The glad word goes out: “They’re back!” And there they are, corseted, mascaraed to within an inch of blindness, chest-hair peeping from a bodice, feet constrained in pink satin: the Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, custodians of a hallowed tradition of travesty performance, loving the art they serve, are back at the Peacock Theatre.
I adore their capers, and can forgive their sometimes basic jokiness because they know a great deal about ballet, and love it to bits. These dancers bend gender and, Heaven knows, they also bend choreography, from a passion not dissimilar to that which has driven balletomanes, such as your critic, to that obsessive devotion for classical dancing which marks our breed.
In a first programme this week, the Trocks are at their manic best. Their Chopiniana is a gruesome approximation of Les Sylphides, in which the night breezes that sustain the dance are replaced by gusts of laughter, and it is not quite up there with the Trocks’ best achievements.
But the succeeding posy of divertissements is splendid, with a parody of Merce Cunningham that is almost too close for comfort. Brock Hayhoe is an echt Cunningham chap in that boldly shaped and rather blank manner, and he had earlier been a deep-frozen Poet in Chopiniana, wigged with a platinum tea-cosy and manhandling the girls with a certain reluctance. The faux-Cunningham musicians (Fernando Media Gallego and a very intense Raffaele Morra) deal a deathblow to the real thing.
There followed the charms of the Gsovsky Grand Pas Classique, which once celebrated the chic of Yvette Chauviré in the arms of the elegant Vladimir Skouratov. Chase Johnsey does very well in what remains of the choreography, and I prefer him to Sylvia Guillem in the role. The sextet from La Vivandière is also taken to the cleaners, notably by Joshua Grant, who is radiant in the arms of Long Zou, several sizes smaller but gallant with it. Ida Neversayneva is gloriously on hand to show us the swan corpsing in an extremis of feathers and outraged artistry. And there is Raymonda’s Wedding, wildly Hungarian in heel-clicks and hand-claps (worst possible form at the Mariinsky) and done with manic verve. Hurrahs for all concerned.