I welcomed the return of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo to the Peacock Theatre in last month’s issue and a second program offered by the company on September 23 proved just as much fun as the first. As well as including company favorites, Act 2 of Giselle and The Dying Swan (again performed by Ida Nevasayneva), the mixed bill included two novelties new to London. Of the greatest interest was a staging by Elena Kunikova of Marius Petipa’s “underwater scene” from the Little Humpback Horse. Created by Petipa in 1895 after an earlier version that Arthur Saint Leon had set to music by Cesare Pugni, this delicious little divertissement is very much in the manner of other “underwater’ ballet scenes such as those that appear in Pharaoh’s Daughter or the opera Sadko. It includes sweet little dances and solos for two Star Fish, a Gold fish, Corals, Sea Weed (here named “Medusas”) the Queen of the Underwater and the Genie of the Underwater, and the whole company performed the choreography, which looked as if it could very plausibly be by Petipa, with charm and wit.
The other novelty was Vivaldi Suite, which had choreography “after Balanchine”. The ballet cast was immensely tall Katarina Bychkova (Joshua Grant) in the main ballerina role, against the very much smaller male lead, Araf Legupski (Camilo Rodriguez) and the work highlighted and spoofed many of Balanchine’s stylistic qualities. The result was an amusing parody =especially in the first movement – but was not quite as funny as Go for Barocco, the Trocks’ earlier take on Concerto Barocco.
Vivaldi Suite was preceded at this performance by a cracking account of Agrippina Vaganova’s Diana and Acteon pas de deux in which Olga Supphozova’s Diana (Robert Carter) seemed to take delight in performing with the flamboyantly Soviet-style Acteon of Boris Nowitsky (Christopher Lam).
Giselle Act 2 was performed before a droll nocturnal backcloth by the great American cartoonist, Edward Gorey and danced in the familiar choreography. I particularly enjoyed the Trocks conception of presenting the Willis as zombie like creatures, their hair all tousled (one wore an Amy Winehouse-style beehive, another wore what I can only describe as an “Afro-fright wig”) and their limbs and hands stiffened with rigor mortis. When Myrtha (Minnie van Driver / Joseph Jefferies) summons the undead creatures to raise Giselle from her grave, The Willis advance with shovels to dig her up.
Of particular note was the Giselle of Lariska Dumbchenko (Raffaele Morra), who, despite the hairy chest, gave a delicate and nuanced performance of this great ballerina role of the Romantic ballet.