Well, at least in the UK. So says Rupert Christiansen of the Telegraph today in a piece announcing the Talent tour – eight exceptionally talented young men of the Balletboyz making eleven public appearances around Britton.

Balletboyz, founded in 2001 by Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, has made a dramatic mark on the British dance scene. It has thrilled audiences and dance critics alike with its exhilarating mix of award winning repertoire, performance style, and high artistic standards. Both Michael and William are former lead dancers with the Royal Ballet, and provided Ballet Magazine an interview back in 2001.

Here’s Christiansen’s post that I find mildly amusing:

The new recruits to ballet’s boot camp

It’s teenage boys, not girls, who are getting the ballet bug.

Ballet used to be the dream of little girls who had seen The Red Shoes and loved all things pink and pretty. Margot Fonteyn and Moira Shearer were their role models, and a diamante-sprinkled tutu and pointe shoes was their favourite outfit.

No longer: it’s now the case, confirmed by the statistics of examining bodies such as the Royal Academy of Dance, that girls tend to drop out of ballet class at about 11, and shimmying like Britney Spears becomes their ruling passion. Fewer and fewer female British teenagers are prepared to endure the military discipline of advanced ballet training – today’s stars largely come from Slavic and Hispanic cultures.

But there’s good news on the other side. More and more teenage boys think that dancing seriously, if not classically, is supercool. It’s not effete, it’s not wimpy. Michael Jackson, Carlos Acosta, Billy Elliot and a variety of highly athletic and energised contemporary idioms, usually encountered through music videos, get their testosterone going. The physicality and team spirit make dance something analogous to competitive sport, and schools are being canny about picking out nifty backflippers in the gym and nudging them into a dance class (often called something else).

The only problem is that lads tend to get the bug when they’re about 15, too late to put their musculature through the full ballet training which remains the best way to develop sound technique. The result is a generation of male dancers whose style is macho Gene Kelly, rather than elegant Fred Astaire.

Another formative influence on our young male dancers is the Balletboyz, otherwise known as Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, the former Royal Ballet stars who formed the group in 1999. Nunn and Trevitt are visibly and audibly regular guys. Married with children, they radiate a likeably lippy attitude and boast an impressive second string to their dancing as accomplished makers of dance films and documentaries. Even more importantly, primarily through their performance of Russell Maliphant’s enthralling duet Torsion, they have popularised the idea of men dancing with an intense physical intimacy that doesn’t automatically radiate homoerotic overtones.

Now that they’re turning 40, they have done a magnificent thing in handing the torch to an all-male company of eight dancers, aged 18-24, which will be touring Britain this month under the Balletboyz flag. The newcomers are at the beginning of their careers and come from a wide range of backgrounds.
Nunn and Trevitt emphasise the educational aspect of the plan. The newcomers are being groomed to perform at the highest level, working with top-class choreographers but also learning about ballet studio-etiquette and sensible care of their bodies. In a manner similar to Venezuela’s El Sistema, they will soon be passing this wisdom on by leading a programme of dance workshops in secondary schools.

This second generation of Balletboyz are living and rehearsing in hothouse Big Brother conditions at a dance centre in Hampshire. Some of them were bad lads or “rubbish” at school, but dance has focused their energies, given them self-control, purpose and joy. Their motivation to excel is high, and they seem to thrive on the relentless routine and discipline commanded by Nunn and Trevitt. “It doesn’t matter how much Mike and Billy shout at us,” one newcomer told me. “We still love them. The abuse they hurl at us is good abuse.”

The message might be: do put your son into ballet class, Mrs Worthington. But what can we do to lure your daughter back?”

🙂 :: Balletboyz Blog :: Telegraph.co.uk

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