Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, those clown princes of ballet, made a triumphant return to Meany Hall Thursday night – complete with molting feathers, jangling tambourines, sweat-drenched tutus and, from the audience, shrieks of helpless laughter.
The Trocks, as they’ve been known throughout their 31-year history, are an all-male troupe specializing in faithful renditions of classic and modern ballets, performed with impressive technique and more than a bit of diva attitude. (Bent over on the floor in her final “Dying Swan” pose, prima ballerina Ida Nevasayneva – known off-pointe as Paul Ghiselin – coyly cued the crowd’s applause, with some rather specific hand-fluttering.)
In their jumbo-sized pointe shoes and bunhead wigs, the Trocks have taken on the persona of an ultra-traditional Russian ballet company – one with, perhaps, too many stars and not enough underlings.
Opening with their trademark performance of Act 2 of “Swan Lake,” each member of the corps de ballet emerged as a distinct personality. In contrast to standard ballet companies, in which the corps blends as one faceless entity, the Trocks proudly parade their individuality. One corps member looked quite worried throughout while another waved cheerfully at the crowd. Another became entangled in the folds of her tutu, and another was so overcome by the joy of dance that she began hopping uncontrollably, upsetting her fellow swans to the extent that you could imagine feathers flying backstage.
This is all very funny stuff, performed by skilled comedians, but the shtick is balanced by some dancing that’s occasionally breathtaking. Svetlana Lofatkina (Fernando Medina Gallego) as Odette in “Swan Lake” had a wonderfully light jump and speedy feet, not to mention a naughty smile and over-the-top swoon that would have well-served a silent film star. Olga Supphozova (Robert Carter) pounded a tambourine with her daintily pointed feet in a lively “Tarantella,” in between tossing off lightning-quick pirouettes.
“Go for Barocco” was a hilarious satire of George Balanchine’s minimalist ballets, complete with intricate cats-cradle weaving (resulting in a hopeless tangle) and a jazzy transformation of a trademark Balanchine move involving a jutting torso over a pointed toe. (Add just a bit of wiggling derriere and some popping wrists and it looks – well, not like what Mr. B. intended.)
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo performs at 8 tonight at Meany Hall (sold out).
“L’Ecole de Ballet” was a peek inside a ballet academy, run by the terrifying Madame Repelski (Margeaux Mundeyn/Yonny Manaure). Giggling students practiced at the barre, then traded solos at a recital, where we see the famed Trockadero personalities beginning to take shape. Call it divas in training
The evening ended with a trademark Trocks encore, involving Benny Goodman’s “Sing Sing Sing” and a sparkling disco ball. It wasn’t quite as fabulous as the “Riverdance” encore of their last Seattle visit, but it shows that the Trocks keep moving forward, trying something new. Long live this company, who so aptly blend the joy of ballet and the fine art of silliness.