“Everything is possible as long as you want to do it”
The Ballet Boys film (Director: Kenneth Elvebakk and Starring Lukas Bjørneboe Brændsrød, Syvert Lorenz Garcia and Torgeir Lund) follows three secondary school friends on their dance journey in Oslo, Norway. Along the way they face challenges through ballet auditions and competition pressures, to school, social and parental expectations. Although the boys’ bond is strong, it’s tested when one begins to chase a more ambitious path.
Part of the documentary’s charm lies in the different traits of the trio. Lukas is the most committed dancer, his quiet drive reflected in the development of his talent. Torgeir, the gentle giant, is modest in his abilities and uncertain about his future in dance. Syvert is also unsure, but as the joker of the pack, is an obvious showman.
With a 20-hour training schedule, the ballet boys are routinely asked to deal with grown-up demands. The film does well to remind us of their age, capturing their banter in the changing rooms, their awkwardness around the female dancers and being reluctantly woken up by their mums in the morning. However in competitions and auditions their maturity shines through; never seeking to rival each other, accepting that outcomes are based on their own ability and preparation. Mistakes and rejection were dealt with with inspiring stoicism as Torgeir notes, “Everything is possible as long as you want to do it.”
Torgeir’s mantra could not be truer to the film and to dance. Each time the boys reached a moment of doubt, it was their love of dance that pulled them through. It’s a joy of a film to watch as a result; you want to follow their story forever especially as these are only their fledgling years. Unfortunately the film only takes us to the first year of college, where we are left wondering if the friendship will survive. Luckily the live Q&A session with the boys and director after the film provided some reassurance.
Ballet Boys Q&A
So what’s life been like for the boys since the film? *Spoiler Alert* Lukas, in his final year at The Royal Ballet School clarifies that all of them are still “best friends”, even managing to train together in Oslo during holidays. Torgeir and Syvert too are still committed to their course at KhIO (Oslo National Academy of the Arts).
The audience also wanted to know the director’s motivations behind the film – Elvebakk was keen to make a youth film but it wasn’t until he “saw a performance by the Norwegian National Ballet and saw there were so many kids [in the audience]” that the idea was born. Particularly intrigued by the pressures boys face in the ballet world, Elvebakk embarked on filming a group of 6 boys a year earlier “but four of them dropped out of the school” due to peer pressure. Another sign of the gender gap in dance, and how remarkable the success rate of this trio has been.
Even how the boys entered the dance world is remarkable. Lukas started “in break dancing but I wanted to try a new style”, his mum found a ballet class which he reluctantly tried and loved. After winning joint first place at the Ursula Moreton Choreographic Competition this year, Lukas can thank his mum for that decision. Inspired by “MTV and Michael Jackson” Syvert always wanted to dance but it wasn’t until he was taken to his little sister’s ballet show that he got involved. It’s encouraging to see Syvert who in the film struggled with a sense of identity, be empowered by dance as he states, “you work for yourself”. Similarly Torgeir “always wanted to dance” so moved to Oslo to live with his Grandma to study.
A final cheeky question was asked – ‘will there be a Ballet Boys 2’ is met was with hopeful ambiguity. It would be great to see an ending to the trios (still) growing pains.
You can still catch Ballet Boys at Curzon Mayfair and The Institute of Contemporary Arts from 12 – 18 September
Film screened at Curzon Mayfair on 9 September.
by Alice Robotham