Boyz and Guillem come out to play

Michael Nunn, William Trevitt and the incomparable Sylvie are set to thrill at Sadler's Wells
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The Independent Culture

Sylvie Guillem, superstar dancer, recently strained a tendon in her left ankle. The Royal Opera House had to cancel its Stories of Love and Passion season. But, Michael Nunn (half of the Ballet Boyz), who spoke to her last week, says she's "much better. We should be going into rehearsals with her next week." Nunn and William Trevitt will dance with her in an evening of work by the choreographer Russell Maliphant at Sadler's Wells.

Sylvie Guillem, superstar dancer, recently strained a tendon in her left ankle. The Royal Opera House had to cancel its Stories of Love and Passion season. But, Michael Nunn (half of the Ballet Boyz), who spoke to her last week, says she's "much better. We should be going into rehearsals with her next week." Nunn and William Trevitt will dance with her in an evening of work by the choreographer Russell Maliphant at Sadler's Wells.

The Boyz, both former Royal Ballet principals, became famous from their four-part video diary, Ballet Boyz, on Channel 4 in 1998. Nunn's first memory of dancing with Guillem was when they were both with the Royal Ballet: "She was dancing Manon, and I was one of the boys holding her up." Nunn and Trevitt left the Royal Ballet in 1999 and formed George Piper Dances in 2001.

Here, Guillem and the Boyz are reunited in Maliphant's acclaimed Broken Fall, premiered at Covent Garden last year. Guillem also dances Two, a solo Maliphant created for his wife and reworked for Guillem.

The duet Torsion, created for the Ballet Boyz by Maliphant 18 months ago, makes the most of the remarkable chemistry between the two men. The Boyz first worked with Maliphant when they were forced to learn sections of his Critical Mass from video. "Russell didn't want us to have his work, because we were ballet dancers," Nunn says. But persistence paid off: "Once we learnt it from the video, we invited him in. Although it was pretty rough, there was something there."

The three clicked. "We had the same background. Russell was originally a ballet dancer, and he understood our hunger to try something different," Nunn says. Then the Ballet Boyz asked Maliphant to create a work for them. "That's how Torsion happened."

Guillem came to watch their first performance of Torsion at The Place. "Sylvie goes to see quite a lot of ballet," Nunn says. "She came backstage and said it was one of the best things she had ever seen. She wanted to work with Russell and us."

Torsion is constantly evolving. "There's a solo for Billy that came about because I stubbed my toe on his ankle in rehearsal. I had to sit down for a couple of days."

Is Broken Fall, with Guillem, dangerous to dance? "It's the most dangerous piece I've ever done," Nunn says. "There is something different about dancing in a pair. Billy and I know each other very well, but when you put a third person in the mix, it gets more difficult." Any slippery moments? "If Billy has Sylvie above his head and he's throwing her to me, it is not always the same as before, it's when he thinks it is right. Hopefully, I am mentally connected and catch her," Nunn says. "A few times I have caught her by her knees rather than her waist, because she flew past me. If I miss her, she is not going to bounce up again for a while."

Sylvie Guillem and the Ballet Boyz: an evening of work by Russell Maliphant, Sadler's Wells, London EC1 (0870 737 7737; www.sadlerswells.com) 28 September to 2 October

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