Hairy-chested men with size 46 shoes dancing on pointe wearing tutus may be too much for some ballet purists.
But the all-male Trockadero Ballet of Monte Carlo (the Trocks, in short), founded in New York 40 years ago, has made a name for itself as a cross between ballet and entertaining drag act. The company crossed over in record time from fringe world capital of off-off Broadway, where they first performed, to international tours on respected stages.
Yes, they look like a cliché, with their highly exaggerated make-up, wigs and grotesque gestures, which support their slapstick humor routines, but when they start dancing, you have to respect their craft.
Men playing female roles prevailed in eastern and western cultures, from ancient Greek Theater and Shakespeare’s era to Kabuki, Noh or Bunraku stages in Japan even today.
No one in his right mind would compare the Trocks’ rendition of the second act of Swan Lake to any classical ballet company’s execution, but it will make you laugh and urge you to ponder current issues of gender politics, or the liberty of the post-modern age.
On one hand they ridicule ballet and on the other truly strive to execute classical ballet in both spirit and technique, albeit with a twist.
They enter the stage with the most famous young swans’ quartet, which demands perfect unison, doing their fast, intricate footwork, but then one dancer looks the wrong way and spoils it. Or there’s the time dancers forget their pointed foot and flex it mid-air, or miss a landing and fall, slip, slide, etc.
Yes, it’s funny, but it tends to lose its punch when it drags for too long. And it did.
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