Men in tights

Hold on to your tutus, the hilarious all-male Ballets Trockadero is coming to town.

Ballets Trockadero 311 (photo credit: Sascha Vaughan)
Ballets Trockadero 311
(photo credit: Sascha Vaughan)
If you think that ballet is boring, that ladies in pointe shoes and men in tights can’t possibly turn your world upside down, you may want to check out Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. The thing is, forget about those women in pointe shoes. For that matter, you can leave all expectations to see ladies at home, as the company, otherwise known as the Trocks, is an all-male drag troupe. But everything else will be there – the shoes, the tights, the tiaras, the tutus and the fierce technical precision of classical ballet.
As part of the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center’s 2011-2012 season, the Trocks will make their Israeli debut this weekend with a five-show engagement.
If all of this strikes you as somewhat silly, then you are on the right track. At least that’s what the Trocks would tell you. Founded in 1974 in Manhattan by comedian/dancers, the Trocks is all about fun. Well, fun, fabulous costumes, fearless performers and beautiful music.
“What we are is an all-male ballet comedy company,” explained artistic director Tory Dorbin, who spent 16 years of his professional life dancing in corsets and chiffon for the company. “We are always looking for a balance between the comedy and the ballet. It’s a comedy show using ballet. In this case, contemporary dance as well.”
For this exciting tour, Dorbin has put together a mixed program of highlights of the company’s diverse and hysterical repertoire. While most of the excerpts in the program are in homage to seminal ballet masterpieces such as Swan Lake and Paquita, there is a tribute to the late and great Merce Cunningham entitled Patterns in Space thrown into the mix.
Though the philosophy of the Trocks has remained the same since their initial debut in a midnight show on 14th Street in the mid-1970s, the rest of the world has changed rapidly. As a longtime member of the company, Dorbin was privy to a front-seat view of the shift in public and industry expectation in Trocks performances.
“Prior to joining the company, I had never danced in drag before,” said Dorbin. “ When I joined the Trocks, it was a career wrecker. But what was once unacceptable is now okay. Our first show was on a stage as big as my kitchen, and I live in New York. We recently performed at the Bolshoi Theater, which was a big deal.”
Fielding the responses of his audience is a major part of and challenge in Dorbin’s work as the visionary of the company. He was proud to say that the whispered remarks in the theater tend to tickle him pink.
“No one expects the dancers to be quite as good as they are. They don’t expect such a high level of dancing. When they see it, they are happily surprised or borderline shocked. You don’t want to go into the Tel Aviv Opera House not proud of your technical level. The dancers have a lot of pride and look good doing what they do best. The show is better when the dancers are better,” said Dorbin.
Allowing crowds to enjoy the humorous side of ballet has won him a large international following, comprised of individuals who are interested in an unconventional performance experience.
“What I’ve learned is that if it’s fun, you can do anything. Even the pain of pointe shoes is bearable because of the good time we are having. Those poor women in ballet companies have so much pressure on them. But the Trocks are so different in that way. The company is great fun!” exclaimed Dorbin. “Our shows are like being at a party. We’re telling jokes and laughing, and there is a great energy.”
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo will perform at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center from November 8-11. For tickets, visit