Lords of the dance
- Michaela Bancud
- Portland Tribune - Features
All-male Trockadero troupe spoofs the passions of ballet
The world of ballet is peopled by prickly, larger-than-life characters. Mercurial artistic directors and flighty dancers abound. And what child can ever forget his or her first dance mistress Ñ she of the savagely plucked eyebrows and long, cruel stick?
No, ballet is not known for its sense of humor.
Enter the witty, dance-happy, all-male troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. The troupe gleefully spoofs the traditions and mannerisms of traditional ballet, both its repressed passions and its masochistic mating rituals.
Men expertly dance both the male and female roles. They dance, incredibly, en pointe in size 10 and larger shoes, dressed in tutus and full-length gloves. Heavy, muscle-bound thighs move to the frantic, bombastic strains of Tchaikovsky and Minkus. A deep dip or fast turn might reveal Ñ quelle horreur! Ñ a manly bulge beneath the leotard.
The troupe, which performs the full range of classical and modern dance, specializes in rarely seen works of 19th-century Russian ballet. The dancersÊlovingly channel the grande dames of ballet with slightly tweaked names, such as Fifi Barkova, Ida Nevasayneva and Igor Slowpokin.
In Portland, the Trocks will perform their signature work, Tchaikovsky's 'Le Lac des Cygnes' ('Swan Lake'), which tells the story of a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer. During 'Black Swan Pas de Deux' from the third act, the beak-nosed black swan emerges like a bird from hell to drag the swan offstage by one leg.
Also on the program: Paquita's Pas de Trois and a Grand Pas de Deux, and an excerpt from 'La Vivandiere.'
Using fright wigs, masks and heavy makeup, the dancers teeter on the edge of satire, stopping just short of full slapstick. Running in circles that go nowhere, gasping at the air and flapping their wings hotly, they flash huge smiles when pleased, preening for the adoring audience. A hand placed on another dancer's bum during an exit offstage elicits a startled, wild-eyed look tossed in the audience's direction.
The company, which has a history of donating to AIDS organizations, will give partial proceeds from its Portland performance to the Cascade AIDS Project.