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Ballet Boyz inspiring buzz

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Courtesy Hugo GlendinningBritish contemporary dance company Ballet Boyz make their Aspen debut with performances Thursday and Friday at the Aspen District Theatre.
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ASPEN ” When William Trevitt turned 30, he began to see the end of his career as a ballet dancer not too many years in the distance.

Trevitt began to ask himself how he wanted to spend those final dancing years, whether he wanted to continue performing the time-worn classics such as “Swan Lake” and “Sleeping Beauty” that he had danced for 12 years with Britain’s Royal Ballet.

The answer was an emphatic “no.”



If someone as committed to dance as Trevitt, who spent seven years as a student at the Royal Ballet before his 12-year tenure, was worn out on the grand ballet masterpieces, how must they look to the person with only a passing interest in dance? Intimidating and impenetrable, he figured.

So Trevitt and Michael Nunn, a fellow lead dancer with the Royal Ballet, took their leave from the company and set out to make the most inviting, most audience-friendly troupe they could imagine. For the company name, they took their respective middle names, and in 2001, formed George Piper Dances.



For a company looking for total accessibility, it was a poor choice of name: “People were expecting a Scottish pipe band,” Trevitt said.

Virtually everything else, however, they seem to have gotten right. Now known as the Ballet Boyz, the company has become known for taking contemporary dance to the people.

“The main aim was to take contemporary dance to as many people as possible,” said Trevitt, speaking from Denver. “Not by doing dumbed-down versions, but to find the most interesting choreographers, and package it in as easy a way as possible.”

Ballet Boyz seems to be hitting their mark with both ends of the audience. On the mass-appeal side, the company has become known throughout Britain, thanks to its regular appearances on Channel 4, one of the country’s major commercial TV outlets. At the upper end of the dance world, they recently made their debut at the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow dance festival in Massachusetts, where, Trevitt reports, their appearance was well-received.

Trevitt and Nunn had a leg up in their quest for mass popularity by establishing a TV presence while still in the Royal Ballet. While the Royal Ballet’s home venue, the Royal Opera House, was under renovation, Channel 4 did an ongoing show that focused on the two dancers during the tumultuous time. The program was successful enough that Trevitt and Nunn have been featured in further series ” “Ballet Boyz,” “Ballet Boyz 2,” “The Rough Guide to Choreography” ” and several dance-related films, including one about the Bolshoi Ballet that aired last Christmas.

“You’d describe our on-screen persona as very ordinary guys ” who happen to do this unusual job,” Trevitt said. “We take you behind the scenes of how to make a dance, and that gives people more insight into the performance.”

For its latest tour, which comes to Aspen Thursday and Friday at the Aspen District Theatre as part of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s Summer Dance Series, Ballet Boyz aim to make dance even more accessible. The tour is titled “Greatest Hits,” and includes fan favorites from the past seven years: a tango; a work by Rafael Bonachela, who has done choreography for singers Tina Turner and Kylie Minogue; and a dance titled “Broken Fall,” which Trevitt describes as “very physical, very daring ” somewhere between dangerous and breaking someone’s fall.”

Dropping names of pop stars, pitching themselves on television, offering the possibility of broken limbs ” Ballet Boyz will do most anything to entice viewers into the dance theater.

“Our aim is, when people decide to have a go at contemporary dance, we want to be the people they try with,” Trevitt said.

stewart@aspentimes.com


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