INTERVIEW | Will Bozier on taking the Swan in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake.

You'll know that recently I saw Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at the Curve Theatre in Leicester and was astounded by this remarkable production of dance. The production from Matthew Bourne gave us an important shift in the dance world. A retelling of a Tchaikovsky's classical ballet which can be retold, re-interpreted and enjoyed just as much. Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake allowed new audiences to access ballet/contemporary in a way that still as exciting now in 2018 as it was back when it first premiered in 1995. 

The production doesn't stray away from the essential themes in the Tchaikovsky classic, Bourne makes it bolder and heartbreaking in this tale of a Prince that longs to escape his royal responsibility. He craves the love and attention from his frosty mother and is haunted by visions of gathering swans.


The most iconic of roles in the production is that of the Swan. It's the most unforgettable performance of the night and the individual who grasps your every inch of attention throughout.  So I was delighted when I got the opportunity to chat with one of the men behind the Swan in the UK Tour, Will Bozier.

"The New Adventures company holds a big emphasis on both the dancing and acting as an equal bringing each story to life." 

William is one of the Principal Dancers with Matthew Bourne's New Adventures company and has been with the company for four years. New Adventures is a fantastic ballet/contemporary dance company based in the UK who perform worldwide as well as right here in Britain. "Some of Matthew's work includes reimagined productions of; Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Cinderella and Swan Lake. Alongside this, the company produce original works and adaptations of famous films such as The Red Shoes and Edward Scissorhands, brought to life on stage", Will explains, "The New Adventures company holds a big emphasis on both the dancing and acting as an equal bringing each story to life". 

As one of the companies Principal Dancers, Will has worked his way up from an ensemble member and covered different principal roles before becoming a principal. "I found out about the company from a very young age. One of my first memories was seeing Adam Cooper in Billy Elliot, where he runs across the stage and does a massive jump at the end of the film, in the New Adventures version of Swan Lake". It's from that moment that Will wanted to know more about this company "I remember asking my mum who is he? What company is this and how do I get there?".

"What company is this and how do I get there?"
William Bozier is now the person that many young aspiring male dancers will look up as he takes on the Swan role for himself. Swan Lake is an iconic piece of Bourne's work and as Will explains "we re-staged the show in five weeks to get it up and running. During this period the men have two weeks on their own for the Swan acts specifically before the women join". William says that "altogether I had 6 weeks to recreate the role of the Swan/Stranger. The choreography is pretty much the same as it has been in the past, bar a few personal changes as Matt likes us to develop the character as our own". 


The production first premiered in 1995 and has given inspiration to several generations of young male dancers since. Stepping into the iconic role of the Swan must be pretty scary then! "There have been some amazing men who have performed this role and there are some pretty big shoes to fill" Will explains, "For me, Adam Cooper (the original Swan in 1995) has always been my inspiration for dancing this role. Seeing him at such a young age really inspired me to want to dance. I watched his performance on repeat for years". He noted that one of the most important parts of recreating the Swan for himself was to "bring as much of his swan into it as possible as well as making it my own". 

"The great thing about having so many different dancers perform the role is that they all inspire you in a different way. Everyone who has performed the role had their own unique style which made them all great". 
For those who have seen the production, it's pretty full on! The energy throughout the piece never loses steam and there's clearly a lot of hard work in the wings to be able to execute the technique. To prepare for their show every night "we have a ballet or contemporary class every day which helps us warm up and keep on top of our technique. Before the show, I also like to do a ballet barre just to make sure I am extra warm for the show. I also like to go to the gym and do Pilates on my down time just to keep myself as fit as possible". Will also goes on to say that he understands the importance of chill time and it takes him around an hour and a half to get ready for the role. "At around five-minute call, a lady from the wigs department comes to finish off my make up and check all is ok. I then go to the stage to say hello to everyone and wish them for the performance". Then it's left to the cast to do their thing whilst Will does a ballet barre and awaits his first entrance. 

So what is Will Bozier's favourite part about the playing the Swan/Stranger? "I think my favourite part has to be the difference between the characters. The Swan is wild and free, the stranger is dark and mysterious. Trying to make them as different as possible."


This new production of Swan Lake has had a bit of a tweak to give it a real new feel about it but is great for those who love the piece dearly and are delighted it's on our stages again (I know I'm not alone in this!). Will says it's been great to be a part of the remodelling of such an iconic production, "It has been nice to take the show and shake it up a bit. Adding to the genius of what has already got an amazing legacy and saying I was a part of this amazing creation."

There are some fantastic moments in the production, it's hard to choose those which resonate and stick with you but for Will "I think it has to be the swan acts" Will says, "They are just so iconic. When you watch the show you are on the edge of your seat waiting for those magical creatures to come on the stage." 

"I love the wildness of the Swan. Swans are beautiful characters who can be very protective of their own and will attack if you are too close. I like to make the stranger as mysterious as possible."

You do not want to miss William Bozier or the just as amazing Max Westwell undertake the role of The Swan/Stranger in the UK Tour. You can find out information on where to see Swan Lake on its tour here.

You can read my 5* review of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake here too!

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