Feature: Billy Trevitt - on Balletboyz at the Roundhouse

Friday 25 July 2014 by Carmel Smith

BalletBoyz Michael Nunn (left), William Trevitt (right), with composer Keaton Hensonm at their Kingston Studios. Photo: Sophie Harris-Taylor

Balletboyz were co-founded back in 2001 by former Royal Ballet dancers Michael Nunn and William Trevitt. Since then the company has performed all over the world and have won numerous awards including the 2013 Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Best Independent Company. This month sees the final UK performances of BalletBoyz theTalent double bill Fallen and Serpent at London’s Roundhouse – and the chance to see an extract of a new work, Young Men, a 14-18NOW commission commemorating the centenary of the start of World War I. We caught up with William ‘Billy’ Trevitt during rehearsals this week…

The Roundhouse performances of Serpent and Fallen will be the last time you perform them in the UK – will you be sad to see them go?
I will indeed be sad to see them go. Michael and I probably watched them 60 or more times but miraculously still see something new in each performance. They’ve been like a dear friend! We’ll get the opportunity to spend more time with them in the US when we tour in October/November – it’ll be a good chance for us to work with different casts and to give opportunities to different dancers.

What do you think has been the appeal of this enormously popular double bill?
I think there are a variety of reasons – audiences love the show and the music with roughly half preferring Serpent , the other half Fallen. When Michael and I started with theTalent, there was a certain amount of fear because we knew how young and inexperienced they were but they’re so exciting to watch and we’ve seen them mature and develop. They’re more in charge now and we/the audience are filled with confidence knowing that we’re in the hands of experts.

Tell us how the Roundhouse production will work with the BBC Concert Orchestra.
It’s a first – we’ve never had live music for this show. We’re working closely with our old friend, conductor Paul Murphy who we worked with many years ago at the Royal Ballet. It’ll be great for the company to have the opportunity to give a truly live performance; with recorded music you know exactly what you’re going to get so it gives you the opportunity to experiment but to have live music will mean that the dancers are responding in the moment. I think it’ll be very spontaneous and very exciting!

Tell us what Roundhouse audiences will be seeing of your new piece Young Men
The version of Young Men at the Roundhouse is around 20 minutes in length and it’s an excerpt of a piece that hasn’t been finished yet. Roundhouse audiences will see an early stage version of it filled with some really amazing imagery and great dancing from our ten-strong company. The choreography is very tough, very physical, unlike any of our other repertoire. It’s very immediate and should be a visceral experience.

Young Men, is choreographed by Iván Pérez and is a response to a 14-18NOW commission commemorating the centenary of the start of World War I. War themes run throughout the piece – comradeship in the army, soldiers under pressure, a sense of what they went through and much more.

Keaton Henson has written a brand new score for Young Men; Keaton and Iván worked together sparking ideas off each other. It was the perfect creative experience for us – to have all that happening in our brand new studio was tremendously exciting. Keaton is known as a singer/songwriter and in this instance it’s going to be with a big orchestra and the music follows on the heels of his Romantic Works classical album. His close collaborators will also be performing with percussion and electronic elements; there are lots of soundscapes involved, beautiful tunes, amazing melodies.

So what’s next for BalletBoyz?
Throughout the madness of staging the Roundhouse performance we’ve been working on our next programme at the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House. It’s a triple bill with works by Christopher Wheeldon, Kristen McNally and Alex Whitley…and we open on September 16th!

Balletboyz – Serpent/Fallen and Young Men (excerpt).
Thursday 31 July – Saturday 2 August

Watch this video of BalletBoyz in rehearsal with Ivan Perez and Keaton Henson (starts at 2 minutes 50 seconds)

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