Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo was welcomed back to Toronto Saturday night by a full house at the Winter Garden Theatre. Brooke Lynn Hytes (Canada’s Drag Race) also made her return to the Trocks as a special “uninvited” guest. The Trocks, the all-male troupe dancing en travesti, have made an art form of balletic parody, taking the camp and downright silly elements of the ballet to new and hilarious extremes. Known for their rendition of the classic, Swan Lake, the Trocks have serious repertoire, which they presented on this formidable mixed bill.
Swan Lake, ostensibly the tale of a man who falls in love with a swan, and a spellbound woman who dances as a bird, encapsulates many of the underlying absurdities of ballet. It is no wonder the Trocks have made this their signature ballet. The opening gambit of evil sorcerer Von Rothbart dragging a pathetic cardboard swan across the stage is a sign that you’re going to have to suspend disbelief here, folks. This is Odette with attitude, swans that fight back and cosmically vacuous Prince. The principal performances were stellar, but people come for the Pas de Quatre, the unusually thorny choreography done with the four “petite” swans linking hands. This version was augmented with chorus-girl high kicks, shoulder rolls and eye-rolls when it all gets too hard. Priceless.
Swan Lake was only the appetizer. What other company can say that? It was followed by a sensationally performed tarantella, after Balanchine’s diabolical duet with tambourines, mixing Italian folk accents with rapid-fire pirouettes and jumps. Next came Grand Pas de Quatre, a recreation of Jules Perrot’s grand divertissement canonizing the four leading ballerinas of the Romantic era, Marie Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Fanny Cerrito and Lucile Grahn. In the puffiest of powder-pink Romantic-style tutus, the four ballerinas cluster together, framing Taglioni. Now of a certain age, Taglioni hops and minces about the stage with her index finger pointing at her chin in fixed repose while the other ballerinas stay out of her way. Particularly vexatious toward Grisi, a rival interpreter of Giselle, Taglioni does all she can to remain in the limelight.
Brooke Lynn Hytes performed the iconic solo, The Dying Swan, with a perennially moulting tutu – within minutes the stage looked like the aftermath of a pillow fight. Hytes, glamorous and radiant even in avian death, took a moment to acknowledge her fans from the footlights, who had turned out in force to see her return to the stage.
And finally, the Trocks performed an impressive staging of Valpurgeyeva Noch after the Bolshoi Ballet’s version by Leonid Lavrovsky. Valpurgeyeva Noch presents a bacchanal, replete with randy fauns and maidens, a mischievous Pan and nymphs occasionally getting tangled in their veils. Bacchante is held mightily aloft by Bacchus, the god of wine, in the ultimate celebration of Soviet balletic camp. The hardworking ballerinas of the Trockaderos even stayed to delight us with an encore, rounding out an evening of serious laughs with this glorious troupe.
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