Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
The company known now as the " Trocks" began in the '70s downtown as, Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo. They were a parody company where the male dance ensemble donned toe shoes, tutus and twirled, plied and chassed across the floors of one tiny East Village dive after another.
But something miraculous happened as these faux Russian beauties rushed into the hearts of many worldwide: they learned to dance and dance marvelously well. So the company, now in its late 30s, has become a renown troupe with performances in over 34 countries, on "Sesame Street," and gracing major balletic venues such as Ballet Hawaii, Sadler Wells Theater in London and the Rochester Ballet.
These guys can dance and well they can prance too. The evening begins with a "Swan Lake" and it is so beguiling because it is a corps de ballet with muscular legs, well-marked turns, precise lifts, stiff tutus, hairy armpits and arabesques laced with giddy hissing and hissy fits from the swans and stink eyes shot across the wonderful wide Joyce Theater proscenium. The Tchaikovsky fills the room and transports us perhaps with memories of other swans, other times, but for this moment there is nothing better than to laugh and revel at the same time.
This reporter having just witnessed the "real ballet" at ABT in Brooklyn a few days earlier perform another Tchaikovsky ballet featuring nuts in the title (but not so many in the corps de ballet), was gladdened by the diversity of the company and their ineffable spirit.
The Trocks ballets feature a wonderfully evil and thrilling Paolo Cervellera, whose nom de dance is Viacheslav Legupski. The last names chosen make me giggle out loud as who doesn't need a Leg Upski when dancing or moving about New York City?
The Swan Queen as played by Roberto Forleo came with so much makeup and panache that it is a wonder anyone could lift him. But rise and spin and melt and weep he did, and the crowd went wild. In the following Black Swan pas de deux Odette was danced by Lawrence Neuhauser, who chose the last name Repellski, but was anything but repelling in a compelling role.
After the intermission we were treated to my favorite piece of the evening "Go For Barocco" with music by J.S. Bach and moves in homage to Balanchine. The simple costumes, black and white with red AIDS ribbons pinned to broad shoulders, gave strong, sad reverence to the scourge that still abounds and also harkens to the fact that the Trocks have always been on the cutting edge of donating time and talent to benefit AIDS based organizations.
The audience seemed to love the entire evening, the murmurs and bursts of applause, the guffaws and gasps at prowess unexpected perhaps as it seemed to weave perfection to this holiday show. These are serious, well-trained, meticulously rehearsed dancers who are able to introduce comedy into deeply difficult routines by exaggerating movements and introducing occasional pratfalls. It all works.
The final piece was a newly-commisioned one, and perhaps the company doesn't fully own it yet, or it is simply not to my taste, but was the U.S. premier of an excerpt from the final act of Laurencia, a 1939 piece about a peasant revolution, originally choreographed by Vakhtang Chabukiani. This revision was commissioned by the Joyce.
The flouncy Spanish costumes and painted cyclorama seemed very dated to me and the piece never took off the way the rest of the evening did. But there is never a full evening of ballet, modern, or flamenco where some pieces resonate and delight and others merely point out the skill of the dancers, but may be quickly forgotten.
When the curtain fell we were all cheering and I took home with me the grace, strength and good humor sewn to everyone in the wonderful Trockedero company. Come cheer.
Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo runs through Jan. 6 at The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave. in New York City. For info or tickets, call 212-691-9740 or visit www.joyce.org