Review: Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at the Peacock Theatre
Picture this: a dark stage, a single spotlight. The spotlight tracks slowly, dramatically from one side of the stage to the other. Then back again. Then back once more. Finally, a figure appears on stage… on the opposite side to the follow spot. The figure whistles angrily and the spotlight swoops over to show… a man in a tutu, covered in feathers. The audience erupts into appreciative laughter.
What else could it be, but the Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo? Though, I must say, reducing these performers to “men in tutus” is to misunderstand and grossly undersell a troupe of the most talented dancers I have had the pleasure to see in a long time.
Founded in 1974, the Trocks are – at heart – a bunch of ballet fanatics. If ever you doubted that a 6ft tall, well-muscled man could pirouette en pointe with the best of the ballerinas – then, my friend, I can now tell you, you are mistaken. Born in New York, the dancers now come from all over the world, and their truly-remarkable talent has won them global acclaim.
This particular performance was the first night of their London B programme, at Sadlers Wells’ gorgeous Peacock Theatre. The evening began with Les Sylphides, a white gauzy dream which was all tulle and Chopin, followed by a Balanchine-inspired Pas de Deux. Act Two opened with a Pas de Six from the Danish ballet Napoli (I know right?! A Danish ballet…who’d-a thought?!) and the gut-bustingly hilarious Dying Swan, from Swan Lake. Then, finally, the high-energy delight of Raymonda’s Wedding from another ballet I’d never heard of – though this, at least, was Russian!
- The dancers’ names – my personal favourite was “Nina Enimenimynimova” (though runner up is probably “Mikhail Mypansarov”)
- The unbelievable bounciness of Haojun Xie and Takaomi Yoshino (That’s Nicholas Khachafallenjar and Boris Dumbkopf, to you and me) in the Napoli Pas de Six
- The White Lady’s ridiculous conical hat in Raymonda’s Wedding
- In fact, all of the costumes in Raymonda’s Wedding
- Every single thing about Robert Carter’s Dying Swan
Haojun Xie and Takaomi Yoshino in the Napoli Pas de Six
CREDIT: Emma Kauldhar
It would be too much to say that the Trocks’ comedy is clever… it comes at you with the force of a sledgehammer and the subtlety of your Uncle Frank at Christmas after four too many glasses of eggnog. But… that didn’t mean I laughed any less. I’m sorry – there is just something about watching people fall over which will always be funny.
The humour aims to highlight all the potential mistakes and quirks of the ballet world – from the conceited prima ballerina (and her hapless male partner) to the natural loss of balance which can occur after you do 18 pirouettes in a row. And it’s all daft. But it works.
Part of the reason it works is because it is combined with such natural dance talent that the whole chaotic mess still feels like an accomplished piece of slapstick theatre. Watching a man in a wig, false eyelashes, and a size 13 pointe shoes, jump at another man and be caught mid-air, might not be as elegant as you’d get with the Bolshoi – but I can promise it is just as entertaining.
This is a show which simply has to be seen – I already can’t wait until next time. Catch the Trocks at the Peacock Theatre tonight and tomorrow, before they head off on the rest of their whistle-stop tour around the UK and Ireland, finishing up in Belfast on 3rd November.