Review: 2012 Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at the Mondavi Center

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo's Swan Lake

Balanchine famously said, ballet is woman. Not always so, as this all-male troupe demonstrated. Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is a pointe-shoe wearing all-male ballet troupe that breaks every ballet stereotype in the

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book. Anorexic ballerinas? No one could ever imagine such bulging biceps and healthy thighs peeking out from layers of tulle in their tutus. How about the age-old mantra that the female roles/dancers should always be shorter than their male counterparts in point? Not true – the Trocks demonstrate how arresting a 6+ foot dancer can be, majestic and powerful, and always with a touch of humor. In fact, I learned that it’s impossible to take your eyes off a dancer like that. (On this point, I guess the Trocks and Balanchine share their love for tall dancers and their resulting long lines).

It might be difficult to get past the tufts of hair peeking above sparkling white bodices and a flash of dark armpit hair under a gracefully waving arm. But try as you might, and if you can see past your tears of laughter, you will see that the Trocks aren’t just a comedic act. They have a style that is entirely their own, backed by incredible technique. In their famous Act II of Swan Lake (do the Trocks perform this at every performance?), they perform a slightly altered rendition of the notoriously difficult Dance of the Cygnets. I’m so used to seeing the original Dance with at least a little bit of trepidation on stage, which always makes me uneasy as a result. But not only did the Trocks nail it, they tossed off the choreography with humor and flair, complete with facial expressions in addition to the intricate choreography,

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like it was easy. The effect is hilarious and utterly triumphant.

In fact throughout the entire evening, there was not a whiff of caution onstage. The Trockaderos’ style is bold and exuberant. Their attack is strong and sure. Every step is full out at full speed, whether they go up on point in an arabesque, or whether they are tossing off fouettes with a rare confidence that many ballerinas dream of. Their balances are extraordinary. It’s for these reasons that I particularly enjoy the pieces that they perform without jokes around every corner. Their Go for Barocco choreographed by Peter Anastos is a brilliant spoof of Balanchine’s stark, sexy ballet style, parodying Balanchine’s geometric formations and ensemble work. But even if you had never seen Balanchine before, it’s a delightful musical sketch that holds interest through its lightning fast and repetitious footwork. It’s Balanchine with a wink and a smile.

The evening ended with Majisimas, a Spanish-inflected showcase of classical ballet technique. Danced mostly straight without too many stabs at humor, it was a refreshing showcase of what these men can really do. Through seductive hips, the dancers sailed through this showcase of classical ballet fireworks and technique. I was reminded of the Trockadero’s performance of Paquita that I saw two years earlier at the same venue, and this piece reminded me of the same joy and celebration that I still recall from that performance two years ago. (Their Paquita is a must-see, and something I’d love to see live again someday.) And Paul Ghiselin’s rendition of The Dying Swan is pitch perfect, down to every detail, and a personal favorite.

Hilarious, yes – their Swan Lake is both funny and creative, and kids and adults alike will love this show. But what makes this troupe “the real deal” is their artistry, with their hearts on their sleeve. It doesn’t hurt that names such as Jacques d’Aniels (come on, a ballet and alcohol reference all in one!) and my husband’s favorite, Stanislaus Kokitch is in the program (I had to say that last one out loud before I got it, to my husband’s chagrin). And the dancers! I’m sorry I don’t recognize a lot of the dancers yet, but the fabulous Robert Carter was a standout.

Go see it!!

For a particularly good piece on the Trockaderos, check out this great entry on You Dance Funny. And for an added bonus, you can read in

the comments my personal story of seeing the Trocks for the first time. :)

Click here for more information on the Mondavi Center.

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