It shouldn’t really be possible to recreate the glories of the Russian Imperial ballet with such severely limited means. Classical ballet — as any cash-strapped artistic director will tell you — cannot be produced on the cheap and yet here are the Trocks with minimal scenery, taped music, budget tutus and hairy chests conjuring up the great ballets and ballerinas of the past.
The New York company opened its seven-week UK tour with the usual tried-and-tested formula that cunningly combined old favourites with more recherché treasures.
Like Ninette de Valois, Trocks director Tory Dobrin knows that Swan Lake Act II is the ideal Trojan horse, allowing any number of less box-office-friendly performances to be smuggled on to the programme. The Trocks’ Ivanov parody, with its deft blend of pirouettes and pratfalls is also a perfect way of softening up the audience for the subtler comedy to follow.
The middle section of Wednesday’s programme included the pas de deux from Harlequinade. Miscasting can sink this soufflé of a duet but Nina Enimenimynimova (alias Long Zou) with her pin-sharp feet and fluttering fingers managed to be both winsome and witty and was manhandled with deadpan efficiency by Takaomi Yoshino’s Boris Dumbkopf (“one of the first defective Russian male stars”).
One-time Trock and arch-pasticheur Peter Anastos choreographed the Le Corsaire-like Trovatiara pas de cinq. This piratical romp features the statuesque Eugenia Repelskii (Joshua Thake) kept in play by two diminutive sidekicks in fezzes and foustanelles (outlaw “cultural appropriation” and most of the classical repertoire would be danced in track suits).
The evening closed with Elena Kunikova’s sincere and silly staging of the underwater scene from Petipa’s Little Humpbacked Horse. It was a chance for Olga Supphozova (Bobby Carter) to show off her gargouillades and for the eerily well-matched Enimenimynimova and Snizova (Carlos Hopuy) and to zip through the “Corals” duet, punctuating their hops on pointe and dizzy fouettés with coy smiles and batted lashes, inviting us to share in the fiction that these marvels are a painless pleasure. Technique is all very well but the Trocks, as always, are a comedy masterclass in style.