Reviews

Men in tights

Leigh Witchel, New York Post
Posted on

The all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo skillfully sends up and celebrates ballet. Photo: Sascha Vaughn

LES BALLETS TROCKADERO DE MONTE CARLO                                                      
Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave.;
212-242-0800.
Through Jan. 2, 2011.

If you want to understand ballet, forget “Black Swan” and go see the Trocks.That’s shorthand for Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the 36-year-old, all-male comic ballet troupe that opened Tuesday night at The Joyce. These guys don’t only get what’s nutty about ballet; they show you what’s wonderful.

The laughs come from the company’s lethal timing and insane logic. There isn’t one of ballet’s revered but bizarre premises it can’t push right off a cliff into absurdity.

In “ChopEniana,” the Trocks’ version of the classic “Les Sylphides,” Raffaele Morra’s sweetly hilarious Lariska Dumbchenko lands from the air, only to thump the long-suffering corps toward the ground, until they fall into splits. Her limply romantic partner, Andrei Verikose (Brock Hayhoe), isn’t just dreamy — he’s catatonic, hauling her about in a stupor.

Modern dance isn’t safe from the Trocks, either. A hardworking trio dances the Merce Cunningham pastiche “Patterns in Space” as two company members pose as avant-garde accompanists, performing on kazoos, aspirin bottles and spray cans, among other things. The rest of the music is recorded, as the faux-Russian announcer explains before the lights dim, “as the scores have not yet arrived from Russia.”

The best gag is when Dumbchenko, deadly serious in all black with a severe bun, takes a sip of water, maneuvers herself methodically and laboriously upside down to the microphone and gargles.

The Trocks aren’t just about jokes. They unearth ballets practically no one else is doing, like an excerpt from the 1844 “La Vivandiere,” starring the big-boned, unnaturally jolly Katerina Bychkova (Joshua Grant) and her tiny partner, Ketevan Iosifidi (Long Zou), whom she nearly crushes.

If the Trocks can’t compete with real women — though Zou, the 21-year-old Chinese dancer who also plays Nina Enimenimynimova, comes unnervingly close — there are things they do poignantly well, like their graceful exactitude in the correct placement of their heads and shoulders. When Olga Supphozova (Robert Carter) snaps through double fouette turns he couldn’t do this well just a few years back, you see past the gags to the hard work and beauty that comes from them.

The Trocks may show you how to laugh at ballet, but they also teach you to love it.

New York Post