Born in St Helens, Merseyside, Ben Knapper started dancing at the age of fourteen at the Elizabeth Hill School of Dance. He recently completed his third and final year at the Rambert School of Ballet & Contemporary Dance achieving a first class bachelor of honours degree. During his time at Rambert Ben has worked with choreographers such as Richard Alston, Mark Baldwin and Ashley Page. Ben has also joined Rambert Dance Company on their spring and autumn tours performing A Linha Curva choreographed by Itzik Galilli.
How did you get into dance, was there a particular performance you saw that resonated with you?
I got into dance at my high school which offered GCSE dance and through this ended up joining the local ballet school. I was first introduced to contemporary dance by watching performances by Rambert Company and found Christopher Bruce’s work extremely engaging.
Can you tell us about your current show at the Vaudeville Theatre: Them/Us what can people expect?
Our current show Them/ Us is a double bill consisting of work choreographed by the BalletBoyz company and Christopher Wheeldon. It is a varied programme which portrays risk, entertainment and emotion. Audiences can expect excitement, a giant metal cube and colourful costumes.
What was it like collaborating on the show?
Collaborating was a very interesting process; we all learned a lot from one another’s way of working. It was really rewarding seeing our ideas go from studio to the stage. The piece ‘Them’ which we made became a varied piece of choreography which allowed everyone to contribute their ideas and styles.
Were you pleased with the result of Us as it started off as a 2-person piece choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon?
I think the ideas which were in the initial duet have grown through the piece’s development. The contrast between sections helps to really empathise with the two in the duet, and it’s a pleasure to perform.
How does it feel performing on the West End compared to Sadler’s Wells?
Sadler’s Wells has always been one of the homes for dance in the UK so it’s nice to bring contemporary dance to the West End. I think we might be the first dance show to be put on at the Vaudeville Theatre.
What can dance teach you about life?
Dance can teach you resilience, determination and how to work as part of a team. It can teach you to communicate clearly in so many ways. It shows us not to take things to seriously.
What’s next for the BalletBoyz?
You can catch BalletBoyz at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August!
Where has been your favourite place to perform on stage and why?
My favourite place where I have performed on stage is the Joyce Theatre in New York with our BalletBoyz show ‘Young Men’. Taking the show to New York was really exciting and having the opportunity to perform there was very special.
What is the most rewarding thing about your work?
Seeing how audiences are moved by our shows. Also, bringing our own choreography to the stage for ‘Them’ was a really special and unique moment for all of us.
Where can people follow your work on Twitter/Facebook/YouTube etc?
BalletBoyz presents Them/Us at the Vaudeville Theatre until 15 June, and at Edinburgh Festival, Underbelly from 31 July – 15 August.