Thursday, September 16, 2010
Peacock, London, UK
Their hearts belong to tutus and tiaras, their souls to the Russian ballet and their dreams to dancing swans and sylphs. So what if their feet are wrapped in size 12 pointe shoes? Yes, the world’s greatest boy ballerinas are back, and how can you resist? For more than 35 years Les Ballets Trockadero, the New York-based en travesti troupe, has been making us laugh. Their affectionate parodies and entertaining comedy have visited all corners of the earth, and London is a favourite destination.
If you have seen them before you will recognise the pratfalls and silly asides, the diva antics and jokey commentary. Which gives you the space to appreciate the commitment and joy that this all-male troupe brings to its performances, and the sheer delight of its repertoire.
How often is Raymonda represented on our stages? Or La Vivandière ? Or Les Millions D’Arlequin (ever?). The Trocks have recreated highlights for our delectation and there are moments in the first programme (there are two on offer at the Peacock) when the kidding around evaporates and their love of classical ballet shines through.
In ChopEniana (Fokine’s Les Sylphides to you and me) there are charming tracings of Romantic ethereality — hard to achieve when you are a big bloke in a frock. It’s the way the Trocks accentuate the delicacy and femininity (I know!) of the choreography that brings them into sharp and unexpected focus. In Grand Pas Classique (choreography by Gsovsky) Chase Johnsey delivers a bravura performance so graceful, polished and pure that I totally bought into his ballerina persona.
There are men who will be men, of course — a ballerina needs her partner — and they come in varying guises. In ChopEniana he’s effete and hilariously self-absorbed; in the Vivandière Pas de Six he’s an outstanding classicist in the shape of Long Zou (a truly beautiful mover) paired with a “ballerina” almost twice his size.
For variety there’s a tribute to Merce Cunningham, whose stripped clean modernist aesthetic is opposed to everything the Trocks stand for (the best part of it is the music, a laugh at John Cage’s expense). For broad comedy there’s The Dying Swan, with Paul Ghiselin moulting extravagantly and milking his audience shamelessly. Raymonda’s Wedding provides a grand closer, and quite rightly too. For no matter how much they take the mickey, dancing is what this show is all about.