Two programmes at the Peacock Theater, London

Charles Hedges, Dance UK
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The Trocks are back after a couple of years absence.  We’ve missed them.  Swan Lake, Act 2 has never been the same since seeing their version several years ago, and it gets even better.  Sveltlana Lofatkina’s (Fernando Medina Gallego) first entry on stage, with a wide grin to make sure we notice “her” superb line, is electrifying.  Backed by a full corps of eight swans, “she” is excited by the tall blonde-wigged Prince and their pas de deux is tear-jerking.  Evil von Rothbart (Vellour Pilleaux/ Paul Ghiselin) can be a bit too camp but that matches the moment when a corps dancer finds “herself” a couple of paces out of line but realizes that s impel back flip will land “her” back in formation.  Boris Nowitsky’s (Christopher Lam) Benno is a shade too short to cope but her supports his friend the Prince, with vigour.  Each time I see this adaptation, I marvel at how it subtly changes and improves, and how much funnier it gets in the process.

The pas de trois des Odalisques from Petipa’s Le Corsaire is a scintillating piece for three ballerinas.  Olga Supphozova (Robert Carter), Lariska Dumbchenko (Raffaele Morra) and Yakatarina Verbosovich (Chase Johnsey) take each of the showy solos and, apart from the few little bits of fun which almost seen part of the original choreography, you would not necessarily realise that these are all male dancers using pointe work, multiple fouettes and delicate epaulement.  These dancers are brilliant in executing their steps and conveying the correct mood.

La Trovatiara pas de cinq, set to Verdi’s Il Trovatore’ ballet, was certainly a delicious divertissement.  The opening pas de trois for Katarina Bychkova (who could believe “she” was danced by Joshua Grand who had played the Prince in Swan Lake?), a tall “lady” with two short lads to support her, gives an indication of the Trocks humour, but it needs more viewings to gain its full flavour.  There is a slight parody of a Pavlova variation but we must wait for the Majisimas to see really stunning work.  In this adaptation of the ballet within Massenet’s opera “Le Cid” Supphozova’s traveling pirouettes are amazing.

Pavlova’s dying swan appears in both programmes, danced by the wonderful Ida Nevasayneva (Paul Ghiselin, the company’s ballet master).  I don’t recall how many times I have seen this brilliant performance (on DVD too) but I am always dumbfounded by the slight differences from night to night that produce the same result – tears of laughter.  A tutu shedding hundreds of feathers, eyes that seem larger than the dancers’ face (probably the length of the eyelashes…) and a curtain call that is longer than the performance.

Another gentle target is Giselle, Act 2.  The Queen of the Willis (Minnie van Driver / Joseph Jefferies) has a foot high lily coming out of the top of her head and leads a corps that has no delicacy in its hops (their timing is often deliberately out).  Moyna (Christopher Lam) gloriously grimaces during her solo and the attendant Willis have claw like stabs with their hands.  Dumbchenko’s Giselle has the hairiest chest you’ve ever seen but dances like thistledown.  I liked the rather dim Albrecht of Fernando Medina Gallego (he had been Odette!); he seemed nonplussed that he couldn’t seem to catch hold of his girl.  Hilarion (Vladimir Legupski / Claude Gamba) escapes his usual fate by being chased into the theatre stalls and manages to tiptoe out of the auditorium in time for his curtain calls.  Giselle’s tomb plays a big part as well opening and closing for her to make her entries and it swallows up both lovers in the final moments.

Supphozova and Nowitsky perform the Diana and Acteon pas de deux in the original choreography with the ballerina sporting her tiny bow throughout (as she should) shooting imaginary arrows all about. Nowitsky almost equaled Carlos Acosta in his bravura and he’s a splendid partner.  her signature fouettes with every third one a double, left one in no doubt that her technique is formidable.  Tall Bychkova, partnered by short Araf Legupski (Camilo Rodriquez) (he comes up to her armpits) braved the “after” Balanchine Vivaldi Suite.  In the following and final work, the Underwater scene from the Little Humpbacked Horse, Bychkova becomes Ashley Romanoff-Titwillow, so we can see Joshua Grant showing off the different aspects of his technical fortes — he’s the Genie of the Underworld supporting the ubiquitous Supphozova as the Queen of the same.  The corps of Seaweed, assorted Corals, Starfish and a Goldfish make this colorful and rate divert to Gorsky and Petipa’s choreography great fun and you can ask no more from these purveyors of a certain kind of crazy magic.

The Trocks are in Bradford and Birmingham at the beginning of November and continue their UK tour to eight other venues between mid-February and to mid-March 2009.