, February 20. Tickets are available from Aberdeen Box Office on 01224 641122 or www.boxoffice aberdeen.com and from Eden Court on 01463 234234 www.eden-court.co.uk