By CB Adams
Let’s dispatch with the most obvious misconception one might have upon first encountering the
name Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, which bills itself as the “World’s Foremost All-
male Comic Ballet Company.” At first glance, this might seem like a novelty act, like the Harlem
Globetrotters in tutus, RuPaul’s Drag Race On Pointe or Dame Edna Everage Does A Derriére.
Or, in Chuckles the Clown parlance, “A Little Song. A Lot of Dance. Just a Spritz of Seltzer
But what the audience at the nearly full Touhill Performing Arts Center on Saturday, April 16
discovered – if they didn’t already know – is that a “Trocks” performance is much more than a
drag ballet. So, let’s just call it what it truly was: a night of innovative, beguiling, impressive
ballet sprinkled liberally with spot-on comic moments that were way more Keaton and Chaplin
than Divine and Coccinelle.
And that may be one of the best things about the Trocks – the amount of sheer athleticism and
poise required of the male dancers to balance on toes as swans, sylphs, water sprites, romantic
princesses and angst-ridden Victorian ladies. It reminds one of that old quote about Ginger
Rogers doing everything Fred Astaire did, except “backwards and in high heels.”
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo was founded in 1974 and, after appearances in more than
35 countries and 600 cities worldwide, continues its mission of performing polished parodies of
classical ballets en pointe and en travesty. As the company approaches its 50 th anniversary in two
years, its reputation received a boost after the release of Ballerina Boys, a film by Chana Gazit
and Martie Barylick, that aired on PBS’ American Masters. It is noteworthy that Saturday’s
performance marked a first for the Trocks’ as they made their St. Louis debut as part of Dance
St. Louis’ 2021-22 season.
Also noteworthy is “…the Trocks’ commitment to providing a stage for dancers often
underrepresented in classical ballet due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, size, social
class, race and ethnicity,” according to their mission statement “…As ambassadors of LGBTQ
culture and acceptance, the Trocks remain committed to supporting, mentoring, and inspiring the
next generation of LGBTQ performers and arts appreciators; supporting LGBTQ elderly and
mentoring LGBTQ youth; and serving as an integral link to the history and traditions of LGBTQ
The company’s education and engagement programs allow the company to extend the work it
does on stage and engage communities in reimagining their expectations of ballet performance
and its intersection with gender roles and identities.”
Photo by Sascha Vaughan
Saturday’s program consisted of three parts. The first was “Le Lac des Cygnes” (Swan Lake, Act
II), the Trocks’ signature work, with music by Tchaikovsky, choreography after Lev Ivanovich
Ivanov, costumes by Mike Gonzales and décor by Clio Young.
This was followed by a pas de deux in “ Vivaldi Suite” with music by Vivaldi, choreography
after George Balanchine, costumes by Gonzalez and lighting by Kip Marsh. The evening
concluded with the Spanish-influenced Majismas, from the 1885 opera Le Cid by Jules Massenet
with staged and additional choreography by Raffaele Morra, costumes by Christopher Anthony Vergara
and lighting by Jax Messenger.
It would almost be unfair to highlight any one of the Trocks because, to mix metaphors, the
company has such a “deep bench” of fabulously talented ballet dancers. Their Trocks names
include Maya Thickenthighya, Minnie Van Driver and Sascha Altschmerz.
The program notes were as much fun to read as listening to the pun-filled names at the end of
the old Car Talk radio show, such as the Russian chauffeur, Picov Andropov,
and vacation specialist, Ivana Veekoff.
But who said reviews were fair? In addition to the deep bench, of special note was Takaomi
Yoshino by way of Varvara Laptopova as the Queen of the Swans in Swan Lake. The Vivaldi
Suite was performed seamlessly by Maxfield Haynes by way of Marina Plezegetovstageskaya
and Ugo Cirri by way of William Vanilla. The entire Corps de Ballets in Majisimas was so
effortlessly enthralling and entertaining that it was easy to focus on the performance itself with
no concern that it was also a performance by only men. That takes some doing.
After a long standing ovation, the company treated the audience with a Rockettes-styled dance to
“New York, New York.” At the Trocks St. Louis debut, it’s not hyperbole to assert that they
came, they saw and they knocked it out of the park.
Here’s to hoping it won’t be another 48 years before they return. Start spreadin’ the news.