Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – one of the best company names ever – has changed over the years. Way back in the mid-1970s, when the company danced in crumbling theaters (the Old Met in New York, where I first saw them), its humor was based partly on the clunky technique of the dancers (men dancing on pointe, deliberately, in some cases, not very well), and mostly from an absolutely incisive view of classical ballet: its beauty, and the opportunities it presents for over-the-top performances by star, and wannabe star, performers. It satirized style, and did it brilliantly.
That was during the Ballet Boom, which was slowly winding down at the time, and the Trocks mimicked the Ballets Russes-style companies of an earlier Ballet Boom, when American dancers had to take Russian names, and neither technique nor artistry was near the level of the companies in their glory days. Today is a different time. The Baby Ballerinas and their successors are long gone, and Technique is King – or Queen, in this case. While the current version of the Trocks (directed by Tory Dobrin) still has a dancer or two lost on stage, falling after a jump, or bumping into a neighbor or a partner, this generation of Trocks can whip through a series of fouettés or split jumps with the best of them. Also – a deliberate comment on the current state of affairs, or the irresistible draw of star male roles? – the Trocks now emphasize male dancing. There were always a few female-dancers-dancing-as-men, although it was usually noted in the program that they were dancing “en travestie” (a 19th century ballet convention in which a ballerina would take a man’s part) the emphasis was squarely on the ballerinas and the way they tried to seduce the audience.
The Trocks really know its audience and play to it shamelessly, as great stars often do. Opening night, the pratfalls, the parodies, and the souped up technique drew extremely enthusiastic applause and very happy smiles, worthy of a Grand Gala. Looking around the house, I saw only happy faces. Washington needs these guys!Read more