Belly laughs with Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – Financial Times ★★★★☆

Louise Levene, Financial Times
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The brilliant — and brilliantly funny — all-male troupe returns to the Peacock Theatre, London
Louise Levene
Are we having fun yet? To judge from my inbox, half the shows in production are hoping to explore
domestic violence, BLM, climate change and the cost of living crisis via the expressive medium of
dance. Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, who began their two-month UK tour with a two-week
residency at the Peacock Theatre on Tuesday, have a far more serious, far more challenging agenda:
Both London programmes are a tried and tested mix of old favourites and novelties crafted with the
Trocks’ unique blend of balletomania and belly laughs. The first mixed bill opens with Swan Lake act
two led by Takaomi Yoshino in the guise of Varvara Laptopova (“awarded first prize at the Pan-
Siberian Festival for artistic misinterpretation”) making her British debut.
Trocks ballerinas have consistently amazed audiences with the strength and quality of their
pointework since their first teetering pas de bourrée off-off Broadway in 1974, but in the 35 years I
have been watching them I’ve seldom seen an Odette as technically assured as the Vaganova-
trained Yoshino: feathery beaten steps, freeze-frame balances and funny.
His loyal corps of swans deliver their sight gags with tireless wit. Robert Carter (aka Olga
Supphozova) has been delivering the same jokes for 27 years but I still laugh out loud. His arthritic,
applause-hungry Dying Swan was a triumph of physical comedy, his entire body seeming to change
size and shape at will.
Swans (living and dead) are the backbone of the first mixed bill, but the Trocks’ repertoire is
extensive, ranging from a send-up of Leonid Lavrovsky’s Walpurgisnacht (“a specimen of Soviet
balletic camp”) to Nightcrawlers, a hilarious spoof of Jerome Robbins’ Chopin ballet In the Night,
wickedly choreographed by founding Trock Peter Anastos, a parodist of genius. Written as a
companion piece to his equally hilarious Yes, Virginia, Another Piano Ballet, Nightcrawlers features
the mysterious comings and goings of three couples in evening dress, gleefully sending up Robbins’
mix-and-match pairwork and half-glimpsed love tragedies.
The ballerinas inevitably hog the limelight but every Trock also has a male alter ego: Jacques
D’aniels, Boris Dumbkopf and the legendary Legupski brothers. The Trocks’ danseurs provide a pin-
sharp pastiche of all this — think Vladimir Vasiliev with a pinch of Tsiskaridze. Mismatched couples
offer an easy laugh but Jake Speakman, a fun-size porteur dwarfed by his Amazonian ballerinas
(Duane Gosa and Joshua Thake) in the pitch-perfect Swan Lake pas de trois, is a painful reminder of
just how hard it can be to dead-lift 100lbs (let alone 140).
As Siegfried in Swan Lake act two, Dmitri Legupski (Giovanni Goffredo) makes his way centre stage
with that teasing, foot-dragging walk (© R Nureyev) as if about to dazzle us with a solo variation,
only to keep right on going and exit via the opposite wing. The Nureyev gala, only a few blocks away
in Drury Lane, showcases the many aspects of male classical dancing — flashy, refined, introspective
— and the preening powerplay between tights and tutu. The Trocks play exactly the same game —
but they play it for laughs.

★★★★☆  To September 17 then touring to October 29,

The brilliant- and brilliantly funny- all-male troupe returns to the Peacock Theatre, London.