Stars and Stripes (and Trocks) Forever

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“You can’t force Lucille Ball to be Gracie Allen” and other lessons from the artistic director of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, which returns to the Joyce Theater this week.

by Gia Kourlas (The New York Times)
photo credit: Sasha Arutuyunova for The New York Times

Every two years, December gets a little brighter when the dancers of the all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo fasten their tutus, lace up their point shoes and leap into the Joyce Theater with all the grandiose absurdity they can muster. But this company, revered for injecting humor into classical ballet, amounts to more than a stream of jokes: Its dancers have technical chops.

Led by the artistic director Tory Dobrin, the group, at the Joyce through Dec. 30, has a robust repertory that slyly skews classics like “Swan Lake” and “The Little Humpbacked Horse.” This season, after a 15-year break, the Trocks, as the troupe is known, revive Robert La Fosse’s sparkling “Stars and Stripes Forever” (inspired by George Balanchine’s 1958 ballet) and present two new pas de deux: “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux,” a stand-alone work — again, after Balanchine — and “Harlequinade.”

Recently, Mr. Dobrin spoke about “Stars and Stripes,” how not to lose your face and how dancing in drag has gone from career wrecker to career choice. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Read full interview