The Trocks are still on pointe

Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune
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Troupe executes satire with admirable perfection

Dainty, they ain’t.

But plenty of ballerina hopefuls might envy the technique, strength and chutzpah of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the troupe that mocks the art by more or less mastering it.

The Trocks are an instance when the term “broad” has triple meaning: the ballerinas, all men in drag, are of the tough, don’t-tread-on-me variety; the humor isdecidedly blunt; and the breadth of technique is striking, from clean arabesques and speedy pirouettes to fouettes so ferocious that, were a tree limb to get in the way, it would likely end up fireplace kindling.

Of course, here and there, they throw in moves that aren’t exactly Vaganova Ballet Academy sanctioned: cartwheels and back flips, not to mention shimmies.

The troupe returned Thursday to the Harris Theater, saluted by deserved ovations. And laughs too. But the amazing thing about the Trocks, now superbly led by artistic director Tory Dobrin, is the remarkable level of technique. All kidding aside, it’s one of the country’s most impressive ballet companies.

The Trocks always were and remain astonishingly keen on point. But, unlike their early days, they now boast impressive soloists who can deliver male acrobatics as well. Joseph Jefferies, or “William Vanilla,” in the system of silly pseudonyms, boasts a buoyant jump and even an ability to pause, ever so briefly, midflight. He and partner Fernando Medina Gallego, a.k.a. Sveltlana Lofatkina, manage a masterful, breathtaking pas de deux from “Don Quixote.”

The same elan is on display in “Paquita,” in which the jokes revolve around a tiny-mite, incompetent male star.

After one flub, he’s punished with push-ups. But eye-catching ensemble work and masterful variations make for enjoyable dancing, period, even if the corps briefly collapses.Most of the selections have been around for years, from the “Dying Swan,” whose molting has grown more elaborate over time, now enacted with porcelain finesse by Bernd Burgmaier, and the excerpt from “Swan Lake,” led Thursday by Raffaele Morra, an ideal Odette — unless, that is, you notice the visible crop of chest hair.

Founder Peter Anastos’ luminous “Go for Barocco,” meanwhile, is a sendup of George Balanchine so funny and authentic that it serves as a reminder that the best parody betrays a not-so-secret adoration of its target.