Last Thursday night, the men of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo took the Mainstage at the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance for a lively and playful three-act performance that left all those in attendance with a smile. The show was made possible by the W. Ford Schumann ’50 Endowment for the Arts and the Lipp Family Fund for the Performing Arts.
The premise on which the ballet troupe’s parodies are based is that the cast is comprised only of men, most of whom play female roles and consequently dance in drag. The ballet dancers’ effeminate affectations, however, were only one of many techniques used to give their dances levity. The dancers embellished the show with comedic gestures, facial expressions and a continual breaking of the fourth wall, to the great amusement of the audience.
The all-male ensemble, affectionately known as the “Trocks,” were introduced by their stage names in a thick Russian accent over the loud speaker, which ranged from “Maya Thickenthighya” to “Ida Nevasayneva.”
After the introductions, they started the night off with their abbreviated satire of Act II of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Slight variations from the original plot, including the apparent romantic interest of Prince Siegfried’s friend and confidante Benno on Odette, the queen of the swans, enhanced their interpretation of the piece. Odette’s swans were an audience favorite, due to their antics that included tripping each other, breaking into hip-hop and exaggerated bird movements. Ballet-goers also thoroughly enjoyed the “Dying Swan” scene, which opened with the spotlight handler searching the stage for the protagonist, who at first was nowhere to be found. One scene featured Odette scrambling to gather the feathers she shed on the floor and reattach them to her dress, ultimately flailing into a fluffy white heap.
“Patterns in Space” led the second act, a “postmodern dance movement essay,” according to the show’s program. Five members of the company took the spotlight – three as dancers, two as “musicians.” Though the dancers wore colorful outfits and occupied center stage, the musicians, off to the side and dressed in black, drew the majority of the audience’s attention. The dynamic duo employed a variety of alternative instruments to accompany the performers; bubble wrap, paper bag and kazoos were only a handful of the many objects they utilized over the course of the act.
Next, the Trocks performed three movements of “Go For Barocco,” a play on Bach’s ballet Concerto Barocco. The ballerinas poked fun at their own size disparities and disconformities by having one of the smaller dancers attempt to lift a much bigger and heavier one. They also took full advantage of having a synchronized routine by having one of the dancers playfully ‘forget’ his choreography, which also served as a reminder of the dance’s complexity.
“Paquita” was the last act of the night, a version of the French style Spanish-themed opera of the same name. Among other funny moments, “Paquita” featured both a domino effect in which half a dozen dancers fell down, and a member of the troupe coming on stage just momentarily to help his fellow dancer keep her balance as he raised one foot in his hand.
Throughout the show, the set was minimal, allowing the audience to focus its attention on the dancers themselves. The costumes, too, were simplistic versions of what one might expect at a typical ballet – tutus and pointe shoes – and were true to the female roles they represented despite the gender differences, while the make-up was garish and gaudy, reminiscent of stereotypical drag queens. The cross-dressing aspect added to the overall levity of the performance.
The Trocks showcased their undeniable talent for ballet while simultaneously teasing the audience with a constant stream of jokes blended into the dances, amounting to an enjoyable night that was accessible to both the regular ballet frequenters and the first-timers in the audience.