Classical ballet goes cutting-edge with the maverick talents of Britain’s George Piper Dances, aka Ballet Boyz, which will make its St. Louis debut later this month at Edison Theatre.
The performances here — at 8 p.m. Feb. 20-21 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 22 — are part of the Boyz’s first-ever U.S. tour and are sponsored by Dance St. Louis and the Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series.
Described by The Daily Telegraph as “Britain’s most off-the-wall ballet dancers,” company founders Michael Nunn and William Trevitt were among a group of male dancers who left London’s Royal Ballet in 1999 to work in Japan with Tetsuyo Kumakawa and his “K Ballet.”
Their adventures, illusions and disillusions were the basis for a series of film diaries shown on Britain’s Channel 4, which captivated the public’s attention by demystifying the lives of classical dancers. They quickly became known throughout the United Kingdom as the Ballet Boyz.
Nunn and Trevitt launched George Piper Dances in January 2001, taking the company’s name from their respective middle names. The troupe took London by storm, combining commissioned works with pieces by some of today’s most influential choreographers.
In 2003, they received the Theatrical Managers’ Association award for “Outstanding Achievement in Dance.”
The program will begin with Steptext (1985) by William Forsythe, the New York-born director of Ballet Frankfurt. Laura Shapiro of the New York Metro describes Steptext as a piece of broken lines and angles “set to a somewhat deranged version of a Bach violin solo with occasional lonely squawks breaking moments of silence.”
Mesmerics (2003) — by Christopher Wheeldon, resident choreographer of the New York City Ballet — is a sequence of sensual duets for the full company of five dancers. The piece is based on the rising and falling movements of waves and is set to a kaleidoscope of string quartet music by Philip Glass.
The final work on the program, Torsion, is a duet created for Nunn and Trevitt by British choreographer Russell Maliphant. The work is a virtuoso exploration of the tensions and twists of meanings in a male partnership, filled with curving intertwinings, locking holds and breathtaking lifts. Torsion is set to an electronic score by Richard English.
Nunn, a native of London, joined the Royal Ballet in 1987 and was promoted to first soloist in 1997. Trevitt, born in Cambridge, also joined the Royal Ballet in 1987 and became a principal dancer in 1994.
Their fellow dancers are an international trio from prestigious classical ballet companies. Hubert Essakow, from Johannesburg, South Africa, is another former soloist with the Royal Ballet.
Monica Zamora, a native of Spain, is a former principal dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet. Oxana Panchenko of Kiev, Ukraine, is a former soloist with English National Ballet and has performed solo and principal roles with Munich Ballet and City Ballet of London.
Tickets are $28 for adults; $23 for students, seniors and WUSTL faculty and staff; and $14 for WUSTL students. Tickets are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office, 935-6543; the Dance St. Louis Box Office, 534-6622; and all MetroTix outlets.
For more information, call 935-6543.
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