In a performance that had the audience rolling in the aisles, Les Ballets
Trockadero de Monte Carlo camped it up as the all-male dance company regaled the
packed house at the Jerusalem Theater last week with side-splitting antics and
perfectly poised pirouettes and pas de deux.
In existence since 1975, the
New York-based company combines classical ballet with hilarious send-ups to
create a thoroughly entertaining presentation. They are to ballet what the
Harlem Globetrotters are to basketball – experts at their craft but having a
lark at the same time.
The names devised for the dancers are a good
indicator of what these guys are up to. I had seen the Trocks (as they are
affectionately called) decades ago in Montreal, and I will always remember the
name Natasha Youbetyourbootskaya.
In last week’s performance, the corps
de ballet included such mocked-up monikers as Natalie Kleptopovska, Maria
Paranova, Minnie van Driver, Olga Supphozova, Sonia Leftova, Nadia Doumiyafeyva,
Stanislas Kokitch and Mikhail Mypansarov.
Clad in tutus and pointe shoes,
as well as beautifully styled hair and makeup, the exquisitely toned members of
the ensemble jetéd and fouettéd across the stage in their own versions of scenes
from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Pugni’s Le Grand Pas de Quatre and Glazunov’s
For example, in the Dying Swan scene from Swan Lake,
Odette, the queen of the swans, fluttered onto the stage, with a flurry of
feathers falling fast and furious. After some very well-executed artistry
performed to Tchaikovsky’s heart-rending music, interspersed with comic gestures
and moves, such as trying to scoop some of the feathers back on, Odette
ultimately withered to the floor, flailing in a heap of white fluff.
the program literature explains, “The comedy is achieved by incorporating and
exaggerating the foibles, accidents and underlying incongruities of serious
dance. The fact that men dance all the parts – heavy bodies delicately balancing
on toes as swans, sylphs, water sprites, romantic princesses, angst-ridden
Victorian ladies – enhances rather than mocks the spirit of dance as an art
Whether they were deftly playing it straight, so to speak, or
tripping over each other and making faces, what came across very clearly was
that the dancers were having such a good time.
In sequined tutus, white
gossamer dresses and frilly pink gowns, they danced with a sense of joy and
total abandon that was a delight to see.
After a point, it didn’t matter
whether they were men or women or men dressed as women because the sheer power
of their performance took center stage.
For their grand finale, the
Trocks did an energetic hora to “Hava Nagila” that had the Jerusalem audience on
their feet and cheering.
IN ANOTHER but totally different tour de force,
the London-based Imperial Ice Stars recently wowed Israeli audiences with its
breathtaking presentation of Swan Lake on Ice. Magnificent from start to finish,
the performance was simply spellbinding.
In the Jerusalem performance,
the entire stage of the Jerusalem Theater’s packed Sherover Hall was transformed
into a skating rink, where the formidable dancers/skaters performed
Tchaikovsky’s ballet in a brilliant choreography by Tony Mercer that integrated
the classic steps of the ballet with the masterful moves of championship- level
It was like watching the best Olympic ice dancing
sequence – but for two glorious hours. Ballet is beautiful, but with the
enhancement of the grace and artistry of skillful skating, ballet on ice is
And as if the superb dancing and skating were not enough, at
one point in the ballet Odette and later a duo were whisked up into the air by
wires and executed some ethereal aerial artistry.
Putting yet another
original spin on one of the world’s best-known ballets, there was no Dying Swan
in Mercer’s production. Rather, contrary to many of the versions of the ballet
where the ill-fated Odette either dies or is doomed to remain a swan, loveless
and alone, this version had a happy ending. Odette shed her swan trappings and,
with her liberated long blonde hair flowing in the breeze, skated off into the
sunset with her handsome prince, to live happily ever after.
the audience, that may have been the end of the story, but it was not the end of
the performance. In an exhilarating grand finale, the cast pulled out all the
stops and presented a dizzying display of its entire arsenal of skating skills.
With cheers and bravos, the audience rose en masse amid the thunder of unbridled
A classic is a classic because it transcends time and traverses
cultures. Whether Swan Lake is presented in its traditional manner, on ice, in
drag or serves as the theme of an Oscar-winning movie like the 2010 film Black
Swan, Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, written in 1876, will continue to delight
audiences worldwide for generations to come.