Boys Will Be BalletBoyz

The all-male troupe shows off muscles and moves at the Ahmanson Theatre this weekend
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BalletBoyz has never been to the West Coast before, let alone Los Angeles. But the ten-member modern dance company is arriving from the United Kingdom for three performances this Friday through Sunday at the Ahmanson Theatre. The male-only group, established in 2001 by former Royal Ballet dancers Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, will perform Liam Scarlett’s Serpent, set to the music of Max Richter, and Russell Maliphant’s Fallen, with music by Armand Amar. Company members have “great technique, an impressive physique, and all the usual things,” say the cofounders. “But we are not creating a perfect corps de ballet.” In an email interview we spoke with Nunn and Trevitt about their upcoming tour, and they answered jointly.

How would you describe these two pieces?
Serpent is a subtle, lyrical piece. Delicate and moving, it has many of thehallmarks of classical ballet but feels very contemporary. Fallen is quite different, moremasculine and demanding great strength and technique from the dancers. Itinvolves tremendous levels of trust as they climb high and tilt and fallin ever more thrilling directions.

What do you look for when selecting choreographers and their works to showcase?
It is always a challenge for choreographers working with us to avoid the obvious routes they might follow: overtly macho or high camp. So we are always looking for someone with a new idea, and that is what we saw in Liam Scarlett. His approach was to ignore (as far as possible) that the cast was all male and to simply create as he always would. For example, using two dancers to create a duet, and what happens is that within a few minutes you forget that there are no women in the cast. We have been working with Russell Maliphant for many years. We knew he would make something special for us, and he didn’t let us down, creating an unusual piece for him: large groups, unisons, and some unique duets.

What was your own artistic process like for this program?
We wanted to create a filmic, epic evening, and the combination of the choreography and the score both work together to that end. But what really draws everything together is the lighting by Michael Hulls. He is a longtime collaborator of ours, and he helped make two distinct halves to the show and yet maintain a common aesthetic throughout.

What are your inspirations, and what influences you artistically?
We often look to film and photography to find our inspiration, but that is really the start. Beyond that we are searching for combinations of creative artists. It is easy to get stuck in a pattern, but through these collaborations we hope to find ourselves following unexpected paths.

What impression do you hope to leave on L.A. audiences?
We like it when you like Act 1 and your friend liked Act 2. Then there follows a vigorous discussion, and eventually you realize you were both right. We want audiences to have a great night of entertainment and to spread the word. We want to share what we value with American audiences. We hope you like it.