Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – Programme Two

Le Lac des Cygnes
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Music
(After) Lev Ivanov – Choreography
Mike Gonzales – Costumes
Jason Courson –Décor
Kip Marsh – Lighting

Grand pas Classique pas de deux
François Auber – Music
(After) Viktor Gsovsky
Mike Gonzales – Costumes

Pas d’action from Harlequinade
Riccardo Drigo – Music
(After) Marius Petipa; staged by Elena Kunikova – ChoreographyChristopher Anthony Vergara – Costumes
Kip Marsh – Décor and Lighting

Le Corsaire pas de deux
Riccardo Drigo – Music
(After) Vakhtang Chabukiani – Choreography
Mike Gonzales – Costumes

Walpurgisnacht
Charles Gounod – Music
Elena Kunikova after Leonid Lavrovsky – Choreography
Christopher Anthony Vergara – Music
Kip Marsh – Décor
Jax Messenger – Lighting

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo


Reviewed by: G. J. Dowler

Reviewed: 23 September, 2010
Venue: Peacock Theatre, London

The boys are back in town – the cross-dressing danseurs who like nothing better than donning a tutu and hoicking themselves up on pointe. Of course, the camp comedy that suffuses their presentation of great classics of the ballet repertoire (and not a few hidden gems) merely serves to leaven the seriousness with which these irrepressible artists take their craft. They train and do class as seriously as any other professional dancers, and strive equally for technical perfection. The joy is they have big personalities, which is something often lacking in the faintly dull, lean thoroughbreds which are the majority of today’s classical ballet dancers, but which used to charcterise the art form when technical perfection was not as high up on anyone’s agenda as it is today. They clearly love their craft, reveling in the ridiculousness of what is, even in ‘straight’ ballet performances, only a hair’s breadth away. We know that hatreds and rivalries exist among dancers, that some are silly, feckless, lightweight, heavyweight…it is the Trocks that bring this to the fore and let us glory in it all.

Their seriousness extends to repertoire too, meaning that if you want to see Gsovsky’s Grand pas Classique or a version of Petipa’s Harlequinade, you simply have to see a transvestite troupe from New York do it, because no other classical companies seem to be in the least bit interested, obsessed as they are with bland posturing and hyper-extensions rather than character and joyous dancing.

However, the Trocks are also treading a dangerous path: as their own technical prowess seems to increase at every return visit, company dancers now feel confident enough to essay the big male roles as well as emulating pirouetting ballerinas, hence both male roles in the two pas de deux were presented pretty much as choreographed. No mugging here, just plain dancing, which in a way defeats the point of the Trocks – they are there to make us laugh at ballet and all its trappings, to marvel at times at their sheer technical virtuosity (in female roles), but the stark fact remains that one of their number performing the male role in Le Corsaire pas de deux is never going to be as good as a star principal in a world-class ballet company.

The difference between the ‘old’ Trocks and the ‘new’ was highlighted in this second programme. Their delicious send up of Swan Lake Act II, with silly swans, a tiny Benno and an at times butch, at times prettily demure Odette is vintage Trocks in every way – we have seen it many times before, but it bears repeated viewings , not least in the bickering swans in their ensemble dances (Giovanni Ravelo delighting as the flightiest and ditsiest of swan maidens). Crowning it all is Robert Carter’s Odette, looking like Eartha Kitt on pointe, perhaps a little more solid in silhouette than in seasons past, but still ‘mistress’ of the turns and spins. His characterisation and facial expressions are worth the price of entry alone. He made a delicious Bacchante in the company’s new Walpurgisnacht, in which I could not help detect distinct nods to Frederick Ashton’s Sylvia, now in the repertoire of American ballet Theatre – his goats and fauns seem to have become the Trocks’ Pan , Panette and disco-bunny fauns.

The company’s prima ballerina assoluta, Ida Nevasaynevaa (aka Paul Ghiselin) performed the classic Dying Swan, an interpretation which distills all the great ballerinas of the past, and has, in its own way, become definitive – the ‘straight’ version comes as a distinct let-down after his. Harlequinade is after Petipa and crosses the divide between the old and the new, with the girls (the very tallest of the company’s tallest) in their best Parisian brothel coat-check girl outfits, resplendent in outrageously frilly knickers. Their partners were the company’s shortest, so it was only a matter of time for the gag of the girls lifting the boys onto their shoulders to appear.

Despite these small reservations, the Trocks remain the Trocks, devoted to their art, deliciously loveable, irrepressible in performance (their ‘encore’ was a Mexican hat dance) – unlike many a ballet company, they continue to guarantee a good time.



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