Artistic Director: Tory Dobrin
Ballet Master: Raffaele Morra
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
Dance Consortium brings Edinburgh precisely what it adores – something intelligent, fabulous and unique. Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is an all-male drag ballet troupe who seek to showcase their technical prowess in dance, whilst lampooning the traditional romanticism of ballet.
The true measure of high-quality parody is to love your source. Parody that takes cheap shots for the sake of a win always fails. Imitating a form of art is one thing, taking it as your own – distorting it to your own image, is how to master it. The Trocks do precisely this, paying homage to classical forms of ballet. It shifts exquisitely from parody, bordering on pastiche and into its own piece of exquisite performance.
The backbiting, dagger glaring and fang-baring realism of ballet’s nature is on show. The Trocks are the backstage of ballet. No less cultural or sophisticated, more so as it takes everything in its stride. Draped by designers Jeffrey Sturdivant and Ken Busbin the lines between male and female are non-existent. Our danseurs retaining their drag aesthetic, ballerinas more striking than any Russian prima.
Humour is part of the troupe’s core. Whilst one may erroneously expect it to be the forefront, it relegates itself rather gracefully at the sidelines. It isn’t the star attraction – the dance always is. From the visual slip-ups to technical faults, the ways in which Les Ballets Trockadero invent new manners to make us laugh is wonderful. It may heighten the movement, engage our emotions more but it isn’t the primary form onstage. If anything, there was a stringent lack of it in the final act.
Opening tonight with Les Sylphides the epitome of ballet blanc in which all female performers are dressed in white. It’s the example of a ballet with no narrative structure, instead, the focus is on the movement, mood and emotion. This, however, is a Trockadero variant. Scowling dancers, slothful performers and a male lead whose attention is all but divided. From the moment these men engage en pointe, we’re made aware of their ability. What follows is our eyes frantic scrambling to absorb every moment of the ensuing performance. The tiniest movement of comedy, some sure to be missed as we’re taken aback by the performances of Joshua Thake, striding out as both queen and dancer.
Soloist Robert Carter, performing the Dying Swan completely embodies the sheer majesty of this troupe. The balance of wit, comedy, practicality and movement is awe-inspiring. From the curtain rising, a lone spotlight on a black stage. Frantically searching for our performer – it’s evidence of what is about to unfold. A graceful swan, shedding enough feathers to fill the seat cushions in her death throws. Her attitude, her demi-pointe all shrieks marvellous, her comedic hand thrusting for more applause.
With this said, tonight’s final act ends more with a sombre celebration than a bombastically fantasmic spectacle one may imagine. The French styling of Paquita serves to showcase individual talents of ballerinas, it’s followed up act is an obscurely cutting finale. The dancers dance, the curtain falls and most of the audience still feels that something will happen. Our performers, donning Statue of Liberty crowns take their final bow. Perhaps it’s just the craving for more, but it felt abrupt and ill-fitting of what recognition they deserve.
Trockadero has the heart of a harlequin but prima ballerinas’ soul. Completely deconstructing any illusion of a gender norm – the masculine and the feminine are one. Marrying together idealistic notions of ballet, slapped across the face with drag stylings. This is unique, imaginative, funny but most of all ravishing.
Runs until 31 October 2018 | Image: