We’re more than half-way through 2020, which has been pretty bleak. But digital streaming performances, hosted by generous dance companies and theaters, have been a much-needed silver lining during quarantine. During this time, we’ve watched Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Terrain from Australia, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre’s Moon Water and even Michael Flatley’s Celtic Tiger over the 4th of July weekend. And now the all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is streaming ChopEniana from July 10 – 24, 2020 on their YouTube channel. Staged by Alexander Minz, this non-narrative ballet, set to Chopin’s music, runs just under 30 minutes. The video was recorded at The Joyce Theater in New York City in 2018.
Ballet Trockadero ChopEniana Review
The ballet ChopEniana begins with a slide that explains the piece has a similar aesthetic to the romantic La Sylphide and Giselle ballets. The corps of sylphs is outfitted with floaty white mid-calf tulle skirts and a comically tiny set of wings. After a last minute on-stage cast substitution, they rise from their lunges and bourrée in formation – most with their torsos tipped off kilter.
Read more about these classic ballets in these dance show reviews: August Bournonville’s La Sylphide on English National Ballet and Frederic Franklin’s staging of Giselle (called Creole Giselle) on Dance Theatre of Harlem.
The single, spaced out male dancer in the ‘poet’ role drops his partner and forgets to dance until a hand waves before his glassy eyes. The Trocks Ballet Master, Raffaele Morra, aptly labels him a ‘dunderhead’ in a separate video about the piece – which is confirmed when the poet accidentally detaches a dancer’s set of wings.
At one point, the doltish character is yanked off stage by his partner – and later, another performer shoos him off. While he’s away, the talented solo artists effortlessly fling their legs into leaps and enthusiastically romp around the stage.
But the corps of dancers deserve attention, too. They entertain with antics you’d expect at a childhood dance recital. They fall out into little spats, grab hands in the wrong hold and fitfully doze off. In an effort to up the ante, one trundles off stage whilst sleepwalking. Their animated faces are also fun to watch, since they openly react to the other dancing on stage.
Overall, the staging felt heavy on the jokes and light on technique. However, now that more men are training and performing in pointe shoes (like these Siberian Swan pointe shoes for men), the Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo must continually distinguish their productions with their signature humor and sass – which they’ve got down pat.
The Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo is a special dance company that roundly pokes fun at ballet culture. Their ChopEniana ballet feels a bit like Jerome Robbins’ The Concert (or The Perils of Everybody) piece, where everything goes wrong – but the dancing feels more sparse.
The work has plenty of tongue in cheek moments and shows off the talent of the soloists, but without parodying a well-known ballet, it doesn’t entertain quite like their Swan Lake and Dying Swan variations that we saw during their last London visit (Read our Ballet Trocks Programme A review for more). But you’ll still crack a smile when you see it.
Have you seen Ballet Trockadero ChopEniana – or any of their other comedic ballets? Tell us about it in the comments below!