Artistic director: Tony Dobrin
Dances staged by: Alexandre Minz and Elena Kunikova
Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
Some things are just funny. If the sight of muscular, hairy men squeezed into ballet tutus doesn’t tickle your funny bone then this is not the show for you. But ‘Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo’ is far more than just a series of visual gags; they perform excerpts from classical ballet in a style that combines technical ability with irreverence. Hell, even the programme is fun- setting out brief and bonkers biographies of the pseudonyms adopted by the cast.
Audience affection is secured by the company generously letting them in on the joke. There is the privileged sense of being backstage and seeing the missed cues, the dancers gossiping during the performance and the bitchiness of the star ballerina. The emersion is so complete that the audience laughs with, not at, the company.
Like the best parodists The Trocks have respect for the genre they are spoofing so that they poke fun, but do not sneer, at its excesses. Paul Ghiselin’s version of ‘The Dying Swan’ is splendidly over the top -staggering around the stage, adjusting his tights, moulting and mistiming his eventual demise. He shamelessly milks the applause to the extent that the curtain calls last almost as long as the actual dance.
Artistic Director Tony Dobrin offers a varied programme. Opening with the goofy but glorious version of ‘Les Sylphides’ featuring slapstick such as a dancer sleepwalking and plummeting screaming into the audience and a backing dancer grimly resigned to continually being flattened by a careless star. The sequences become subtler showing greater technical expertise but not ignoring the humour. While technically excellent ‘Black Swan Pas de Deux’ also offers a great sight gag of a Swan towering over a diminutive Prince.
The warm-hearted spirit of the show is such that you instinctively accept that the apparent errors of the cast arise not from under-rehearsal but rather over-enthusiasm. After delivering a flawless sequence it seems only right that the dancer should celebrate by turning cartwheels.
The appeal of ‘Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo’ is hard to describe other than to repeat that – some things are just funny.