Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (known to their millions of fans world-wide as “The Trocks”) made a very welcome return to the Festival Theatre tonight as part of their UK tour. The all-male, New York based company has been established for over 40 years, and is often described as a comedy ballet company, but that description doesn’t come close to describing the phenomenon that is The Trocks. The Trocks dance female ballerina roles on pointe, and they dance them flawlessly, but with comedy touches and a certain attitude that has audiences applauding and laughing out loud. At times they can have the sweetness and innocence of a line-up of little girls in ballet school – one spotting someone she knows in the audience, another suddenly realising she is out of step with everyone else – and at others there is the ruthlessness of a diva making sure no-one else gets to stand in front of her, even if that means elbowing one of the other dancers out of the way!
Tonight’s programme featured four acts, from Les Sylphides, Patterns in Space, La Trovatiara, and Paquita, along with an over-the-top Dying Swan moulting feathers all over the stage, superbly danced by Robert Carter in the guise of Olga Supphozova.
At times it is easy to suspend belief and forget that these are men dancing in women’s roles, particularly with Long Zou as Nina Enimenimynimova in the lead role in Paquita. His dancing was so exquisite and beautifully accomplished that I could easily have been watching a female prima ballerina on stage. But when you remember that these are men, with the heavier bulk and weight of men, dancing so delicately on pointe, doing lifts that would normally be done with a much lighter female dancer, you realise the sheer strength and physicality of their performance.
There is always that subversive air about any performance from “The Trocks” as they bring humour and at times anarchy to many of classical ballet’s most iconic set performances. The very institution of Classical Ballets also at times take more than a gentle air of gentle mockery, but the one thing that is never mocked, or compromised at any performance is the technical performance of the dance itself. “The Trocks” take their ballet very seriously and maintain classic lines and forms throughout their show despite whatever is going on around them in any performance.
The all-too-short show ended with a chorus girl line-up paying tribute to their home city of New York, after which the audience reluctantly left, having enjoyed a performance which brought warmth and light into a cold October evening.
Review by Lisa Sibbald