There’s a glorious logic to the fact that the Trocks, an all-male ballet troupe, camp as Christmas, have become guardians of the fragile curios of the classical repertory. Take Petipa’s carnival romp, Les Millions d’Arlequin (1900), which as far as I know hasn’t appeared on the straight ballet stage in aeons. With its skippily exuberant Harlequin and friends, and a Columbine as cutely winsome as a porcelain figurine, the work’s sugar content is now way too high for a modern audience.
But given the Trocks’s treatment of sharp-eyed pastiche and comic spin, the ballet gets a robust and weirdly credible reincarnation. There’s a lot of recognisable Petipa on stage, and all the tricks of parody (the exaggerated head tilts and gestural flourishes) simply focus the accuracy of the choreography’s reconstruction. Even when the Trocks let rip with their own physical gags, they never stray far from the ballet’s own world.
The four “ballerinas” are danced by the heftier members of the company, towering over their smaller men. When they suddenly swap roles mid-phrase and cheerfully hoist the men up on to their shoulders, the joke doesn’t break the ballet’s stride. It simply plays out as an extension of the perfect partnering manners that were expected in the Imperial Russian Ballet of Petipa’s day.
Also in this second programme is the Trocks’s version of the old Soviet ballet Valpurgeyeva Noch (Walpurgis Night). Again, the company pull off a brilliant double trick – giving us views of the original Lavrovsky choreography but fractured through their own comic lens. The quartet of fauns scamper with preposterous, effete randiness; the Nymphs get caught up in their floaty bri-nylon veils; the Maidens chomp through their bunches of grapes. And Bacchus, in the middle of it all, looks deliciously confused.The Guardian