It’s not every day you get to see men in pointe shoes – and see them dancing well. (NB: These are not The Try Guys.) The all-male ballet cast of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is formidably funny. If you’ve got a pulse, and even the tiniest sense of humor, the goofy antics of Les Ballets Trockadero will have you snorting, roaring or howling with laughter. On top of their dramatic make-up, gorgeous costumes and infallible comedic timing, the gender bending male ballet troupe displays dynamite dancing to boot.
Did you know Siberian Swan is making the first standardized pointe shoes for men?
Marvellous Men in Pointe Shoes
The NYC-based Ballet Trockadero tours the globe, and they breezed through London with two separate programs in September. While it’s easy to imagine bawdy New Yorkers laughing uproariously at the unique combination of traditional ballet and drag, the all-male ballet company got the reserved Brits to impishly chuckle, too. The Trocks jauntily blend drag with the hilarious high drama of ballet, and the show is impeccable – including the pre-show announcement over the loudspeakers and the paper programs with the dancers’ male and female alter-egos.
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Les Ballets Trockadero: Program A
I attended the Program A variety show with snippets of “Trovatiara” and “The Little Humpback Horse.” But, of course, the endearing ballet favorites “Swan Lake” and “The Dying Swan” (ironically, both bird-centric) stole the show. The much-anticipated highlight of “Swan Lake,” the usually precise prancing of the pas de quatre, didn’t disappoint.
And it’s difficult to dissect the “Dying Swan” solo in terms of standout moments because the whole short choreography delights. We are first entranced, as always, by the fluid rippling of shoulder muscles as the swan flaps her wings; but then entertainingly awkward avian characteristics emerge. The flurry of feathers that gently shake from the tutu are genius, as the swan reflects her mortality, and desperately attempts to reaffix them to her costume. (Duane Gosa danced it divinely.)
Still, the variety of the ballets and technical prowess shown in the other pieces keep the program interesting. Frequent ballet-goers will especially appreciate the clever re-staging of the classical ballets, but the beauty of Les Ballets Trockadero is that the company makes the art-form accessible to everyone. So, theatre-goers don’t need to know a lick of ballet (or even necessarily the stories behind the ballets) to enjoy the show. Plus, it’s easy to ogle at the pure athleticism of hefty men, donned in tutus, hoisted up on the very tips of their toes.
Ballet Comedy At Its Best
Right away, you’ll notice how the performers can pull their features to all corners of their faces, making their expressions of triumph, disgust and everything in-between obvious. Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo choreography cuts through the pageantry of ballet, highlighting the difficulties of the performance art that other professional ballet companies purposefully hide. Through exaggeration the ballet dancers clearly demonstrate the difficulties of dancing in synchrony, the sheer physical effort of performing ballet moves and the coordination of partnering.
During the program, ballet dancers happily bop along to the wrong beat, and you’ll catch glimpses of spats between dancers when supported lifts and turns go wrong. But even when there is nothing noticeably off-beat happening on stage, The Trocks inflate and poke fun at the pompousness ballet, which society has come to accept without question. Watching the exaggerated and light-hearted comic ballet certainly provides a new perspective on the performance art and proves there is always a reason to laugh.
Men, if you’ve been inspired to take up pointe work, you can order male pointe shoes, whose unique dimensions cater to male foot anatomy.
Disclosure: Dance Dispatches received complimentary admission to provide an open and honest dance performance review.