Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, at Salford, review

Louise Levene, The Telegraph
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Male divas: The Trocks in 'Walpurgis Night'

America’s all-male ballet parodists proved once again they have the technique to go with the humour

It must be 10 years – more – since she first vowed to quit the ballet stage but, true to her name, Ida Nevasayneva, prima ballerina assoluta of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, was back in the feathered frock to kill off the old bird one last time.

The Dying Swan is the role that Mme Nevasayneva, aka 50-something Trocks balletmaster Paul Ghiselin, was born to dance. His wiry, emaciated limbs fold into Fokine’s choreography like 12 chicken wings into a tray, and the unforgettable profile – like a wicked caricature of Pavlova herself – wins belly laughs with minimum effort.  Once a metaphor for the ageing ballerina raging against dwindling technique and inevitable retreat from the life-giving limelight, Ghiselin transforms the solo into a sublime gloss on the work itself, which continues to haunt the repertoire – everything from ballet galas to ITV’s dismal Mr Selfridge – long after its fragrance has evaporated.

The Dying Swan is one of the highlights of the Trocks’ latest UK tour, which began at the Salford Lowry on Tuesday with the usual brilliantly-paced programme of classical pastiche. The Romantic white tutus and unseemly behaviour of Les Sylphides put the audience in party mood with a clever blend of pratfalls and virtuosity.

Yakaterina Verbosovich (aka Chase Johnsey) has a fine gliding pas de bourrée and Olga Supphozova (Robert Carter) has a free-spinning double pirouette that many a struggling soloist would kill for.

The Trocks appeal to the mainstream with their cheerful and uncomplicated send-ups of classical pretensions, but the joke would soon wear thin if the slapstick weren’t underpinned by strong technique, daily class and a profound love of their material.

When a big, hairy-chested Trock ballerina executes a familiar variation, we suddenly see classical ballet writ large, and it’s an oddly moving experience – reminding us how big and strong this seemingly fragile artform needs to be.

Bottle-blond bombshell Viacheslav Legupski (new signing Paolo Cervellera) instinctively understands that utter seriousness is the secret of physical comedy and all but stole Les Sylphides with his far-away gaze and absent-minded partnering.

The 39-year-old troupe has always been most famous for its divas but their preening porteurs are just as strong.

The Telegraph