Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo 2011
Tuesday 08 March to Saturday 16 April

Press Reviews

Mark Brown, The Telegraph 2011

If you’re one of those people who has always felt that the ballet world takes itself a little too seriously, an evening with New York City’s famous pastiche ballet company Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo might be the perfect antidote. “The Trocks”, as they are affectionately known, are an all-male company who offer ballet – complete with pointes and tutus – from a gloriously irreverent perspective.

Even before a single pirouette has been executed in this UK tour, the pre-show announcement (made in a preposterous, faux-Russian accent) gives us a sense of the deliciously humorous production to come. The company apologises, says the announcer, for the absence of the ballerina “Natalia Notgudinov”.

The show begins with the Trocks’ very special interpretation of Act 2 of Swan Lake. If you can imagine Mel Brooks and Eddie Izzard collaborating on an “action transvestite” ballet, you might have something approximating this brilliantly executed lampoon.

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Louise Levine, Sunday Telegraph

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo combine old favourites and novelties with greater success (and infinitely more laughs).  Swans will always be wanted, but each “Trocks” visit brings delicious new surprises.  This week’s generous programme included the pas d’action from Marius Petipa’s 1900 romp Les Millions D’Arlequin and a painfully funny rendition of Leonid Lavrosky’s Walpurgisnacht.

The lash-fluttering allure of their “ballerinas” tends to earn more plaudits, but the Trocks’ princes are just as well observed.  Joshua Grant (alias Ashley Romanoff-Titwillow) nails all the Siegfried mannerism, and in Walpurgisnacht the deadpan Brock Hayhoe manhandles his partners with the throwaway insouciance of a man juggling cigar boxes.

Judith Mackrell, The Guardian

There’s a glorious logic to the fact that the Trocks, an all-male ballet troupe, camp as Christmas, have become guardians of the fragile curios of the classical repertory. Take Petipa’s carnival romp, Les Millions d’Arlequin (1900), which as far as I know hasn’t appeared on the straight ballet stage in aeons. With its skippily exuberant Harlequin and friends, and a Columbine as cutely winsome as a porcelain figurine, the work’s sugar content is now way too high for a modern audience.

But given the Trocks’s treatment of sharp-eyed pastiche and comic spin, the ballet gets a robust and weirdly credible reincarnation. There’s a lot of recognisable Petipa on stage, and all the tricks of parody (the exaggerated head tilts and gestural flourishes) simply focus the accuracy of the choreography’s reconstruction. Even when the Trocks let rip with their own physical gags, they never stray far from the ballet’s own world.

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Judith Flanders, The Arts Desk

I have a friend who loves telling jokes. One night he started a well-worn story: “Please”, he said, “if you’ve heard this before, don’t stop me – it’s one of my favourites.” I am always reminded of that evening when watching Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – the Trocks to their many thousands of fans across the world – when they touch down in London on one of their regular stops. The jokes are great – the dance is pretty good too – and if the jokes are a bit familiar, well, that’s all part of the fun.

As it often does, their second programme begins with Act Two of Swan Lake (pictured right) – or, as the Trocks call it with their passion for old-style Ballets Russes glamour, Les Lac des Cynges. Whichever language, we all recognise the language of a bleached-blonde prince (Ashley Romanoff-Titwillow, also known as Joshua Grant), a bossy swan princess (the grand diva of the company, Olga Suppohozova, or Robert Carter) who, after she is captured by the hunter-prince, gives him a “don’t mess up my tutu, sonny” look. Many of the jokes work on two levels – Swan Lake is one of the broadest, prat-fall-iest parodies the Trocks do, but as well as the limelight-hogging corps de ballet member, and the evil magician who gets lost inside his cloak, there are also wonderful balletomane-focused jokes, such as the prince who has to ask his swan-princess to repeat her mime, because he can’t understand it – as, let’s face it, who can?

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Zoe Anderson, The Independent

In a comedy drag ballet show, it’s no surprise that the corps de ballet bump into each other. Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, commonly known as the Trocks, take those basic jokes to dizzying heights. The corps dancers try so hard not to hit each other, wincing in horror as they see it coming. When disaster finally strikes, they have a glorious range of reactions, from anxious apology to passive-aggressive flouncing to the full-on diva strop.

Now regular visitors to the UK, this New York-based company take comedy and dancing very, very seriously. They really can dance on pointe, holding balances and turning thoroughly efficient pirouettes. When they revive real ballets, the core of the traditional choreography is there. Then they have fun with it.

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Jenny Gilbert, The Independent

In terms of mould-breaking diversity, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, also based in New York (never mind the moniker), have not been far behind. The world has long been awash with wannabe ballerinas. But who knew there were so many with size 11 feet?

Yes, the Trocks, as they have come to be known, are male to a man, yet insist on performing ballets intended for a cast of wispy girls on pointe. A good deal of the Trocks’ comedy derives from the sheer absurdity of masculine bulk balanced on a toe’s width of blocked satin, but other aspects of ballet conformism are pointed up too. One of the Trocks wears glasses, another has a Cyrano nose, and another dwarfs her weedy partner, kindly giving him a bunk-up now and then.

Yet the intention is not to mock so much as delight in ballet’s foibles and potential mishaps – the corps de ballet girl slugged into the wings by a stray arabesque, the charm malfunctions and pecking-order squabbles that have beset classical companies for 150 years.

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