Friday, December 2

Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Les Ballets Trockadero, or “The Trocks”, is a company of professional male dancers who perform a repertoire of classical ballet, taking both male and female roles to great comic effect.   Blokes in tutus dancing en pointe is an amusing concept in itself, but the comedy displayed in the slapstick parody of an art form that sometimes takes itself too seriously is a joy and a chuckle-fest from start to finish.  The dancing is excellent; these guys are properly trained disciplined ballet dancers, the spoofs would not be so funny if it were otherwise.  A shoulder shrug, a jerk of the head and some wonderfully funny facial expressions enhance the more obvious slapstick in the choreography.  The dancers all have ballerina character names, with alter egos such as Colette Adae, Marina Plezegetovstageskaya, Holly Dey-Abroad, Helen Highwaters and Maria Clubfoot, to name but a few.

The programme started with Swan Lake, Act 2, with Robert Carter, as Yuri Smirnov, playing the evil wizard as a classical panto baddie, with dramatic sound and lighting effect.  Prince Siegfried, (Vladimir Legupski, one of the four Legupski brothers) played by Duane Gosa was a small person who was naturally matched with the considerably larger Queen of the Swans (Vavara Laptopova) played by Takaomi Yoshino.    The corps of swans danced the Swan Lake moves so familiar, even to anyone who hasn’t seen the classic version, swanning about so beautifully but always with one swan either on the wrong side or playing catch-up with the others.  The fact that these male dancers, who probably weigh twice as much as the average ballerina, can maintain dancing en pointe continuously for as long as they do, is quite an achievement and a testament to their technical ability, comic effect notwithstanding.

The first interval was followed by the Swan Lake Pas de Trois, hilariously lampooning the conventional pas de deux, with Elvira Khababgallina, Minnie van Driver and Timur, (another of the Legupski brothers), played by Kevin Garcia, Ugo Cirri and Jake Speakman.  The Vivaldi Suite came next, all pink and blue tutus, with Eugenia Repelski (Joshua Thake), Boris Dumbkopf (Takaomi Yoshino) and the Corps Trockadero.  Our next treat was The Dance of the Dying Swan, (Olga Supphozova) played by Robert Carter, shedding feathers like a moulting turkey.  When the curtain came down, the magnificent Olga took a Prima Ballerina curtain call lasting a good five minutes, with the audience fulfilling their role by participating in rapturous applause, whooping and whistling.  The final piece was Raymonda’s Wedding with music by Alexander Glazunov.

The costumes by Mike Gonzales were conventional classical ballet but the make-up was pure drag queen.  The classical music was presumably recorded, as no orchestra was visible nor was one credited.  Lighting by Kip Marsh was well executed, at one point with the spotlight in search of a performer.  Having tried all stage entrances the light finally settled on upstage left, with the dancer appearing in blackout downstage right!  The choreography credited was “after” Ivanov, Balanchine and Petipa, but clearly given the unique Trockadero twist.  This production showcased the talents of a troupe of thirteen male dancers all of whom have the ability to bring humour and a sense of silliness to classical ballet.

Reviewer: H.S. Baker

Reviewed: 21st October 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★