We laugh. Actually, we laugh a lot – from wee giggles to great big, spontaneous guffaws. We laugh at Les Sylphides, Paquita, even the Dying Swan: elite classics of 19th century Imperial Russian ballet – and thanks to the Trocks (as the company is fondly referred to, worldwide) we’re allowed to laugh out loud at how the mighty can fall in the sudden slip of a pointe-shoe, a wrong turn, a missed cue or an on-stage spat between rival ballerinas.
As ever, the moments of spoofery are cleverly placed, bringing a whiff of vaudeville into otherwise meticulously observed choreographies. The jokes, folks, are a savvy foil to what the Trocks do best of all: they dance, on pointe, with a flair and technique that many conventional ballerinas would be proud of – the difference being that the Trocks are all men. You can come close to forgetting that fact when you see Nina Enimenimynimova (Long Zou) take centre-stage in Paquita, whisking through multiple fouettes. Impressive, yes, but so too is Nina’s personna: dainty, graceful – and exasperated when her Cavalier (Boris Mudko/Giovanni Ravelo) proves too weedy to hold her high in overhead lifts. Throughout this programme, what the Trocks do with tongue-in-cheek sass is come on as strong, talented women, partnered by ineffectual, ridiculously disengaged men who clearly don’t want to play second fiddle. It’s a lovely bit of mischievous role-reversal by the guys who’ve previously been the ballerina’s ‘support’ in other companies. It’s a treat to watch Joshua Thake (Eugenia Repelskii) towering over her two comically smaller male companions in the buckle-your-swash antics of La Trovatiara Pas de Cinq, a lost gem (apparently) from a still elusive Verdi opera. As for Robert Carter’s Dying Swan, caught between panic and pathos as he moults flurries of feathers – it’s heartland Trocks territory, where laughter actually makes you aware of the artistry behind it all.Read more