Michael Nunn and William Trevitt went from Royal Ballet dancers to Officers of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire after they became artistic directors of their own dance company, BalletBoyz, in 2001. The 10-male dancer dance group, which blends classical and contemporary influences, brings their touring show, "theTALENT 2016," to Boston's Shubert Theatre this Friday and Saturday as part of this season's Celebrity Series Dance performances.
Tell me about BalletBoyz — what makes it unique?
William Trevitt: What makes it unique I think is the history behind it. Michael and I did 12 years in a major ballet company, the Royal Ballet in London, and decided that we were interested in learning about other forms of dance. So we spent a long time ourselves working in contemporary dance and learning new styles and so on.
All of that feeds into what we’re looking for when we commission choreographers, what we’re looking for when we hire dancers, and it really comes down to [working with] versatile artists. Plus it’s an all male group, which is quite unusual.
How did you diverge from your classical ballet background?
Michael Nunn: I suppose it was that contemporary choreographers always found it very interesting to work with classical dancers and we found it very interesting to work with contemporary choreographers. I think we tried to balance that as much as we can in this company.
In the program that we’re bringing to America this week it’s very much a contemporary half and more of a classical half. It’s Alexander Whitley's “The Murmuring” to start with and then Christopher Wheeldon’s “Mesmerics” as the second half.
What do you work on when you’re not so focused on BB?
MN: We both have a very keen interest in film and television. When we’re not in the studio with the boys or focusing on the artistic program of the company we are making films, predominantly about dance and about theater. We’ve just finished our first feature film – it’s in production at the moment. So that’s taking up a lot of our time. We’re planning another couple of movies spanning the next six years.
What can audiences expect from “theTALENT” tour?
WT: It’s show of two halves. It starts with a more contemporary feel to the show. There [are] themes you can read into it, and it’s very physical, very masculine, I think. The second half is much more kind of lyrical, poetic, it’s abstract – you’re able to sit back, and in fact the choreographer says at one point, ‘You don’t have to know the story, you don’t have to read the book, just sit back and enjoy.’ Or not.
MN: What we want the audience to get is to have some fun and enjoy the show. We’re not teaching anybody anything. It should be about going to the theater and getting something from it.
MN: Entertainment — that’s quite a dirty word in the contemporary art world, but we like to use it, because it annoys people.
Why do you have a focus on entertainment?
MN: I think most art is entertaining. You don’t have to sit there and have belly laughs for it to be entertaining, obviously. There’s a certain amount of contemporary art where it’s a big secret, and only people in the know understand what’s going on. I think you need to come to our performances and know you’re going to have a good time. We take our work very seriously, but there’s an edge to it – you need to enjoy yourself and have fun. I hope.
If you go:
Celebrity Series Presents BalletBoyz
Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 30 at 8 p.m.
265 Tremont Street, Boston