LES BALLETS TROCKADERO DE MONTE CARLO was founded in 1974 by New York City-based ballet enthusiasts in order to present a playful, entertaining view of traditional, classical ballet in parody form and with men performing all of the roles – and in the case of roles usually danced by women: en travesti and en pointe. Founders Peter Anastos, Anthony Bassae, and Natch Taylor broke away from Larry Ree’s Gloxinia Trockadero Ballet to create a dance- and choreography-focused company. They put on their first shows on the makeshift stage of the West Side Discussion Group, an early gay and lesbian political organization, which was led by future Trockadero General Director Eugene McDougle. The performances were infused with a subversive edge as the country was still a long way from bringing drag performance to a mainstream audience. 

The Trocks, as they are affectionately known, soon garnered critical acclaim and cultural cachet in publications with major reach, such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, and the Village Voice. By mid-1975, the company’s inspired blend of dance knowledge, comedy, and athleticism, moved beyond New York City when the Trocks qualified for the National Endowment for the Arts Touring Program, hired a full-time teacher and ballet mistress, AND made its first extended tours of the United States and Canada. Packing, unpacking, and repacking tutus and drops, stocking giant-sized toe shoes by the case, and running for planes and chartered buses all became routine parts of life. They have been going non-stop ever since, appearing in 43 countries and more than 660 cities worldwide. The company branched out from the vibrant live performances and expanded its scope with an education program in 2016 and the Choreography Institute in November 2023.  With so much activity, the Trocks have garnered a dedicated fan base, repeating performances in countries year after year, and continuing to add first-time engagements as the company enters its 50th Anniversary season.

The Trocks in the 1970's and 2020. Photo (right) by Vladimir Kevorkov.

Interest and accolades have accumulated over the years. The Trocks have proved an alluring documentary subject, featured in an Emmy-winning episode of the acclaimed British arts program The South Bank Show;  the 2017 feature film Rebels on Pointe; and most recently Ballerina Boys, which aired on PBS American Masters in 2021. Several of the Trocks’ performances at the Maison de la Danse in Lyon, France, were also aired by Dutch, French and Japanese TV networks. Other television appearances have ranged from a Shirley MacLaine special to the Dick Cavett Show, What’s My Line?, Real People, and On-Stage America.  The dancers also have the distinction of appearing with Kermit and Miss Piggy on Muppet Babies.

The company’s awards include a prestigious UK Critics Circle National Dance Award for Best Classical Repertoire (2007) and nomination for Outstanding Company (2016), the UK Theatrical Managers Award (2006); and the Positano Award for Excellence in Dance (2007, Italy). The company has appeared in multiple galas and benefits over the years, including at the 80th anniversary Royal Variety Performance to aid the Entertainment Artistes’ Benevolent Fund in December 2008, which was attended by members of the British Royal family, including the (now) King Charles III.

The original concept of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo has not changed. It is a company of professional male dancers performing the full range of ballet and modern dance repertoire, including classical and original works in faithful renditions of the manners and conceits of those dance styles. The comedy is achieved by incorporating and exaggerating the foibles, accidents, and underlying incongruities of serious dance.  Muscular, athletic bodies delicately balancing on toes as swans, sylphs, water sprites, romantic princesses, and angst-ridden Victorian ladies enhance the appreciation for the art form, delighting die-hard ballet fans and newcomers alike.

Looking to the future, the Trocks are making plans for new commissions, new debuts, and new audiences, while continuing the company’s original mission: to bring the pleasure of dance to the widest possible audience.  

The company will, as they have for 50 years, “keep on Trockin’.”