Yes, Balanchine famously once said “ballet is woman.” But this Saturday, it will be emphatically male – as Britain’s famed BalletBoyz make their Miami debut at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center. (Together with France’s Compagnie Herve Koubi at the Olympia Theater downtown, it makes for a feast of masculine dance sensation in South Florida. Too bad both troupes are performing the same night.)
Founded in 2000 by Royal Ballet principal dancers Michael Nunn and William Trevitt (both OBE, thank you), the company has become renowned for its combination of serious artistry and shrewd cultural instincts (not to mention the perpetual allure of hunky muscular guys who can do jaw-dropping stuff.) “Adrenaline rush” “Greek gods” “viscerally thrilling” are some of the ways that the British press has described them.
They commission major choreographers to do cutting edge works that explore profound themes – male identity, the nature of balance and dependence. Their South Dade show features Serpent, from Liam Scarlett, (the Royal Ballet choreographer whose 2012 ballet Viscera for Miami City Ballet was one of the company’s most riveting works), and Fallen, from Russell Maliphant, a contemporary dancemaker who’s worked with the likes of Lyon Opera Ballet and Sylvie Guillem and whom the Daily Mail called “Britain’s leading modern dance creator.”
But Nunn and Trevitt have also produced numerous ballet documentaries for television, and do lots of outreach and education projects. As Judith Mackrell, the veteran, superbly articulate dance critic for The Guardian, observed last fall. “They’ve never been less than committed to deepening the artistry of their male dancers, but they understand the marketing power of the clever concept and the rogue collaboration.”
This may be the #MeToo moment. But that also makes this a good time to re-think how we see and feel about masculinity: its appeal, vulnerability, sensuality, and strength. They may be called Ballet Boyz, but these dancers are certainly men.
Ballet Boyz performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211 St, Cutler Bay. Tickets are $25-$45 at SMDCAC.org or 786-573-5300.