Artistic Director: Tory Dobrin
Reviewer: Victoria Bawtree
For over 40 years, “The Trocks” have been entertaining audiences worldwide: since 1974 the group has performed in 35 countries and over 600 cities. For two days only, Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre plays host to a dedicated, physical and extremely impressive troupe of dancers, who interpret and gently parody classical ballet as you’ve never seen it before.
This all-male cast, complete with entertaining Russian pseudonyms, take ballet to its roots and combine the grace and beauty associated with the artform with comedy, always perfectly-timed. Think Morecambe and Wise working in a celebrity song-and-dance routine and you have an idea of what The Trocks are about.
First and foremost, however, these dancers are serious about what they do: the impressive stuff a prima ballerina is known for is exaggerated and multiplied by ten; the corps de ballet is perfectly in sync and there is always a story to tell. Men en pointe takes a little getting used to, but it is managed with such impressive grace and attention to detail. The Canterbury performance began with Les Sylphides with its overtones of Giselle and La Sylphide set to the music of Chopin and staged by Alexandre Minz. A truly classical ballet, this combined the corps de ballet with impressive solo moments, but it is the former that steals the show. With fluttering eyelashes, the dancers move in and out of character with ease, one gently out diva-ing the other in a type of graceful slapstick that just wouldn’t be possible in another scenario.
Following an interval, three short acts followed: Harlequinade Pas de Deux, Trovatiara Pas de Cinq and Dying Swan. The ‘Pas de Deux’ features Takaomi Yoshino and Long Zou each pushing the pirouettes and spins to an absolute limit while maintaining a faithful rendition of Classical ballet. The troupe of five in the ‘Trovatiara’, choreographed by Peter Anastos embraces the music of Verdi and seeks to exaggerate every nuance of the score, keeping this audience entertained throughout. The programme is definitely worth a read on this one as well.
Every aspect of Classical ballet is given the ‘Trockadero’ treatment, but it is the exits, curtain calls and encores that have such attention to detail. In particular, Robert Carter’s Dying Swan highlights the slightly surreal nature of ballet – is it really possible to die convincingly ‘en pointe’? His curtain call is an act in its own right and, like a true prima ballerina, he milks it for all it’s worth.
A second interval follows – well, there is a lot of make-up, false eyelashes and costume involved – before the final number of the show, Paquita, is presented. The choreography, after Marius Petipa, is staged by Elena Kunikova and the premise: what happens when the leading lady and leading man don’t get on and the leading man has a roving eye for one of the chorus, allows for more classical dance juxtaposed with the unexpected.
In a nutshell, this is a seriously silly show that is, without doubt, succeeding in its remit: ‘To bring the pleasure of dance to the widest possible audience’. It is hard to imagine both novices and professionals not finding something to love here.
Reviewed on 19 October 2018 and on tour | Image: Contributed