For more than three decades the Trocks, as this New York-based troupe is fondly known, have demonstrated that it is those who love an art form the most who are best placed to parody it. In their case it is dance, and particularly old-school ballet, that is scrutinised and affectionately skewered by men in tutus, pointe shoes and loads of slap.
Revisiting the company’s rib-tickling signature piece, Swan Lake (Act 2) is like spotting new wrinkles on an old and hilarious friend. On opening night this was mainly down to the performances of Sveltlana Lofatkina (Fernando Medina Gallego), whose piquant Odette slipped expertly between quasi-fragile femininity and butch frustration, and Ashley Romanoff-Titwillow (Joshua Grant), a strapping blond Prince with an alarming resemblance to Peggy Lee.
The camp antics of the swan corps can still induce tears of mirth. By the same token it was good to see again the Dying Swan of Ida Nevasayneva (Paul Ghiselin), a three-minute masterpiece of comic pathos in which the bird moults extravagantly, wobblingly pops her clogs and, resurrecting herself, milks the applause for all it’s worth.
The Trocks are serious about what they send up. That these blokes truly dance well, even on pointe, is one of the keys to the company’s longevity. Fans will be glad to know that the London run boasts new repertory. The pinnacle of next week’s mixed bill could well be the underwater scene from The Little Humpback Horse.
Although it never quite reached euphoric heights of giddiness, the first programme also holds several fresh, fun items. Pas de Trois des Odalisques is a sparkling showcase for three gracious ballerinas in glittery green tutus: Yakaterina Verbosovich (Chase Johnsey, girlishly pretty), Lariska Dumbchenko (Raffaele Morra, a spry head-shaker) and Olga Supphozova (Robert Carter, all lush coquetry).
The highlight of La Trovatiara, an agreeably silly pas de cinq retrieved from a supposedly lost Verdi opera, is the disparity between the towering Katarina Bychkova (Grant in his female guise) and the two male Lilliputians jointly partnering her.
The evening ends on a note of unexpectedly pleasurable sobriety with Majisimas, an ensemble dance deftly choreographed by Morra to music from Massenet’s Le Cid. Featuring a pack of fan-wielding señoritas and their attentive swains it is played, pardon the expression, straight and with no little flair.
Box office: 0844 412 4322 (www.sadlerswells.com). Until Oct 4, 2008 then touring. (www.worldwidedanceuk.com)