So ballet eh? All a bit opaque, a bit serious and more than a bit precious? Well, meet The Trocks, as Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo are affectionately nicknamed. Formed in 1974 in the emerging gay subculture around Greenwich Village New York, The Trocks present their unique interpretations of some of ballet’s most revered setpieces – and in this show, The Dying Swan is well and truly skewered.
Especially in front of audiences with memories of panto, men in drag are funny and drag doesn’t come any draggier than the tutu. There’s barely a moment in the show when you’re not looking at a big guy in tutu en pointe and, with no attempt at female impersonation (and how could the dancers have the physiques of rugby players or middleweight boxers), the pratfalls, the switches back into “normal” movement and the comic gurning are soon winning big laughs. But what drives a very sharp line between The Trocks and the kind of comic song and dance that wrapped up every Two Ronnies Show, is the technical mastery of the dancers. These men with painted faces know how to move, clearly love the art they are sending up and are loved back by the ballet aficiondos in the stalls. The comedy in the show has the disrespectful cruelty that all humour needs, but the show is as much a celebration of ballet as a satire.
The avalanche of applause that greeted the fifteen dancers on taking their curtain-call was a testament to the breadth of The Trocks’ appeal (to which they responded with a foot-perfect Riverdance routine). Though a little knowledge of ballet will help in getting some of the in-jokes, there’s plenty for everyone from a company which tours the world, unsupported by any grants or sponsorship, marrying high art and low comedy.