We visit the world’s premiere drag ballet company just as an alum’s Drag Race success garners them fresh attention.
by Paul Hagen (metrosource.com)
The arts of Ballet and drag share some surface similarities. Creatures of impossible beauty take to the stage, where they create art through stylized movement and eye-catching costumes. Yet in other key ways, they diverge. Ballet requires years of rigorous formal training, in which adhering to rules earns opportunities to exhibit one’s skills. Meanwhile, the path to a drag career often involves experimenting – to find venues, audiences and styles that best suits the performer. They may join forces with colleagues and mentors to learn and grow, though rarely in something as formal as a school. And often a drag queen’s biggest success comes from breaking the rules.
Yet for decades, there has been a place where drag and ballet meet: Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (affectionately nicknamed “the Trocks” ). We spoke to their Artistic Director Tory Dobrin and dancer Duane Gosa about where the company has been and where it’s going. They revealed the unique triumphs and challenges of a career in drag ballet — from losing toenails to losing partners, and how they’ve kept on dancing through it all.
Along Came Brooke
Forty-five years ago, a group of ballet enthusiasts came together to form a dance experience unlike any other. Over time, they’ve seen extraordinary changes in how society regards LGBTQ rights, drag and dance. Then this year, along came RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11. The fact that Trocks alum Brock Hayhoe (a.k.a. Brooke Lynn Hytes) was the season’s runner-up has shone a new light on the company’s special place in the world of drag.
“Brock was a great guy and he danced with us [until] he didn’t want to tour anymore and he started doing drag in clubs,” remembers Dobrin, who joined the dance troupe as a performer in 1980 before going on to become artistic director. “We were super-thrilled,” he adds. “He comes across as very nice and chill and that’s exactly who he is.”
“I think that it’s kind of cool that she has brought something that we do to a mainstream audience,” says Gosa – who joined the Trocks at 27 and has been dancing with them for six years now. “A couple of episodes when she mentioned the company on the show, I got so many messages from people that I met all over the world.” How would Gosa judge Brooke’s performance? “She really did well on the show — very impressive drag queen, very talented — which I think really helped for people to be even more excited about what we do.”Read full article