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      Pavel Tord and Lariska Dumbchenko (l-r) in Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
      Photo by Sascha Vaughn
      Pavel Tord and Lariska Dumbchenko (l-r)
    On prancer, on dancer

    Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo bring valiant warhorses to gender-bent splendor in their Joyce holiday season.


    A company of lusty ballerinas flit, pirouette and occasionally mug through dusty, old warhorse ballets, like "Les Sylphide" and act two of "Swan Lake." But look closely: hairy chests peek out from behind sequined tutu tops, and those pointe shoes are awfully large.

    It's been thirty years since the boys of the Trocks, as their aficionados call them, took to the stage in ballet drag. And to much acclaim, then as now. With their silly stage names, both female and male (Ida Nevasayneva, Jacques d'Aniels) and even sillier fake bios, the Trocks could have become a dressed up gag group that aped ballerinas for laughs, a kind of S.N.L. of the dance world. Fortunately, they love ballet too much to do that. Instead, the Trocks are something of an interpretive repertory company, preserving and commenting — with a wryness mixed with appreciation — on everything from forgotten Petipa ballets from the nineteenth century to contemporary choreographers like George Balanchine and Pina Bauch. And it works.

    Choreography by: Peter Anastos, Fokine, Gorsky and Petipa.
    Directed by: Tory Dobrin.
    Includes individual dances: "Dying Swan," "Go for Barocco," "Les Sylphides," and the underwater scene from "The Humpback Horse"
    Music by: Cesare Pugni.
    Production design by: Kenneth Busbin, Mike Gonzales.
    Art direction by: Kenneth Busbin, Mike Gonzales.
    Costumes by: Kenneth Busbin, Mike Gonzales.
    Lighting design by: Kip Marsh, Bob Bursey.
    Staging: Elena Kunikova.
    Decor: John Claassen.

    Related links: Official site
    The Joyce Theater
    175 Eighth Ave.
    Dec. 21, 2004 - Jan. 2, 2005

    It works because the Trocks can dance — and dance on pointe — not just convincingly, but well. The staged gaffes and jokes that intersperse and lighten the classic fare are rehearsed — and amusing — not just funny pratfalls, as when two sylphs collide in the beginning of "Les Sylphides." They stare accusingly at one another before waddling off and assuming angry, straight-armed arabesques.

    At the New Year's Eve performance at the Joyce, blonde-coiffed dynamo Olga Supphozova (Robert Carter) steals the spotlight in Michel Fokine's classic, "Les Sylphides," shooting across the stage and stopping on a dime, then flashing an ebullient smile worthy of a Black Sea diva. Long-suffering Margeaux Mundeyn (Yonny Manaure) seems to mourn some tragic loss as she balances and pivots through a pas de deux with a vacant, droopy partner, the wonderful Pavel Tord (Bernd Burgmaier). Blond and lanky Tord wanders around the stage in a continual state of sleepwalking, rousing himself only to take in the brawny sylphs with an air of supreme disaffection.

      Olga Supphozova flashes an ebullient smile worthy of a Black Sea diva.
    In "Go for Barocco," a send-up of Balanchine's "Concerto Barocco," Nadja Rombova (Jai Williams) and Gerd Tord (Bernd Burgmaier in his female incarnation) sparkle as the leaders of a cast of six black leotard and skirt clad ballerinas. Peter Anastos' playful choreography both toys with and pays homage to Mr. B.'s signature quicksilver footwork and coquettish accents, which in this version morph into a brief spasm of all-out vogueing before the dancers collect themselves and return to neo-classical coolness.

    Two short divertissements prove fairly straightforward interpretations of the originals. Svetlana Lofatkina (Fernando Medina Gallego) and Vladimir Legupski (Lionel Droguet) perform a version of Balanchine's "Tarantella" with vigor and grace. Petipa's "Pas de Trois" showcases an excellent trio of ballerinas in green tutus, Olga Supphozova (Robert Carter), Colette Adae (Jason Hadley), and Lariska Dumbchenko (Raffaele Morra). In Fokine's famous "The Dying Swan," Ida Nevasayneva (Paul Ghiselin) grimaces as her tutu molts continually while she scuttles around to the tinkles of Camille Saint-Saens classic piece.

    The mood suddenly shifts from highbrow ballet drama to cabaret drag fun.  

    The Trocks appear to delight in the possibilities of appreciative camp in the underwater scene from "The Humpback Horse," a restaging of part of a 'lost' Petipa ballet. Perhaps no other company today could get away with it. The plotless undersea vignette is complete with twin pink-tutued Star Fish, a Gold Fish, two Corals wearing clam-breasted tutus la "The Little Mermaid," and two enigmatic characters, the Queen and the Genie of the Underwater. A chorus of seaweed-haired Medusas wave their arms for emphasis as the characters of the 'underwater' enact their courtly pageantry.

    This being New Year's Eve, a special, Rockette-style curtain call brings the show to a delicious close, as the dancers high-kick and march in Santa hats, reindeer horns and 2005 glasses. The mood suddenly shifts from highbrow ballet drama to cabaret drag fun.

    With their high level of technical skill, many Trocks are so convincing as ballerinas that you forget that they're men, until you remember. Which makes being a ballerina suddenly seem like an equal opportunity endeavor. If you don't have to be female then what is required? According to the Trocks, a pair of pointe shoes, a dash of lipstick and some chutzpah are all that's needed. And quite a few hours in the studio, too.

    JANUARY 10, 2005

    Reader comments on Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo:

  • [no subject]   from jully, May 24, 2005
  • [no subject]   from Natalie, Jun 26, 2006
  • compliments to the company   from Michele Pretti, Oct 11, 2006
  • A great ballet   from Ant hill, Sep 23, 2007

  • Post a comment on "Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo"