Peacock Theatre, London
September 23, 2015
The plus-size pointe shoes of The Trocks, or Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, presented a second programme at the Peacock following the roaring – pun intended – success of the previous week. The company has become a global phenomenon since its foundation in New York in 1974, and London has had the pleasure of their eyelash-clad superstars for two-fun-filled weeks, although there’s plenty of technical prowess hand-in-hand with the undeniable comic timing.
With the Trocks, the classical ballet repertoire is turned on its head in comical new takes on classics that so well-known by audiences. The blend of skilful technique and forceful wit is seamless, and the men on pointe are the embodiment of the ballerina diva.
Scene-stealers seems too gentle a term for the fabulous male dancers who take on alter egos such as Lariska Dumbchenko, Alla Snizova, Nina Immobilashvili and more throughout the pushing, kicking and oneupmanship of the programme that included a tongue-in cheek versions of Les Sylphides, a Merce Cunningham-inspired Patterns in Space, a sideways look at George Balanchine through Go For Barocco, a Dying Swan (of course), and a Don Quixote.
The all-male primas presented both their skills on pointe and in the make-up chair. They can be seen (incorrectly) as a drag act but what they ultimately are is a tribute to the ballet greats; their programmes showing off classical female roles in classic style.
Les Sylphides made a strong start to the evening, full of fluttering feet interspersed with hairy chests, misplaced turns and off-balance grimaces. Through the humour, it is clear the Trocks have got it completely right: the rushed run round to the back of the stage, the withdrawing from the foot dangerously near the face and the struggles of shining next to a big personality. Exaggeration of realism is key with the painstakingly comical gestures balanced by technique and (mostly!) light footwork. If only all classical repertoire was like this!
The Cunningham-inspired Patterns in Space pokes fun at contemporary dance. It’s full of deep pliés in fourth and a sublime John Cage-esque accompaniment of bubble wrap, a paper bag, a kazoo and more. Credit goes to Lariska Dumbchenko (Rafaelle Morra) and Yuri Smirnov (Robert Carter) who upped the ante and immersed themselves completely in the mindless playing, and to the trio of Guzelle Verbitskaya (Jack Furlong), Minnie van Driver (Matt Van) and Marat Legupski (Christopher Oullette), who were completely straight-faced through their sincere triplets and jumps.
Maria Paranova’s (Carlos Renedo) Dying Swan was just on the right side of tastefulness. The spotlight searched painfully for its subject; once found, falling feathers adorned the stage from Paranova’s tutu, moulting away much to the audience’s delight. Paranova executed the bird via a series of ailments whilst maintaining the all-important bourreés.
Don Quixote was a little more reserved in some ways, leaning more heavily on Yakatarina Verbosovich’s (Chase Johnsey as Kitri) and Vyacheslav Legupski’s (Paolo Cervellera as Basil) strong technique. Whilst the humour was less prevalent, the comic timing remained on point when it did appear. The multiple turns from a number of dancers were a delight, and the ensemble sections were strong. It was in the crowd-pleasing pas de deux from Kitri and Basil, and the ensuing coda, where skill really overrode comedy and the Trocks reminded everyone just how committed, and how good their dancers are.
A surprise rendition of Michael Flatley’s Riverdance following the curtain calls for Don Quixote brought the laughter back up to full volume, delighting the audiences in another poker-faced interpretation of a much-loved classic, adding yet more wit and humour in places it would not have originally been.
This programme continues at the Peacock Theatre to September 26, Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo then setting off on a nationwide tour. For more details click here.