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 Post subject: Ballet Boyz II
PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2001 8:22 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
'The boyz are back in town. Teddy Kumakawa's breakaway from the Royal Ballet shook the dance world. But as Jann Parry reports, two bright new companies have emerged from the defections.'<P>Well one very successful company and an embryonic company. Two of the ex-RB dancers Nunn and trevitt are trying to set up their own high quality ballet/modern company. It's a tricky thing to do in the UK, but I wish them all the best.<P>The article is prompted by the second short TV series that Nunn and Trevitt have made. The first covered their final months at the RB. <P>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Boyz II
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2001 12:25 am 
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'And then there were two In 1998, six of the Royal Ballet's male stars left to form the pioneering K Ballet. Two of them - Michael Nunn and William Trevitt - tell Ismene Brown how their optimism turned sour.'<P>There is also some discussion about their new venture in cutting edge ballet. I shall certainly go and see it, but I have to say that the UK is not a strong place for cutting edge dance audiences. It's one of those occasions when I really hope I'm wrong! <P><BR><A HREF="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=000148269364269&rtmo=kCoZkCLp&atmo=99999999&pg=/et/01/1/23/btballet.html" TARGET=_blank><B>Ismene Brown's article</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Boyz II
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2001 7:01 am 
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On BBC Radio 4 today the ex-RB dancer Michael Nunn was on a chat show to talk about the two recent TV 'fly on the wall' documentaries made by him and his friend William Trevitt. These cover the final stages of their time at the RB (Ballet Boyz) and their time in the K-Ballet Company (Ballet Boyz II) and also to publicise his next project. I saw most of the original RB series, but not the one-off K ballet programme. I've written up the main points from his interview below.<P>Nunn came to dance late and almost by accident. When he was 15 he was wandering around London and saw a queue of children outside a theatre. He learned that they were waiting for an audition for 'The Sound of Music' and eventually joined the queue and ended up on stage. He ended up getting down to the last 7 and decided that he really liked the stage atmosphere.<P>When he got an application form for a stage school, there was a section about dance exams taken, so he enrolled in a class. At first he took tap and had no intention of doing ballet. However, he watched a ballet class while waiting for another class and thought he would try it. He found it tough and his teacher gave him a hard time. He auditioned for the Royal Ballet School and failed to get in, but succeeded on the second attempt. There he found that he was better than he thought and that he had compressed 6 years training into 18 months.<P>Having joined the RB, he loved working with Kenneth MacMillan, but some of the magic went out of the experience for him when the great choreographer died. [Stuart adds Nunn is a fine dancer and was highly respected at the Royal Ballet. He has an elegant and lean style and has strong partnering skills. At the end of his time at the RB he was a First Soloist and Trevitt was a Principal.] The loss of MacMillan, the problems with the closure for renovation of the ROH and the repeated financial crises eventually persuaded him to look around for other opportunities. <P>Teddy Kumakawa, an amazing RB soloist but rather short for danseur noble roles, decided to cash in on his pop star popularity in Japan to form his own Company around himself and 5 other top male dancers from the RB. They use a Japanese corps and invite top ballerinas like Viviana Durante. Nunn described how it was very much a collective enterprise in its early stages and that he thought of the name K Ballet and carried out a lot of the administration. He really enjoyed having control over what they were doing, which contrasted with the RB where the fact that they had been known to the management from their school days meant that they were often treated like children. <P>K Ballet was like nothing he had experienced before. They were promoted by a company that specialised in rock bands and their audience was mainly young women aged between 15 and 25. Rather than a leisurely chat at the RB stage door with a few fans, in Japan they had to be whisked from the stage door to cars to avoid injury. On one occasion, he wound down a window to shake hands with a fan, who promptly fainted. <P>However, the fun didn't last. The film, which I missed, shows them trailing miserably round a rainy Japan. Remember that the RB does very little touring in this country now. Regarding his exit, it is clear that contractual arrangements mean that Nunn will only say that he left because of 'artistic differences'. Reading between the lines, however, the main problem seems to have been that the idolatry of Kumakawa by his fans went to his head (it's fair to say that he has never underrated his own abilities) and the Company became completely dominated by the Japanese star. In the film I understand that when, due to injury, Trevitt stood in for him in Petit's 'Carmen', Kumakawa apologised to the audience and offered to shake hands with everyone in the audience as compensation. In addition, Japanese audiences prefer the classical rep., which was not the initial concept for the Company and Nunn was very disappointed to be performing lollipops most of the time.<P>He and Trevitt are now back in the UK and have formed their own Company, George Piper Dancers, based on their middle names. They feel that there is a gap in the market between the large, inflexible ballet companies and the small, usually contemporary dance groups. They plan to have a medium-sized company performing experimental, classically based work. In the articles linked above, choreographers such as Russell Maliphant, Michael Clarke and NDT's Paul Lightfoot are mentioned as possibilities for the Company. They will certainly not be focussing on one dancer!<P>For me, the new company is certainly an exciting prospect and I will definitely go to see them. He is right that there is a gap in the UK that is occupied in the US by companies such as Maximum Dance or Diablo and it occurs to me that there may be some mileage in these two companies talking to the Ballet Boyz about sharing rep. However, the audience for modern dance in the UK is small and this sort of hybrid work often appears in venues, which take 150-300 people. There is also the risk that Baryshnikov's White Oak face in this country - people turn up and then moan that it's not classical ballet. It's not going to be easy for George Piper Dancers, but the TV exposure could make a critical difference. I really, really hope so.<BR> <BR><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited January 31, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Boyz II
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2001 6:20 pm 
Thanks Stuart for summarising the radio interview for the benefit of overseas readers.


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