Heroines of Ballet, Heroically Funny

Gia Kourlas, New York Times
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For the second program of its season at the Joyce Theater, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo on Friday night offered another interpretation of the “Dying Swan” (Paul Ghiselin’s droll Ida Nevasayneva) and a repeat performance of the “Corsaire” pas de deux for Yakatarina Verbosovich (Chase Johnsey) and Jacques d’Aniels (Scott Austin). They tore up the stage.

In this most unusual company, which specializes in the comedy of ballet, the dancers, each equipped with a female and male persona, are men. The variety is stunning. Mr. Johnsey may be the prettiest, most delicate Trock of them all, while as Myrtha, the queen of the Wilis in Act II of “Giselle,” Minnie van Driver (Joseph Jefferies) looks more like a linebacker lording over the stage with imperiousness and impatience. Standing on point, Mr. Jefferies leans precariously to the side before fluttering across the stage in prickly bourrée steps and ordering Giselle (Raffaele Morra’s Lariska Dumbchenko) to keep dancing, or else.

Here the Wilis are ghoulishly funny creatures that fit right in with Edward Gorey’s décor, highlighted by a drop of weeping willows in the manner of the Addams family’s Cousin Itt. This rendition of the ballet may be a riot — after Giselle returns to her coffin, Albert dives in after her — but it’s not slight, and the dancing, in which airy Romantic lightness is accented with male vigor, is full of brazen details.

In “Go for Barocco,” a classic Trockadero dance created by Peter Anastos in 1974, the year the group was formed, the company takes on Balanchine as epitomized by his “Concerto Barocco.” The Trockadero dancers never hide their strength, but here their pointwork takes on a more vigorous bravura that sparkles alongside comic references to Balanchine ballets: swishing arms, rapid walking, and bodies that tangle and untangle in mini-mazes.

In the closing “Paquita,” the company addresses the 19th-century French style. Robert Carter, the company’s unofficial fouetté queen, whips off dozens of turns in this tutu dreamland as Olga Supphozova. From the Trocks, it’s just another night at the theater: a program accessible to balletomanes and neophytes, and wholly spectacular.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo continues performances through Jan. 4, 2009 at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, at 19th Street, Chelsea; (212) 242-0800 or