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Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte CarloInternational Tour
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of Crumbs from the Table of Joy


The Company
Photo Courtesy of Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
It's been way too long since I have seen Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (circa 1988-92 at Boston's Emerson Majestic Theatre, now Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre), so I enjoyed a recent evening with "the world's foremost all-male comic ballet company," at The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on April 4.

Celebrating 40 years of performing, the company is in fine shape under Artistic Director Tory Dobrin. The dancing is excellent, with costumes and sets equal to regional ballet companies I've seen over the past 10 years. All the roles are danced by men, so half the company is in drag, dancing women's parts, often en pointe which males are not normally trained for. All of the dancers have chosen stage or drag names as part of the humor. How close some of the numbers come to offering a true ballet experience while maintaining just a small dose of being off center is another thing.

The program, in three parts, opened with "Le Lac des Cygnes" (Swan Lake, act two), a staple of the Trocks' repertoire for many years. Compared to the original, there is some snipping here and there in the music. Numbers that have been clearly defined no longer are, as everything runs together. Featured are Stanislas Kokitch as Benno, friend to Vladimir Legupski as Prince Siegfried. He is in love with Alla Snizova as the Queen of the Swans. Yuri Smirnov is evil magician Von Rothbart, while Ludmilla Beaulemova, Nina Enimenimynimova, Elvira Khababghallina, Irina Kolesterolikova, Sonia Leftova, Eugenie Repelskii, Minnie van Driver, and Guzella Verbitskaya are the Swans. This number shows the Trocks at their most slapsticky, swans jumping onto the backs of Von Rothbart, Benno and Siegfried, men dropping the swans, etc. As an encore for this act, someone danced the famous Dying Swan, leaving a trail of feathers falling off his/her tutu. The dancing was impressive.

The program listed "Pas De Deux, Solo or Modern Work to be Announced," to open the second third. The pas de deux from "Sleeping Beauty" was announced, but the music wasn't from the Tchaikovsky score that I am familiar with, so what they really danced, I have no idea. It began with a pas de deux, followed by a solo for the man, then one for the woman, which was outrageously funny because it was choreographed against the music, all the strong movements on the off beats. If this hadn't been a Trocks performance I might have thought the ballerina was having a really bad night. The audience was not laughing uproariously, so I'm not sure if most of them quite got it. The final pas de deux finished off this number. The second number of this third was "Nightcrawlers," three men in tails (Nicholas Khachafallenjar, Boris Mudko, William Vanilla), three women (Nina Immobilashvili, Elvira Khababghallina, Sonia Leftova), each taller than her male counterpart, in matching bejeweled gowns of varying colors. Choreography was modern-ish, but clearly in ballet mode, except when the couples began to jitterbug and perform other swing dance moves. The female dancer from the first number made an unexpected appearance, realized quickly that she/he was in the wrong place and vamoosed.

The last third began with "Raymonda's Wedding," described as "A traditionally confusing divertissement in two scenes," with music by Alexander Glazunov, an actual Russian composer and a relative contemporary of Tchaikovsky. This piece featured the entire company, with Nina Enimenimynimova as the Bride and Boris Mudko as the Groom. This section featured the finest dancing of the evening, albeit with some high jinks. As an encore, after full bows for the entire Raymonda's company, the curtain came back up to find everyone in serapes and wide-brimmed hats for the men, dancing the Mexican hat dance.

It is really nice to see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in such fine form. In the early years, dancing with this company virtually meant death for a serious career, but now this is a desirable position, one calling for huge versatility for the men who dance women's parts. I saw enough really good dancing to let me know that this company could do a number or two seriously, without the comedy. If my memory serves me well, the Trocks had a higher level of sophomoric comedy way back when, now they have grown up a bit as has the entire LGBT+ community in terms of maturity and acceptance. I'm wishing Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo another 40 or more glorious years.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, April 4, 2019, at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL. For information about future performances at the venue, call 800-826-9303 or visit www.VanWezel.org. For more information on the company, visit trockadero.org.

Cast (real names): Robert Carter, Boysie Dikobe, Jack Furlong, Jr, Duane Gosa, Kevin Garcia, Noah Herron, Carlos Hopuy, Alberto Pretto, Giovanni Ravelo, Joshua Thake, Takaomi Yoshino, Haojun Xie, Long Zou.


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