Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
Last remain performance Sat January 21st
Sublimely Silly and Skillfully Sweet
Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo has been around for over 40 years. The concept is male ballet dancers perform pieces from classic Russian ballets and modern dance with great skill and athleticism. If playing a female part they dress in drag and then they mine comedy out of exaggerating the foibles, accidents, underlying incongruities of serious dance.
So that includes pratfalls, mugging, fighting and sneaking a snack while on stage. It’s brilliantly subversive because the dancers are all so skilled that you forget that they are men in drag and suddenly one of them will be out of sync, cross their eyes or reveal a hairy armpit and the juxtaposition produces guffaws.
The company takes their work very seriously and has dozens of different dances so each time they come to town it will be a different combination. Each show is broken into three acts.
We were treated to Swan Lake Act 2 first. Filled with dancers who get winded, petty fights and a chorus of swans who suddenly become very vicious hissing at the male dancer.
Act Two featured: a modern dance piece that featured two old musicians creating a hilarious soundscape using things like candy wrappers, kazoos and gargling. That was followed by “Pas de Six” from Esmeralda featuring as always brilliant physical comedy that is punctuated by the music. Finally a solo called The Dying Swan a brilliant sight gag as the ballerina is moulting throughout leaving an impossible amount to feathers drizzling out of her tutu wherever she dances.
Act Three was the boisterous Don Quixote and although stuffed with comedy takes and over the top expressions, we quickly realize we are actually watching a real ballet. These boys are highly skilled and although they are having fun at the world of dance they are respectful and a clearly relish getting to play the women’s roles.
Each dancer has a female and a male drag name depending what role they are playing. Embodying their drag dancer they heighten the personality and manners making them pop but they don’t get vulgar or tacky. They never betray that they are men in drag. They become the divas and live in their world.
That conceit makes for a wildly funny and original experience and a terrific night out. You leave feeling a little classy and a little naughty.
David C. Jones