Interview with a BalletBoy
"This show is very different to anything else we’ve done before"
I always thought professional dancers had to be majestically leaping about from the day they were born, which is nearly the case for some members of the ten-strong BalletBoyz who were dancing age three, but not for Bradley Waller: he didn’t start until he was 16.
“I went through the whole of school never doing dance, I was initially going to get into media,” Bradley says, “and then I suddenly started going to a local dance class with my sister, and I just kept going with it. Before I knew it, dance was something I wanted to do for a career. Now I wish I had started younger.”
When he started dancing he hid the fact from the other boys at school. “I thought they would poke fun and laugh at it, so I kept it a secret.” But it’s hard to keep something under wraps forever; however the reaction to Bradley’s extra-curricular activity was not what he expected. “They were so supportive,” he says of his friends, “all of them, and we’re talking about rugby players and the like. They loved it if anything; they thought it was amazing I’d done something so different.”
“Is dance a form of escape?” I ask.
“It’s one of those things where, no matter what’s going on in your personal life, once you get into the studio it somehow just gets you away from it all – it cuts you away from everything else,” he replies.
In some cases the dancer might have felt cut away in a slightly more literal sense. “In my first season with BalletBoyz we did a performance at Latitude Festival which was an amazing experience,” he recalls. “The stage was floating in the middle of a lake. You get used to performing in theatres with the audience in one place, here they were all around the stage, throwing a whole different dynamic on the show – you could never let your guard down.”
Not that I’m fully clued up on the logistic plans for BalletBoyz’ appearance at New Theatre Oxford in May, but I’m guessing the stage won’t be floating. But enough of what we won’t see…what can we expect from this production entitled ‘Life’?
“The most important thing is to come in with your guard down and just let it move you in whatever way it might,” Bradley advises. “The evening consists of two works choreographed by two different people. Each choreographer is very different to the other so their takes on life are obviously completely different. This show is very different to anything else we’ve done before, even in regards to costume and music – it’s all very new to us.”
In a live comedy show you can assess how well you’re going down there and then based on whether the audience are laughing or not; as a musician an enthusiastic sea of waving hands before you might give you some idea; how do you judge it in a dance show?
“It’s strange,” Bradley says, “you can kind of feel the audience when you’re on stage, it creates an atmosphere, it encourages you to keep going.”
I wondered how diverse these audiences are. “One of the best things for BalletBoyz is our target audience is everybody. I think that’s very rare in productions. Normally when I go to the theatre I look around and there’s a particular type of audience. But our audiences are made up of people from very different backgrounds, and very different age groups.”
'Life' comes to New Theatre Oxford on 13th May.
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