Artistic Direction by Tory Dobrin
Executive Direction by Liz Harler
What is it they say: there’s method in the madness? For The Trocks – there’s method in the laughter. For just shy of fifty years, though not looking a day over forty-nine, the all-male comedy ballet company Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo has diversified the genre of dance to appreciative fans and sold-out venues.
These sixteen dancers, and danseurs, take the binary division to next level – or rather play into it. Each of these dancers becomes both ballerina and danseur, principal and ensemble. What emerges is a unique creation; a skit-comedy of dance, of ballet. With meticulous detail to lampoon and spoof classical ballet acts, the company create hilarious homages to the likes of Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake or Vivaldi’s Suite. With every curtain call, of which there are many for this egotistically deserving bunch, there is thunderous applause and appreciation – particularly for Takaomi Yoshino’s graceful pirouettes and synchronised physicality as the Queen of the Swans.
The likes of Robert Carter (Yuri Smirnov) turn in an exquisitely gleeful undertaking of the Evil Wizard Von Rothbart, who somehow maintains a manic expression amidst all of the delicacies from Giovanni Goffredo or Jake Speakman. But under this storytelling wonder of ballet and form, never will you find an audience cruelly laugh mirthfully as this, as the Festival Theatre crowds cackle and pray for that damn swan (played in Act two by Carter) to just die already. The visual gags are as strong as the physical ones from the dancers themselves, with facial expressions the most asset many of the company poses outside of their limbs.
And lord, what limbs. The dexterity and thought process behind some of the 2nd Act choices are magnificent – not solely from a technical point of poise and pointe, but in the craft and direction to concoct and carry out these scenes. Nowhere more evident than Joshua Thake’s immensely tall frame being paired with, you guessed it, the company’s shortest member. Yet the rhythm and fluidity in movement are as captivating as it is downright hilarious.
Now, if one can take a moment to pry their leering gaze away from the veritable smashing display of tutu-testosterone, one may note that behind the glued-on eyelashes, feathers, and attitude there is a sharp and precise sense of technique at work. The entire concept of the company is never to desecrate the art form, but rather to accentuate and exaggerate the foibles and incongruities of serious dance. It all builds to an acceptance, a renewed appreciation as the heavier, bulkier frames of men take on these dainty roles as Swans, sprites, or new-American dames. And behind every prima donna’s blaring sass, is a fine demonstration of precise needlework footing.
Tu-Tu Frutti Deliciousness. That’s what this farcical feast of frothing feathers becomes. An absolute beast of technique prowess any Russian dance master would envy, with bulging biceps to boot. From clown expertise to a proficiency in the medium of dance, this programme offers but a sliver of the company’s repertoire (we’re still to catch Raymonda’s Wedding) and starves audiences of more, long before they grow with excitement and enjoyment. There is still a marvellous foundation which both The Trocks and Dance Consortium share, a veritable maelstrom of skill and aptitude to not only entertain, but push the boundaries and dusted dynamics of expectation, becoming a shining example of par excellence.
Tu-Tu Frutti Deliciousness
The Trocks: Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo runs at the Festival Theatre until October 22nd.
Running Time: 120mins (with two intervals)
Tickets for which may be obtained here.