Reviews

Satin Shoes and Sassy Swans

Emily Sese, TheaterJones
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Photo by Sascha Vaughan

The always terrific Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo landed for an unforgettable performance at the Irving Arts Center.

On an otherwise quiet Tuesday night, the Irving Arts Center was bursting with laughter and applause—the responsible party? Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo. This all-male ballet troupe wowed audience members with their pointe technique, hilarious exchanges, and theatrical production.

The Trocks opened the show with a parody of the classic ballet Swan Lake. Swan Lake, Act II juxtaposes this magical tale with realistic comedic elements. Prince Siegfried attempts to rescue his sassy Swan Queen, but is deterred by fluttering swans with wardrobe malfunctions, jumbled formations, and exaggerated falls. The Trocks acknowledge their occasional lack of delicacy and grace as men portraying women by cleverly turning their faults into good-humored blunders. These purposeful mistakes create a humorous variation to the familiar story.

Shifting to modern repertoire, the Trocks examine the relationship amongst dancers, musicians, and novel creativity in Patterns in Space. Two company members dressed in black pose as serious musicians as three other dancers in teal, gold, and red unitards stoically contract and release around the stage. One by one, the musicians pull out ridiculous “instruments” and lovingly mock the new age sound of modern dance. They gargle water, blow kazoos, and yell animal sounds while the dancers engage in pedestrian walks, rigid lifts, and somber C-curves.

Returning to classical ballet, La Trovatiara Pas De Cinq references Giuseppe Verdi’s lighthearted opera based on dancing pirate girls. Three dancers in brightly colored pirate dresses tease their male companions as they tiptoe en pointe, steal their swords, and make faces behind their backs. Whimsical and lively, this piece illuminated the cheeky personalities of each company member while also showcasing their powerful pirouettes and expansive leaps.

A variation of Ana Pavlova’s Dying Swan solo, The Swan features a soloist in a glittering, feathery white tutu. She bourees in lines across the stage as her arms flap in a birdlike fashion. Each step causes feathers to fall from her skirt, leaving a trail of white to cover the stage. The dancer sparks laughter when she lifts her leg too high and pretends to throw out her back. Hobbling with her hands on her back, wiping her brow, and panting dramatically, she reveals the less glamorous side of ballet.

Paquita, the show’s closer, served as the technical high point of the evening. Filling the space with ten dancers acting as the corps, Nina Enimenimynimova as soloist ballerina, and Boris Mudko as her cavalier, the piece immediately commanded attention by the sheer number of dancers. Dancers in red and purple tutus stumble to find the correct formation while the soloist screams in surprise when her cavalier touches her from behind. In their duet, he drops her in a lift and the ballerina points to the floor, ordering him to do pushups for his mistake. These planned accidents continue to induce giggling from the audience. Nina Enimenimynimova’s virtuoso fouetté turn section left viewers hanging on the edge of their seats and functioned as a thrilling climax to the night.

While the show ran long, the audience seemed engaged from start to finish. The comical acting and embellished slipups carried the evening. Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo’s playful approach to classical ballet highlighted the technical beauty and strength of the art while also poking fun at traditional gender roles and stylistic choices.

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