A New York-based troupe of male dancers, all with both male and female personae and jokey mock-Russian names, the Trocks pay homage to the traditions of Russian ballet, while at the same time lovingly sending up some of its most arcane elements, say, swans…
So, naturally, the famous Dying Swan, where a single ballerina portrays the final moments of the titular bird to the plangent strains of Saint-Saëns cello music, is one of the staples of the Trocks’ repertoire.
On opening night of Programme A The Dying Swan was performed by Helen Highwaters (aka Duane Gosa) as a decrepit, profusely moulting bird, whose legs threatened to run away from under her, and whose arabesques produced paralysing back spasms.
If something epitomises the Trocks’ sheer artistry and comic timing, it is this. Because, make no mistake, pratfalls and all these boys can dance! Highwaters’ supple, ondulating arms shape wings that stand comparison to those of any bone fide ballerina, her feet bourrée impeccably; but at the same time her knowing glances at the audience, exaggerated gasps of supposed pain and eventual clumsy death are truly comical.
The evening started with more swans, in the Trocks’ own version of Act II of Swan Lake. Duane Gosa returned, this time in his male persona of Vladimir Legupski (geddit?), as a lanky, besotted, but a little dim Prince Siegfried; his beloved Swan Queen was the imperious and technically awesome Alla Snizova (Carlos Hopuy), and there was a corps of eight hapless swans.
I admit to an involuntary little squeal of delighted anticipation when four dancers emerged from the wings for the famous Little Swans pas de quatre, where the requirement for absolute coordination between the four is just crying out for mishaps. And so it proved with hilarious results, as one burly swan consistently missed steps or fell over, while her companions tried to dance on and hide their growing dismay.
In the Harlequinade pas de deux Nina Enimenimynimova (Long Zou) and Boris Dumkopf (Takaomi Yoshino) delighted, the only hint that this outstanding performance wasn't quite for real being the dainty ballerina's frequent little girl clapping of hands at the mere prospect of dancing with her handsome partner.
The least interesting piece of the evening was La Trovatiara pas de cinq, a piece of exotica reminiscent of Le Corsaire, that somehow fell a little flat (pun only semi-intended...)
The whole cast came together for the finale, a scene from The Little Humpbacked Horse, a ballet now mostly forgotten, but a favourite of imperial Russia. Here we have the Trocks in their full glory with tutus aplenty, for, as their Artistic Director, Tory Dobrin said in a recent interview: ‘I pay good money; I want to see tutus!’
Coral gold tutus, then, purple starfish tutus, a glittery water-green diaphanous tutu for the rather butch Queen of the Underwater, Olga Supphozova (Robert Carter), and more…
Further delights are promised for Programme B, including a spot of Bournonville with Napoli and what’s billed as a post modern dance movement essay…
I’d like to end with a confession: for far too long I resisted the Trocks. More fool I. This was one of the most joyous evenings I’ve spent in the theatre in a long time. Go!
|What||Review: Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo|
|Where||Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, London, WC2A 2HT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Holborn (underground)|
11 Sep 18 – 22 Sep 18, 19:30 mats 14:30, Sun 16 Sep 14:30 Dur.: 2 hours 20 mins inc two intervals
|Website||Click here to book via Sadler's Wells website|