The internationally acclaimed, all-male dance company BalletBoyz is to present their first ever full length feature film, Young Men. BalletBoyz, renowned for their use of film and technology in their performance work, will be the first ever dance company to release a feature length film. Beautifully shot and deeply moving, it follows a group of young soldiers as they experience the indiscriminate brutality of warfare. Commissioned by the BBC, Young Men was shot on location in northern France in 2015 and a 60 minute TV version will be premiere on BBC2 later this year, ahead of the release of the 72 minute feature film. The film is part of 14-18 NOW, the UK-wide arts programme for the centenary of the First World War.
The film is directed by BalletBoyz Artistic Directors Michael Nunn OBE and William Trevitt OBE who are making their feature film debut with the piece, and the score has been composed by critically acclaimed singer songwriter Keaton Henson. Nunn, Trevitt and Henson worked closely to develop a visual language and musical style which simultaneously examines the experience of soldiers during a brutal and relentless war and the wider themes of conflict.
Young Men follows a young solider and his squadron’s experience of basic training, combat, and ultimately, the destruction of modern warfare. The film is shot without words, instead using the set and carefully choreographed dance to depict the devastation of a continent. The design, set and costume of Young Men is strongly evocative of World War One, whilst the characters themselves remain ambiguous, representative of the experiences of young men of every nation. The dancers, all who are members of the BalletBoyz ten-strong Company, are largely just of conscription age.
Michael Nunn and William Trevitt said of Young Men: “As we watched the show for the stage being created in the studio and performed on stage we became aware that here were characters and choreography that demanded both the scale and intimacy that only film can bring. We were determined to bring this particular story to the big screen.”
Jan Younghusband, Head of Music TV Commissioning, said “Mike and Billy are talented dancers and film-makers who bring a unique and entertaining perspective to dance and ballet. The BBC loves to work with artists to create original TV that puts them and their art-form centre stage, so I was delighted to commission their first full length feature film. Young Men is an exciting new departure into dramatic story-telling in dance. Filmed entirely on location, it is a moving and harrowing insight into war, and the power of dance to express the world when words are not enough.”
Originally conceived as a stage show and subsequently choreographed by Ivan Perez, Young Men received its world premiere at London’s Sadler’s Wells in January 2015 where it played to sold out houses, returning again in October 2015 due to popular demand. The soundtrack for the film has been recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Young Men is co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund and by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
You can watch the film’s trailer below:
Find out more about Young Men here.