In FRAME: BalletBoyz

Last month’s newsletter and blog featured an article on digital dance and mentioning the exciting opportunities inherent in the medium of dance on screen. This month, BalletBoyz is co-presenting [FRAME] The London Dance Film Festival. In this interview, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt discuss dance on camera, FRAME, BalletBoyz, and the company’s projects.

Frame Film Festival, the major new festival that enjoys the best that dance and dance film offers will take place across Kingston from 9-12th June. Can you tell us a bit about what to expect with this exciting festival?

Frame is a dance film festival, highlighting the very best in dance film making, a notoriously tricky genre to define and to get right. We have been watching hundreds of films, looking for great story telling, original choreography, and unique voices in the film world. But we haven’t turned our backs on the past as we want to show some of the best classic dance films from great filmmakers. There will be prizes for dance films along with innovation and technology. Hopefully we will find some great new talent to inspire new ideas and collaborations.

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. So when we left The Royal Ballet we wanted to spend all our time commissioning and creating new dance works.

In 2010 you retired from the stage and developed the first edition of The Talent. Tell us a bit about this ground-breaking project?

The Talent was a bit of an experiment at first, we knew that both choreographers and audiences were intrigued by the idea of men dancing together and thought we would try and push that to an extreme by having a company of 10 young men. We never really imagined that it would be as popular as it has been, thinking it might last a year or so before we would need to think of something else. Instead, the interest remains and there seems no end to what they can achieve.

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. It’s 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!