Programmes 1 & 2: ‘Patterns in Space’, ‘ChopEniana’, ‘Grand Pas Classique’, ‘Le Corsaire pdd’, ‘The Dying Swan’, ‘Walpurgisnacht (Valpurgeyeva Noch)’
Whenever I leave a Trocks show I’m always, always, happy. I can’t say this of any other company. Blokes dressed as ballerinas is intrinsically a fun idea but to think of the Trocks just as a travesty company, hairy chests and pratfalls etc is all wrong. I love all this stuff but what also thrills me are the actual dance performances I’ve seen, the cleverness and subtlety of their observations and the sheer technical dedication of all involved. They know their stuff. The Trocks are up there as one of the world’s great ballet companies and not for nothing did UK critics give them a Company Prize for Outstanding Repertoire a few years ago, pipping ‘usual suspects’ like The Royal Ballet.
This year’s opening programme had me in the usual fits of laughter but 3 pieces really got me that little bit extra. Patterns in Space is a tribute to Merce Cunningham and John Cage and their questing artistic spirits. The steps are spot on and you realise how uncomfortably close the real thing is to self parody. But it’s the two earnest musicians on stage who steal it as they play one-note flute, saucepan, rustle sweet wrappers, pop paper bags and gargle elaborately.
In Grand Pas Classique Chase Johnsey and Claude Gamba actually give us the real thing shorn of all giggles. Johnsey particularly has stunning technique and looks the sweetest ballerina you ever did see – truly. I reckon you could slip Yakatarina Verbosovich (to use her stage name) on with a great company like English National Ballet and most in the audience wouldn’t know her provenance and be very happy indeed.
The night opened with ChopEniana, the Trocks’ take on Les Sylphides. At the core of the original ballet is a poet figure, always a rather ethereal character but here taken to out-of-this-universe levels of detachment by Brock Hayhoe (dancing as Andrei Verikose). He can walk 2 paces and appear absolutely lost and vacant, possibly thinking about how wonderful his legs are, or about the price of hair spray or perhaps wondering if 2 and 2 really do make lots. He also captures the odd hair of some Russian boys – big, big and oh so tastefully ruffled (not). Hayhoe is brilliant but the whole company stun in support, getting mixed up in their own barmy quarrels and tantrums as things fall apart from the wafty perfection expected.
On Tuesday I got to see Programme 2 and the attractive Chase Johnsey again amazed in Grand Pas Classique – even though we were now looking with super-critical eyes. We also got the Le Corsaire pas de deux danced by Long Zou (Nina Enimenimynimova) and Emanuel Abruzzo (Mikhail Mypansarov) and this coupled strong ballerina technique with laughs, though the relationship has yet to fully blossom humorously. They have both joined recently and it was a real reminder that the Trocks hone and develop their comic skills over several tours. The arch example of that is Paul Ghiselin (Ida Nevasayneva) who joined the company over 15 years ago and knocked us sideways again (both nights) with her weary, agedly glamorous, audience loving, Dying Swan. She has the worst legs ever to grace a stage. Also with nearly 15 years on the clock is Robert Carter (Olga Supphozova) who led out Walpurgisnacht, based on a Bolshoi classic with a corps of little Fauns and Nymphs. Carter’s persona (in all pieces) is all-American razzmatazz girl who can slip from cheer-leading glamour-puss to high-born diva ballerina in a millisecond. But she takes no sh*t from anyone and keeps us out front constantly informed as to her state of happiness – blissful, high as a kite on Lucozade or raging-bull mad. A good end to the night particularly with the addition of the obligatory Mexican Hat Dance…
Nice one ladies – come back soon.