Mary Woodward Review

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Review

**** (4 stars) 

“Dancing at its best”

I first encountered the Trocks when they came to Edinburgh in 2018 (remember those pre-pandemic days when we lived in a blissfully easy world where you never gave a thought to being on crowds of people…?).  I was bowled over by their mix of incredible talent and wicked humor based on years of experience on stage and in rehearsal rooms.  Last night’s show was just as wonderful, a glittering mix of awesome talent and sheer goofiness, which made us laugh ourselves silly and clap till our hands were sore.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is a New York-based company of male dancers who, having had a successful career in traditional male roles in classical ballet, have opted to don pointe shoes and tutus and explore the world of the ballerina.  They come in all shapes and sizes from the lissome and petite to the tall and dynamic, and when watching them one could be forgiven for thinking that they are girls.  

Indeed, when the dancers take the male roles in the pieces we watched, it’s quite possible to think they are girls dressed up as men, rather than simply as men.  And when you consider the fairly limited roles that classical ballet provides for men, apart from the occasional opportunity for the lead man to show off, I quite understand the allure of getting to do all the show off, centre- stage stuff and drink in the applause rather than simply being there to support the female dancers as they leap and twirl around the stage…

Need i say the dancing was superb?  My companion felt that the comic touches somewhat sold the dancers short and would have preferred that they simply display the excellence of their dancing – and believe me, it was superb dancing.  I have mixed feelings about it – at times, yes, I would have liked a solo simply to be done ‘straight’ – especially the Dying Swan, which was a little too deliberately funny for me: but then I, like many others in the audience, was creased with laughter during many of the pieces, particularly in parts of Swan Lake’s second act.  The dance of the four little cygnets was outstanding, but there were many other moments when the incongruous contrast between the dance as it’s normally done and the extraordinary contortions we were watching became simply hilarious.

There were many moments of sheer beauty as well.  The Vivaldi Suite had a glorious concoction of dances to Vivaldi’s music – a joy in itself after the traditional lush melodies of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake score.  The setting and costumes were simple and effective, and the dancing gorgeous.  The humour mainly came from the challenges posed by a small man partnering a very tall and long-limbed ballerina – which gave me new insights into just how difficult miss-matched partnering can be for both participants, and the peculiar difficulty for the ballerina of performing classical ballet movements with bent rather than straight arms.  

The Trocks’ version of Raymonda’s Wedding closed the evening – another opportunity for the company to display its uniquely memorable talent.  Many of the solos and duets were performed straight – and superbly – bringing loud, impressed, informed applause from the audience.  Vibrant tangerine and turquoise tutus lit up the stage and provided a perfect foil for the dark blue/ purple tutu the heroine wore.  Possibly there was a story in there somewhere, but it really didn’t matter: the dancing was a joy to watch.

And the finale – New York, New York’s introduction blasted out and the company, having donned their Statue of Liberty headdresses, gave a glorious display of chorus-line dancing at its best – outstandingly talented dancers simply letting their hair down and having a blast.

This was another memorable evening’s entertainment from Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.  The sheer exuberance and good humour of their performance was a delight: what a joy to be able to direct your talent to making people laugh till they cry while at the same time marvelling at the talent which makes such clowning seem easy.  I salute the whole company – they are all so good it would be invidious to name individuals – and really appreciate that the programme not only gives the bios of the divas gracing the stage but also those of their male alter egos.

We’ve had to wait four years for the Trocks to come back to Edinburgh – I hope it won’t be four years (and another pandemic) before we see them again!

Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Runs until Saturday 22nd October for tickets go to: 

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