You might wonder if a show featuring men performing as ballerinas is just a lowbrow, one-note gag whose appeal wears off with the novelty.
True, New York’s Trocks, as they’re affectionately known, have a well-worn formula satirising classical (especially Russian) ballet’s conventions and conceits (dramatic and individual).
Yet the company’s third Brisbane season still provides laughs for both lay audiences who might regard ballet’s peculiarities as somewhat alien and balletomanes who understand them only too well.
The chortles start even before the curtain rises. In the program and preshow announcement, new cast members including Helen Highwaters, Katarina Bychkova and Nina Enimenimynimova are introduced.
Even though we’ve previously seen Le Lac des Cygnes (Swan Lake, Act II) and The Dying Swan, the parody retains it’s effectiveness through interpretive variation and good dancing (where intended) by both the pseudo ballerinas en pointe and the men in male roles. Strapping newcomer Ashley Romanoff-Titwillow (Joshua Grant) impressed with powerful jetes, while William Vanilla’s (Joseph Jeffries) nifty switch leg jete in Don Quixote pas de deux generated an audible “ooh” from the audience.
While the men master some of the ballerina’s intricate steps, their biomechanics and physiology understandably limit them from performing certain manoeuvres with the range and grace of women.
However, the speed and power they can generate in female turns is truly dazzling such as Sveltlana Lofatkina’s (Fernando Medina Gallego) whizzing 32 fouette pirouettes en pointe in Don Quixote and a string of phenomenally fast travelling turns in Majisimas.
This program features two treats in particular for esoterics: the po-faced pretension of minimalist post-modern choreography in Patterns in Space and Go For Barocco, a “homage” to George Balanchine’s coolly stylized brand of neo-classicism.
Spanish-flavoured party piece Majisimas is the finale, showing off the whole company and the dancers’ true technical skills.
Spirits are roused in the encore – a light-hearted, high kicking chorus number to New York, New York.