Ballets Trockadero on its toes where laughs are concerned

Rick Nelson, Star Tribune
Posted on

A welcome diversion from the war rumblings, the dreary economy and the subzero weather is right up the Pantages Theater in downtown Minneapolis. It’s the “Saturday Night Live” of the ballet world: Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.

The satire painted by this 29 year old, all male dance troupe is applied in both broad and subtle strokes. The comedy works because the dancers’ technical prowess goes far beyond what the conceit of guys in tutus might initially suggest. These are artists who can toss off a dozen rapid fire fouettes in their size 13 pointe shoes without turning a hair on their bunheaded wigs. They’re also funnier than all Time Fey/Jimmy Fallon episode of “SNL.”

Two mixed bill programs demonstrate the company’s wide comedic range. The hugely entertaining “Swan Lake” deftly manages to affectionately spoof the classic dance drama without forsaking its iconic essence. It does so primarily by retaining the bones of Lev Ivanov’s original second act staging including the poignant Odette/Siegfried adagio and the buoyant cygnets’ pas de quatre. But this ain’t the Bolshoi. As Odette, the statuesque Nadia Rombova (Jai Williams) cleverly mines the character’s bottomless comic possibilities while infusing the role with its signature iron-fisted grace. There are moments so genuinely mesmerizing it’s easy to forget that you’re not watching a ballerina, until you take notice of the alarmingly broad shoulders, the mile long arabesques, the busy armpit hair and the calculatingly campy Miss Teen USA pageant smile. And the visual gags by the truckload.

Even those unfamiliar with “Seranade,” “Apollo,” “Agon,” and “Concerto Barocco,” the plotless Balanchine classic it most closely resembles, will find pleasure in “Go for Barocco.” Ballet insiders will appreciate the piece’s good natured pokes at the 20th Century master, and novices will enjoy it for choreographer Peter Anastos’ fine honed dance making craftsmanship.

Through a seamless encapsulation of what amounts to a Balanchine Hit Parade, Anastos tiptoes between loving homage and naughty parody. The poise, energetic cast ­ led by Olga Suppohozova (Robert Carter) and Gerd Tord (Bernd Burgmaier) ­ breezily embodies the Balanchine style, wickedly magnifying it to comic proportions.

The solo “Dying Swan,” a paean to Anna Pavlova and her excesses, is a little comic miracle, right down to Lariska Dumchenko’s (Raffaele Morra) sly curtain call and Mike Gonzales’ witty costume. Sylphia Belchick (Carlos Garcia) and the artist formerly known as Prince Myshkin (Fernando Medina) toss off the pas de deux from “Le Corsaire” with a delicious, over the top bravura. The evening ends with a bang: the vivacious “Raymonda’s Wedding,” a splashy Humgarian goulash tailor made for this happiest of dance companies.