20 April 2011 at 7.00pm | Comment on this article
The sun is out, all is well in Covent Garden, and the very charming Ballet Boyz have been spotted wielding High Definition cameras near Stage Door. We tracked them down to find out why.
It’s some 25 years since Ballet Boyz Michael Nunn and William Trevitt started out at the Royal Ballet School. Now after hanging up their ballet pumps as dancers, they are thriving as directors of an all-male dance/film company. They still frequent their alma mater from time to time, however. This month they’re making films to introduce the Royal Ballet’s production of Romeo and Juliet at The O2.
The Boyz are hard at work in the cavernous spaces of Opera Rehearsal Room One, putting dancers through their paces to the magnificent strains of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. They’re attempting to exactly synch up the bars of music to one long camera shot, describing moments in-between the scenes in Shakespeare’s tragic tale – such as Friar Laurence awaiting the lovers at his cell. These musical passages were originally penned by Prokofiev to fill scene-change time on stage. They were an anomaly for the O2 arena where the mechanics of stagecraft would have meant an overlong interlude on an empty stage.
This is where the Ballet Boyz come in: their dual knowledge of ballet and film allows them to make something balletic enough in character to keep the audience on the edge of their seat, still entranced by the tragic story. The Boyz' dramatized footage is to be timed to live music and must provide a smooth transition to enhance and illuminate the main action. It will be shown on three 10-metre wide screens around the arena, so is being filmed in High Definition revealing every nuance of the dancers’ movement, every swirl of smoke and light.
Nunn and Trevitt have never directed anything like this before. They know MacMillan’s ballet intimately, and aim to create the same theatrical atmosphere on film as on stage– hence the use of the one long shot, and of obvious stage props and scenery. In one scene, the live Juliet will run off stage, and reappear back stage (on the screens) for her quick change – ably assisted by her nurse in full costume. It is a neat splicing of the worlds of on stage/back stage, theatrical/cinematic. On the night, all will have to be timed to the split second; Music Director Barry Wordsworth who will be conducting, is primed to hold his orchestra steady to mellifluously segue from live to filmed action.
“This will be a very different ballet experience,” says Nunn. “It’s ballet for the cinema generation, perhaps. People are so good at reading the language of film and TV, but don’t know how to read ballet. Maybe this will help bridge the gap. This O2 production will be an epic experience. The sense of drama and intensity in that space will be like nothing else.”