World War I-Inspired Dance Film “Young Men” Commemorates the Great War's Centennial on Great Performances

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Young Men
Photo: Courtesy of Sophie Harris-Taylor

“Young Men” 
 Premieres Friday, April 7 at 9 p.m. on PBS
(Check your local listings)
 
           The internationally acclaimed, all-male dance company BalletBoyz is featured in the compelling narrative dance film "Young Men," which follows a group of young soldiers as they experience the indiscriminate brutality of warfare.

              Airing in commemoration of the centennial of World War I, the feature-length film was shot on location in Northern France. Based on a highly successful stage production that premiered at London's Sadler's Wells Theatre in January 2015 (and returned in October by popular demand), it is choreographed by Iván Pérez with a commissioned score by critically acclaimed recording artist, singer-songwriter Keaton Henson. The production was conceived by Artistic Directors Michael Nunn and William Trevitt who were formerly leading dancers with The Royal Ballet.

              Since forming their own company in 2001, they have built a reputation for bringing dance to the screen in a variety of innovative ways, winning an International Emmy, a Rose d'Or and a Golden Prague along the way.

 

               The narrative 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 locations and carefully choreographed dance to depict the devastation of a continent. The characters themselves remain ambiguous, representative of the experiences of young men of every nation as they struggle to maintain their humanity in an unending cycle of combat and death.  

              These young men succumb to the terror of their situation in a myriad of ways. War takes its mental and bodily toll on these comrades, as they struggle to survive one day's destruction, only to wake to another's mortal threats. A potent combination of music and choreography, the film is an immersive emotional journey into the reality facing young men at the extremes of human experience.

              For this project, the dancers did a lot of research. From books, from photographs as well as films from the Imperial War Museum Collection. We wanted them to portray these scenes of men at war in moments that will resonate across a landscape of all wars so to look at the experience of soldiers in general and to find details in the scenes that chime with what we know now.

                     Cast: Andrea Carrucciu, Simone Donati, Flavien Esmieu, Marc Galvez, Elizabeth McGorian, Oxana Panchenko, Edward Pearce, Leon Poulton, Harry Price, Matthew Rees, Matthew Sandiford, Bradley Waller, and Jennifer White.