In terms of mould-breaking diversity, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, also based in New York (never mind the moniker), have not been far behind. The world has long been awash with wannabe ballerinas. But who knew there were so many with size 11 feet?
Yes, the Trocks, as they have come to be known, are male to a man, yet insist on performing ballets intended for a cast of wispy girls on pointe. A good deal of the Trocks’ comedy derives from the sheer absurdity of masculine bulk balanced on a toe’s width of blocked satin, but other aspects of ballet conformism are pointed up too. One of the Trocks wears glasses, another has a Cyrano nose, and another dwarfs her weedy partner, kindly giving him a bunk-up now and then.
Yet the intention is not to mock so much as delight in ballet’s foibles and potential mishaps – the corps de ballet girl slugged into the wings by a stray arabesque, the charm malfunctions and pecking-order squabbles that have beset classical companies for 150 years.
New audiences lap up the slapstick, and the opening spiel in a cod-Russian accent which announces that “Natasha Notgudenov will not be appearing” (this segment is surely due for a few fresh jokes). Aficionados, meanwhile, relish the observations on performance practice. As well as being sharp physical comics, the Trocks have an in-depth knowledge of ballet history.
Me, I still laugh till I cry at pretty much all of it, but would make special mention of Brock Hayhoe’s gormless danseur noble in ChopEniana (the Russian version, aka Les Sylphides, of which the Trocks dance every last step as written, however difficult), and Raffaele Morra’s tremulous sylph, her delicate port de bras offset by an abundance of chest hair.
Details: danceconsortium.com. The Trocks: (0844 412 4322) to 25 Sep