General Director: Eugene McDougle
Artistic Director: Tory Dobrin
Reviewer: Iain Sykes
Since its formation in 1974 and its early days of dancing in Off-Off Broadway shows, the reputation of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo has grown apace until the troupe find itself where it is today, hailed as one of the world’s finest exponents of classical ballet and modern dance. Or, the all-male parody version of the artform, anyway.
Presenting theirProgramme 3 at The Lowry, The Trocks, as they are affectionately known, (and thankfully abbreviated to) open their performance with a manically comic version of Swan Lake. You know it. It’s the one where the ballerinas try and outshine each other with fancy footwork and over-the-top gurning at the audience, and well-choreographed trips, drops and pratfalls are commonplace. One hopes that the original choreographer of the Dance of the Little Swans, Lev Ivanovich Ivanov, is looking down on this rather looser interpretation with a wry sense of humour. The troupe’s star male “male” dancers, The Legupski Brothers, provide fine, if somewhat ineffective, support in the ballet’s more traditionally masculine rôles. And all this is followed up by Paul Ghiselin’s finely executed Dying Swan,which moves the audience to tears…of laughter.
It’s not just classics that feel the full force of the Trocks’. Modern dance gets its own particular tribute in Patterns in Space, with avant-garde choreography based around that of Merce Cunningham complete with two ultra-earnest musicians who just about steal the whole scene from the three shape-throwing dancers.
As with all the finest parodies, in whatever field they exist, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo approach it from a rather more serious background, with love and affection for their subject and here, with an extremely strong technical backing. Yes, men squeezed into tutus is always funny but to see the muscle-bound male limbs stretch and flex into positions that more traditional ballerinas seemingly effortlessly achieve, somehow reinforces to the audience just how physical and demanding the effective delivery of great ballet really is.
This divine mixture of humour and technique is never more on show than in the barnstorming finale of the evening, the very much abridged version of Ludwig Minkus’s Don Quixote presented without the title character (for economic reasons). In this finely observed finale, the dancing could rival anything seen on stage at the Bolshoi and it’s the keen winks, nods and details that sublimely exploit and distort the original to remind the audience that we are watching a parody of the real thing.
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo really transcends the parody genre and, judging by the range of people in the audience, young and old, serious ballet buffs to casual observers, they produce a show full of fun and frolics backed up with solid technical excellence that has something for everybody.
Runs until 7November 2015 | Image: Contributed