Despite the hilarity, this all-male ballet troupe are technically brilliant
By MORAG PHILLIPS
LES BALLETS Trockadero de Monte Carlo, are an all male dance company who perform En Travesti in hysterical parodies of classic and modern ballets.
They have been entertaining us with their particular comedy for over 40 years. Their tours are almost always a sell-out. The audiences are very loyal with many returning to see them each time they tour.
Founded in 1974 The Trocks as they are fondly known, began in New York where they performed in off Broadway venues initially, but quickly moved into larger theatres and are now touring in up to 35 countries worldwide, including The Bolshoi in Moscow where they were an overwhelming success (who says Russians don’t have a sense of humour?).
I loved the introduction where the man with a dubious Russian accent told us a little about each dancer. There was Maya Thickenthighya, Varvana Laptopova and Sergey Legupski among others. Their stories were hilarious.
Having already seen The Trocks many years ago I was of course looking forward to an evening of laughter and great entertainment. I had forgotten however how high the standard of dance was and indeed during Les Sylphides, a ballet by Michael Fokine to music by Chopin, I found myself completely immersed in the delicacy and lightness of the dancing. As such, I found myself a bit irritated when one of the funny bits interrupted the beautiful movement. I had to remind myself this was men and it was supposed to amuse.
After Les Sylphides which I have to say again, was danced exquisitely, we had a Cunningham-esque piece, Patterns in Space with two musicians onstage putting in live percussion to accompany the dancers. This for me was the funniest part of the show. The musicians antics in providing the correct sounds at the correct times and in the most inventive ways, were extremely funny.
The next hapless ham-up was the Pas de Cinq in Verdi’s opera, La Trovatiara, with choreography by Peter Anastos. Once again I was blown away by the pure technical brilliance of the dancers and their ability to parody the drama, foibles and mannerisms of the Ballerina in full ‘star’ mode.
We then came to what was for me, a highlight, The Dying Swan. With music by Saint-Saen and choreographed by Michel Fokine for Anna Pavlova in 1909. This very famous image is wiped away, by the sight of a burly bloke dressed in white feathers, and on pointe. This alone is laughter inducing but the expressions on the swans face had me in convulsions. The chasing of the follow spot was just classic. When he began to moult all over the stage the whole auditorium was a sea of shaking shoulders. Robert Carter playing the role of Olga Supphozova as The Swan was excellent.
And so we come Paquita, with music by Minkus and original choreography by Marius Petipa. I could see why it was picked as a finale piece. It was sensationally danced. Quick, brilliant footwork, effortless leaps. Of course, there were the perfectly timed comedic occurrences to keep the audience on its toes. It was a thrilling performance and the audience were enthralled. I am willing to bet that many of the audience who came just for laughs may well now be booking tickets to see more ballet in future.
I would advise trying to get tickets near front. In my seat at back of dress circle, it wasn’t so easy to see facial expressions. It’s also difficult to anticipate which part of stage to look at so I did miss a few comedy moments alerted only by the audience laughing.
In summing up I would say this company are a must see. Its good, down-to-earth comedy, great dancing and family-friendly. The Trocks are the Fabulous, Fantastic, Femmes Fatales of the Ballet world.
ADDITIONAL SHOW INFORMATION
Venue: Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Dates: October 30 & 31, 2018
Times: Evenings 7.30pm.
Running time: 2 hrs 10mins, including two intervals Tickets: £21-£34.50 (Discounts available)
Box Office: 0131 225 6000 www.capitaltheatres.com
Artistic Director: Tory Dobrin.
Lighting: Kip Marsh