The New York-based comedy troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, or the Trocks to its fans, has arrived in London to launch a UK tour that runs into November. And can’t we all do with a good laugh? That’s the raison d’être of this all-male ensemble as they trip lightly through some of the best-loved classics in the repertoire — and some works less well known. Even if you don’t fancy a chuckle at the sight of grown men in tutus and tiaras dancing their hearts out, you can appreciate this tribute to the glories of 19th-century Russian ballet.
Their first programme (there are two for this London season) opens with the most trusted ballet in their repertoire. Yet despite the familiarity and danger of cliché, the second act of Swan Lake, Trocks-style (the choreography is more or less Ivanov), still elicits oohs and ahhs of delight from the audience. The exaggerated make-up, the larger-than-life gestures, the tumbles and tantrums, the fractious swans, a clownish Benno and a camp-as-Christmas Prince all add up to goofy good fun. Yet that pales beside the outstanding performance of Carlos Hopuy as Odette. So fine is his dancing — and so fabulous his ballerina feet — that only the toothy grin and beefy biceps give him away.
The Harlequinade pas de deux is low on comedy and high on charm thanks to some adorable performances by Long Zou and Takaomi Yoshino. Trovatiara Pas de Cinq, choreographed by Peter Anastos, is a spoof of 19th-century opera ballet (the music is Verdi), especially of the pirate variety, with lashings of broad humour and rubbery scimitars. The Dying Swan is the jewel in the Trocks’ tiara, a silly solo that conjures images of a moulting Anna Pavlova — or, in this case, a cross-dressing Duane Gosa.
The final part of the evening is The Little Humpback Horse, a Russian fairytale ballet (music by Pugni) that features a set of divertissements in a scene set underwater. It’s vivacious, twee and twinkly, and the jolly costumes look as if they spilt out of a box of crayons. As well as giggles, the Trocks deliver an impressive display of pointe work — fouetté turns included. Not bad for the boys who would be ballerinas.