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The Crack Magazine

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Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at Theatre Royal

This is every little wannabe ballerina’s dream, a sugar-plum confection that selects the choicest morsels from much loved ballets, costumes them in a gossamer haze of tulle and sequins, then stages them as a fairy-tale fantasy of swans, princesses and handsome princes wearing unfeasibly tight tights. Drawn from around the globe, the company boasts such international terpsichorean luminaries as Vavara Laptopova, Helen Highwaters and Boris Dumbkopf – and if those names don’t give the game away, then the occasional glimpse of chest hair peeping through a satin bodice just might. The Trocks are a company of sixteen highly talented blokes in tutus, tights and pointe-shoes who really can strut their ballet stuff, but also inject it joyously with a strong dash of drag queen humour. There’s always one swan on the wrong side of the lake, one diva hogging the limelight and one supportive prince a foot shorter than his flutteringly feminine princess. A professional company since 1977, the repertoire of Les Ballets Trockadero is premised on the notion that if it’s worth sending up, it’s worth doing properly (and vice versa). It’s wonderful to watch an audience obviously geared up for the laughs start to applaud enthusiastically when a difficult solo is simply danced straight (if that’s quite the right word). Of course, the formalised movement and exaggerated gestures of the dance are ripe for parody, so it only takes a tiny tweak to release the humour, but here it’s done with collusive enthusiasm for the artificial grace, conventionalised gender roles and improbable costumes that are being sent up (and incidentally re-defined) by the performance. Favourite moment was the Dance of the Cygnets from “Swan Lake” which has choreography that even in the most serious interpretations makes the little swanlets look more like frogs. In the Trocs version they were absolutely feral.

Gail-Nina Anderson