Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Birmingham Hippodrome

Neil Norman, The Express
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Ghiselin plays the dying swan

The gentlemen of the Trocks have been entertaining us for nearly 40 years. In that time they have risen from their origins in a New York loft to become one of the greatest acts on the planet.

By the time their 40th birthday rolls around they ought to be designated an “international treasure”. They make you believe that the Statue of Liberty is a drag queen.

The secret behind their unique appeal is the balance between their comic pastiche and sheer skill. I have said this before but it is worth repeating: not only can The Trocks dance really well they can dance really well like women. Pointe work, arabesques, floating arms and feminine gestures are executed with a grace and elegance that would not shame a genuinely gendered ballerina. The facial expressions provide much of the incidental humour when they are not bumping into each other, missing cues or sliding unwittingly out of position.

The opening number here Les Sylphides is a case in point. A long piece with the company in white tutus and a self-absorbed Prince it is hysterically funny but also beautifully executed. They can surprise at will, as when a dozy member of the corps sleepwalks off the edge of the stage. The central section, with three works in quick succession, ended with Ida Nevasayneva’s legendary Dying Swan in which Paul Ghiselin cavorts across the stage in a flurry of falling feathers, Twiglet limbs and exaggerated gestures.

No Trocks show is complete without his sublimely grotesque act and I dread the day Ghiselin finally hangs up his pointe shoes.

The Black Swan pas de deux, Odile (Yakatarina Verbosovich/ Chase Johnsey) and her Prince (Innokenti Smoktumuchsky/ Carlos Hopuy) being moved around the stage by an absurdly coiffured Von Rothbart (Marat Legupski/Giovanni Ravelo) is performed with such drop-dead brilliance that Johnsey even manages the 32 fouettés in a performance that would pass muster on the stage of Covent Garden, in spite of being administered oxygen at the end.

The concluding Walpurgis Night is a Bacchanalian romp with horny little devils, Pan’s People perhaps, cavorting with miscellaneous maidens in a kind of celebratory feast. It is not only exquisitely danced but rises to a climax of Fokine-like intensity that is genuinely exciting. OMG! If they carry on like this we are going to have to start taking these guys seriously.

The Express