Les Ballets Trockadero’s UK tour opens with a bang at the Peacock

Graham Watts, Bachtrack
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With a glorious summer now beating a hasty retreat, I made my way to The Peacock Theatre in an altogether different haze; every centimetre of exposed skin and outer clothing coated by a thin mist of insidious drizzle. It did not make for the best of moods but, thankfully, I was about to reacquaint myself with those unique farceurs of drag ballet: the remarkable institution that is Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. The discomfort of damp clothes quickly disappeared amongst a sea of satisfied smiles.

The “Trocks” – as they are affectionately known – have been touring for over forty years, presenting formulaic programmes within which structure most individual component dances are regularly changed. This performance began a long, eight-week tour of the British Isles.

The opening “white” ballet was the Trocks’ irrepressible deconstruction of the second act of Swan Lake. Seeing it for the umpteenth time is like watching a much-loved comedy sketch (think the Two Ronnie’s’ Fork Handles or Monty Python’s Dead Parrot). We know exactly what is going to happen, and when, but we laugh all the same. The novelty comes in new interpretations of these much-loved characters: here, with Carlos Hopuy as Odette (dancing in the guise of Alla Snizova); and Duane Gosa’s Siegfried (performed as Vladimir Legupski).

Hopuy – trained at, and formerly with, the National Ballet of Cuba – is a talented dancer, underpinning the considerable comedy in the exaggerated egotism of his ballerina with excellent technique. It is hard not to fall into the mind-set that Hopuy is a ballerina, because his physicality and style are of a woman dancing; and Gosa appears to play Siegfried as a cross-dressing female.  It is the ultimate in gender-fluid performance underscored by split-second comic timing.

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